24: Tick, tick, tick….
I remember this series, years ago. The “real time” aspect was both fascinating and seemed to increase the anxiety surrounding the “imminent danger” plots. The clock that ticked down even during commercial breaks added even more drama. But that is real life, right? The clock keeps ticking when you sleep, go to the zoo with the family, or just break for dinner. The tasks don’t do themselves and the deadline will not extended to accommodate your time out – unless you play football for a living!
Now I’m not saying that being a Realtor means I approach each day like the Chinese government might detain me, I will need to expose myself to high doses of radiation to save a client or my job will require I defuse a bomb at the last possible second. But sure, I get detained at work and need to cancel plans in order to do the best by a client. I have exposed myself to aggressive dogs, meth labs and used underwear during showings. Naked people have exposed themselves to me! And sometimes wonder if defusing a bomb is so different from defusing an explosive negotiation for a client? Ok, it’s not the same. But the stress is similar even if the outcome is never actually life and death.
With that in mind, I thought I would share what it’s like from a Realtor’s perspective.
We all know the Front Range real estate market is a little frenzied. Decisions to spend $500,000 or more are made after 30 minute showings (or before them) and the offer better be good, the contract terms even better, if you want to snag the house from the next crazed buyer.
I routinely get asked “How is the market” and when I reply “It’s booming” I am met with knowing looks and the occasional comment along the lines of “This must be a Realtor’s wet dream!”
Of course I’m not complaining. I have a fist full of awesome clients whom I look forward to spending time with and I haven’t been short of a closing in years – for which I’m seriously grateful. But sometimes I wonder if people think I my life looks like this:
- Work from home = Get up late, watch Oprah re-runs as I Facebook the day away and answer a few emails on the side.
- List houses = Move some snaps from my camera phone to the MLS, shove a sign in the yard and wait for a flood of offers.
- Write offers = Take yesterdays offer and change a bit of the info to match the new house and new buyer, then email it in and cross my fingers while I pick up Oprah where I left off this morning.
- Be my own boss = Everything is a tax write-off and I’m not accountable to anyone for my productivity.
Here is the reality on a day when things go according to schedule:
I get up at 5:30 AM and read for 15 minutes. I read something that will improve me and my business because my clients deserve a Realtor who is constantly trying to improve herself and give them the edge over their competition. Right now I’m well into “Emotional Intelligence. Why it can matter more than IQ” by Daniel Goleman.
By 6 AM I have started my day at my desk in my home office. I use the next 1-2 hours to work on the most important thing today. This is sometimes marketing – postcards, FB post or blogging. But a lot of the time I am researching the real estate market for a client. Trying to gauge the latest info about a town, neighborhood, zip code or type of property in order to determine a list price for their upcoming listing or a contract price and strategy for a buyer.
Around 8 AM I begin a daily routine to stay connected with my clients and friends, to remind myself to be grateful for what I have and to review my goals for the day, week, month, year.
The rest of the morning is spent booking showings, uploading information to the MLS, processing pictures, writing contracts, maintaining files, answering emails and calls, keeping up with bookkeeping and property management tasks. Then I head out to appointments… You know, showing houses, meeting with people for lunch or coffee to discuss their needs, taking photographs, attending inspections etc.
The TV is not on and neither is music or audiobooks. My office is kind of sterile because I admit, I am a person who is easily distracted. 🙂
Like I said, this is a day that goes according to schedule. And if it does, I anticipate 5 days a week like this and time off (except by appointment) on the weekends.
So what happens when it doesn’t go according to schedule? – Which is EVERY week in the field of fast moving real estate!
I’m glad you asked.
Friday a new listing pops up, showing is booked, data is pulled and I’m at the house with clients by the afternoon. There is no mention of when offers will be collected until or presented by, so we go into “first come, first served” mode. After all, there will be an open house there on Sunday afternoon. The clock is ticking.
Friday afternoon the showing is complete and the offer is being written. I have also shown two other properties to two other buyers in neighboring communities by 4 PM. By Friday evening the first offer and pre-qualification letter are ready to go. I have spent hours putting together supporting documents for the offer. This extra stuff is my proprietary system for convincing a seller to make a quicker and more positive decision so the buyers can get under contract before the weekend is in full swing and the open house brings in our competition. Offers 2 and 3 for different buyers are underway and #2 will be submitted tonight or tomorrow, but #3 will have to wait for additional info and paperwork, so is stalled for now.
I’m back and forward by email, text and phone with the listing agent before and after the offer is sent. The devil is in the details and there are a lot of details with large consequences and a huge price tag. We have given the Seller 24 hours to respond. Tick, tick, tick.
I have anxiety to rival my clients anxiety for the next 18 hours. That means trouble eating, sleeping and being a good partner to my supportive boyfriend who is now doing all the cooking, shopping and decision making (because my brain is fully engaged elsewhere). At this point I couldn’t watch Oprah even if I wanted to but I have work to do anyway. It’s Saturday and that means showings.
Under contract Saturday afternoon! I call the clients and they are ecstatic. They don’t know the relief and happiness I feel for them has made me cry. I begin tasks such as emailing them the plan for the next steps and get the contracts over to their lender ASAP.
Now the hard work begins. We have 48 hours to list their contingent sale property. The buyers are also sellers now. Their Saturday is spent getting the house ready to list. I arrive Sunday morning with camera, lock box, sign for yard and “props”. Sunday afternoon is spent processing pictures, getting the MLS data uploaded, and finishing offer #3 – which is slow and complicated.
I have a dinner party at my house Sunday night and sometime between 5:30 PM and 6 PM, which is guest arrival time, I need to run to Safeway for chocolate chips that don’t contain soy lecithin and get back in time to bake a gluten free, soy free, dairy free brownie. Yikes! When was the last time I pee’d? (My boyfriend is used to hearing me ask that question when I have had a hectic day but I get that to the rest of you, it seems like something that is not so easily overlooked. Think again!)
About 8:30 PM, after the guests have departed, I return to my office to complete the listing and by 10:30 PM I hit the ACTIVE button and a new MLS # is born. It is closely followed a new listing creation with my showing service… Giving them lock box code and showing instructions/restrictions. By tomorrow morning a handful of Louisville would-be buyers are going to be drooling and calling their Realtors, who in turn, will be dialing the showing office.
Monday is the day the earnest money gets dropped off (buy side), the sign is bashed into the lawn (sell side) and the sellers spend most of the day out of the house as showings ramp up. It’s going to be a long week for them! There is the act of living in a staged house with young ones, constantly having to “not be home” for showings and the very scary world of real estate mental games to deal with. Dark thoughts that deliver doubt that people like your home, want to pay for your property or are being respectful while you are not watching are real and part of my job is managing that. It’s important not to underestimate all that the seller is dealing with right now.
The phone is constantly ringing. Realtors want to know what sort of interest the property is getting, any offers in hand yet? They ask about circumventing showing restrictions for their special buyer and want to know what is important to the seller. It’s a busy day. It’s day 4 of this scenario, but that’s just one client and you should know that most successful Realtors are juggling showings, contract writing, negotiations and deals under contract for at least 4-6 clients at a time. You make hay while the sun shines in this business. It’s not for everyone and while I seldom get a whole day off work, I do love being in real estate. You’ve got to enjoy the lifestyle or it’s never going to pay for itself.
The cost of being a good Realtor is high. Rewards are high too. I enjoy a good quality of life and appreciate that I “eat what I kill” so it’s my choice to work hard.. or not. Mostly, I’m super grateful that my clients become friends and when the deal is complete, I know I will still see them, work with their family and friends in the future and receive Christmas cards with photos of their kids each year. 🙂
Despite the constant ticking in my head, I’d give up Oprah any day for this life!