Pursuing the American Dream – Four real estate senoras and I in a row

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Perhaps it would be more surprising to encounter *me* in such company, but during a few minutes of conversation after church, discussing the progress of  sharing a future event,  the only senora present who didn’t offer me her real estate card was the Hispanic Ministry person I’d met two days before.

That’s a vivid reality to what is so attractive about real estate: Opportunities for success are very much within any individuals control, the  essence of the American Dream. Maybe not the same as Trump’s dream for America, but…

You hit the standards – in North Carolina its 79 hours of approved instruction, qualifying via the state exam, then paying your fees. Once you are legal on those points, everyone starts from Go!

Taking the original real estate course – after a long period of working primarily by myself – being with 80 people of high verbal ability was immediately noticeable. The barrier to entry was incredibly low: $450 course, about $70 more for books and suggested prep materials. After that, reading-studying-testing is your deal, definitely the priority (sorry kids).

Real estate rewards effort  

Having an entrepreneur inside,  taking the opportunity to directly affect your own future, cuts across cultural lines, and real estate rewards effort. The picture of car and commission check is worth the usual 1,000 words. Real estate as a career in a hot market, its got visuals you can appreciate, especially after the penury that was retail during the recession.

Perhaps rewards come less often than desired,  sometimes it arrives in unreal proportion to any personal brilliance, and often by doing necessary steps and being there.  Following through on leads and necessary paperwork, learning more whenever possible, making sure your technology and transportation work, being fearless, or at least determined to put yourself on the line when asking if anybody you stand next to knows somebody else.

Carve your own niche or go large, the absolute effort required is a great leveler; ‘up’ personality is never a drawback, communicating skills are a given.

Our Big Why?

During orientation (at Keller Williams) there was a question about our Big Why? What would get us out of bed daily, make us stay on task, maybe neglect family and friends attention-wise, invest in worrying about an appraisal or offer?  Walking out of 2016 in a better way than I came in was my reason – the left knee has been shot for years. Whatever it eventually cost for a replacement, by the end of the year – and primarily by the grace of Affordable Care Act – that was the One Thing.

Of primary importance, because of user-friendly technology, running my business won’t totally grind to a stop for two-six weeks of therapy after that knee replacement happens won’t totally affect effective mobility.

Throughout a variety of careers,  not having limits imposed on my choice of jobs because of extraneous factors has been a strongly held belief. Its rational to understand some leavening of socio-economic opportunities in what’s finally starting to feel like a better economy TO ME. Pero, (but) like those senoras, nosotros vamos forward with business on our minds, and helping in our hearts.

There are few satisfactions better than delivering a major part of the American Dream – owning your home – to someone else, while ringing the register for yourself.

How a Great Fish Fry is Like Your New Home

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After the final customers had left our charitable organization’s annual fish fry last week, there was a significant amount of clam chowder left. After I informed one of the other workers about that and suggested he fill some to-go containers, he asked, “Can I selectively skim it so I get more clams? I didn’t think there were enough in the bowl I had. And I really think the potatoes should’ve been a little more tender.”

Now, we haven’t seen the financial totals, but between 4:30 and 8:00, we served over 600 people all you can eat baked or fried tilipia, shrimp, mac ‘n cheese, fries, crab-shrimp-artichoke dips in line, ice cream– and that chowder– provided free (donations accepted) beer, wine, tea and lemonade, and had both a bluegrass trio and the ACC tournament on a big screen TV for entertainment. No doubt in anyone’s mind the event had been a huge community success once again.

Those comments about the chowder were actually true though, which makes for a great analogy about the search for a new home: There’s almost no such thing as a 100% perfect house.

Top 5 Factors vs. Wish List Items

Customer satisfaction with the home buying process doesn’t rely just on price, or having granite counter tops in a super-large kitchen, a well-situated bonus room for Mom’s internet company office, a fair amount of yard, 2 1/2 bathrooms, and 2,150 square feet of space on a quiet cul-de-sac in a desired school district. It would certainly SEEM like everything is in apple pie order if buyers could check off that many favorable factors, but any real estate agent will tell you, everyone wants More.

In the hot-hot Charlotte market, clients probably only get one shot at really liking a house. If they aren’t pre-qualified and ready to make a decision-offer, the next people in the door almost certainly will be.

“Gee, we’re going to have to paint that room something besides Carolina blue,” or “We really wanted to be a little closer to X, the yard isn’t enclosed, the 4th bedroom is a little small, the homeowners association dues are kind of high,” are common enough examples of Wish List.

Unless someone has to move NOW because of a company relocation or similar situation, it’s rarely *just* the house that’s being considered, and that’s when having clients keep a Top 5 checklist in hand makes a difference. (Schools? Yes, you’ve told me its third..)

Perfect House idea in perspective

Most agents will put The Perfect House idea in perspective at the beginning of the process by asking what a client needs, then “If there was something else, what would that be?” and probably even a “If one more thing would make it perfect…” type question.

Beyond all the what if…? desires though, the single biggest factor in the hot-hot Charlotte market is that clients probably only get one shot at really liking a house. If they aren’t pre-qualified and ready to make a decision-offer, the next people in the door almost certainly will be. Those dreadful days (years!) when buyers could dither over fourth bedrooms or expect major concessions on closing costs by the seller are history.

Like more tender potatoes, or the abundance of clams in the chowder relative to 600 smiling faces, free beer and entertainment, or even a highly successful fundraiser, the buyer of today has to know what really counts for them.

Buying a home is one of the biggest and most stressful decisions people make; its a commitment right up there with marriage. If you (with your agent’s enabling) want to continue searching for that specific seventh aspect, that’s your prerogative.

‘Settling for’ is not the answer, but when a fourth or fifth strong possibility goes under contract while you thought about things, recognize how serious your Top 5 is to fulfilling both a need for shelter and an overall happy home.

‘More like Matt from Martian’ is a Legitimate Mantra

The mantra refers to a movie-ending classroom discussion by Matt Damon’s character in ‘The Martian,’ about surviving Mars or whatever situation they found themselves in.

“At some point you feel its all over, but you do the math. You solve the problem, and then you go on to the next problem. You solve enough problems, you get to keep living.” It’s not alone on Mars stuff, but there are plenty of situations to solve in real estate.

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This wasn’t the first thought I’d had about going into real estate.

Accompanying photo – at 40th reunion with brother David – wasn’t the first time a future in real estate had been contemplated.  Still, in less than 100 days, from first day of class, to qualifying for State exam, being licensed as a broker in North Carolina, and successfully acting as a buyers agent on a $280k condominium sale on February 13th, I’d have to say:  

Deciding to make a major life change means nothing without action.

One question every new real estate person consistently gets asked is, “How long before you sell your first house and get a paycheck?” First sales already handled, closing date is the 24th are facts I can (generally) count on.

Matt was resourceful as hell throughout ‘The Martian’ in fixing technological challenges, and beyond good people skills, technology is an essential in real estate.

Technology vs. Personality

Making a first sale– to the FIRST PEOPLE you ever talk to— is a somewhat giddy feeling, but there’s no telling whether anything will become ‘more real,’ no matter how bright and warm a day the relationship starts on.

Its important to recognize that, while I managed to get a particular search application our company offers for downloading sent to those clients, going to that location to check out open houses vs. doing previews by myself was related to a difficulty in using my eKey to unlock houses.

Although walking up and introducing myself was the ultimate starting point – and considering the positive consequences of  meeting these clients as a result of being short of the right technology wasn’t bad – a major truth in today’s real estate is, “Make sure your technology works.”

After fixing an e-mail address and setting my client up for automatic updates of all relative properties coming on the market, the software allowed tracking what they were most interested in, and their responses to follow-up phone calls kept the search tight.

Just as an ice storm came to Charlotte they identified two condos; on Thursday we showed them, despite more trouble with obtaining keys. On Saturday they made an offer, which was accepted. Yes, Charlotte is a hot market!

The consequences of  meeting these clients as a result of being short of the right technology certainly weren’t bad –  but a Truth in today’s real estate is, “Make sure your technology works.”

After another episode with eKey failure, it took 2 1/2 hours – late on a Friday afternoon  down at MLS Services – to determine my cell phone wasn’t on the list of possible users for a reason. Buying a *much* better phone Saturday morning was a $75 investment in my future. There was also the recent purchase of a Toshiba laptop, after knocking out the screen on an old Acer unit, and at $325 + tax, its been a super addition as well.

People will help, but handle your own problems

As much as having people like and trust me as a professional counts, knowing that technology will work FOR me becomes more of a reality each day. There are regular classes, ‘playing around on it’ and seeing screens actually matters.

The atmosphere in a strong real estate company is the sense of team accomplishment, and after a long period of time having worked alone, its invigorating to me. The team leader I’ve become a Buyers Agent with was dead right in stating, “It’s your fault,” about eKey problem, because I’d delayed a month in handling something obviously wrong. While the laptop, and an unfortunate whack on car requiring a bit of credit card space, seemed like problems, it didn’t require any dynamic resolutions, just money.

That people are willing to explain a couple new functions a week to make me more effective for clients in searching, and therefore a better broker, that’s all I’m going to ask for. Oh, and hitting the two closings a month by April goal I set in training.