I was never a fan of holiday parties. But in general, I liked them better before I became a real estate agent.
Now, instead of enjoying the party, I often find myself talking shop.
People ask me how much their home is worth, and expect an answer on the spot. They don’t bother to mention that their cousin Wally already has it on the market, and that they are actually looking for validation or a second opinion.
People who haven’t seen me in a while ask me if I’m still “doing” real estate. What does that even mean? I’d rather be asked if I am still a Real-it-ter.
Sometimes people will ask me about specific home improvements. wanting to know exactly how much value they will add to the home. Which type of countertop will get them the best return on the dollar? Should they paint the dining room beige or brown? What about windows?
People ask me if I know of any good deals. They say they might be looking to buy — but only if they can find a bargain and the deal of a lifetime. Could I let them know if I find a bargain?
As if they are the only people who want a bargain, and everyone else is willing to buy real estate that is overpriced. And assuming that if I find a bargain, I should tell them about it, instead of buying it myself, or sharing the information with someone I like.
Sometimes people will tell me about a house that’s on the market, and ask me if I have seen it and what I think of it.
Some will even show me pictures of it on an app on their phone. “You know the house down the street across from the tire shop?”
They assume that I am not only intimately familiar with all 1,100 homes currently on the market, but that I have some inside information on them. That I am ready at all times to recite square footages, how old the roof is, and the fact that it is listed by the blue company. Because that is important, too.
Everyone seems to have a friend, sibling, neighbor or co-worker who is currently working with a real estate agent, but having some kind of problem that I can probably solve. Someone will have a friend who has a house that just isn’t selling. So they tap me for a free consultation and a second opinion they can pass along.
Sometimes they’ll say they have a son or daughter who is looking to buy, and ask if I could recommend a couple of homes. They want to take these recommendations to the son or daughter’s real estate agent, so the agent can set up some showings so they could all go see them.
People I don’t know will ask me what I do for a living. When I tell them I am a real estate agent they ask me if I know Sally, the best real estate agent in the world. Sometimes they will tell me about Sally’s recent escapades, and even offer to put me in touch with her because she can help me.
Did I ask for help? Have I ever asked anyone for help with anything? I think not.
For some reason, because I am in sales, people seem to feel comfortable asking me if I have sold anything recently. Relatives will ask if I have had any closings this month, and congratulate me if I say yes.
Maybe I should congratulate them each time they get a paycheck. It seems like a miracle to me that they get paid every couple of weeks, no matter what they’ve accomplished. But it might sound condescending if I congratulated them, so I don’t.
When I am asked, “How is business?” I have to say wonderful. There just isn’t any other answer that will do.
If I said business is slow, or business is bad, we all know that it is only slow or bad for real estate agents who are not very good at selling real estate. So for people like me, business is always fantastic.
In social settings people will also tell me how to sell houses. That doesn’t only happen at parties. But at parties they will tell me about this TV show they saw about how to sell a house, and ask me if I watch the show and what I have learned from it.
Sometimes they will quote an article they read. You know, those generic articles that writers who have never sold a house produce for real estate websites.
Occasionally, I run into the person who wants to know how they can get a referral fee from me. They have a friend who is looking for a real estate agent and they could introduce us for a fee. I just say that getting anything out of my wallet is tough, and good luck with that.
Well-meaning friends view holiday parties as business opportunities for me because I am in sales. People who have W-2-type jobs just get to go and enjoy.
Some agents are all business all the time, but that isn’t me. Sometimes I like to talk about something else, or just listen and enjoy some food and maybe a few drinks.
Or a lot of drinks, as I try to get people to discuss politics, religion or their own jobs. Anything but real estate.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minnesota, and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.