One of the benefits of having been in residential real estate sales since the 1980’s is the wisdom I have learned from my experiences.  Let’s call this wisdom “perspective” which includes making a lot of mistakes along the way.  I would like to share some of the insights I have learned:

  1.  The first couple of years were brutal as I worked primarily with buyers who, unlike sellers, didn’t ask how long I had been selling homes.
  • My big break with sellers came when I began delivering pumpkins (I still do!) to my geographic farm and I brought my infant son (now real estate agent) Chris along with me.  One of the elderly homeowners on my route was either taken with Chris or felt sorry for me as she asked to list her home.  Chris is still asking for his referral fee.
  • For those new agents like me who were not producing in the first year, my real estate company “asked us” to be part of a special group called “Action Group”.  This translated to: if you didn’t get some action soon, you were going to be out of this group and out of the company.  Swell.
  • It may be hard to comprehend for those agents who came into the business after the late 1990’s, but there was a time where we met our buyers at the office and then loaded them into our cars and drove them from listing to listing.  I had never been a cab driver, but this is as close as I came to being one.
  • Now that I think about it, I may have been placed in “Action Group” because I drove a two-seater car.  I was “encouraged” by management to get a large four-door Chevrolet, but decided, otherwise, that I could make it in this business with my two-seater. 

When I met prospective buyer couples at my office to show property, I told them that I would be happy to drive.  I said the wife could ride with me, but the husband would have to ride on the rear rack.  Under the heading “Making Lemonade Out of Lemons”, this is how I was chauffeured around by my buyers and saved on gasoline, too.

  • After a couple of years, I began to get the hang of this business and realized that the adage “Listers Last” is how you make a career in this business.  I had found working with buyers takes a lot of patience, so it helps to have a sense of humor.  However, having the listing (if priced right) is where the money is because the buyers come to you and that is how you can achieve longevity in this business.
  • Also, after two or three years, I figured out how this business works:  new agents with no prior real estate sales experience needed to convince sellers how great their company was in order to get business. Whereas, “seasoned” agents who had achieved success getting and selling listings could tout this to prospective sellers.  However, too much touting and chest-beating could send you right back to “Action Group”.
  • There was a time long before the Internet became big when prospective buyers and sellers would actually walk into the office or call on the office landline looking for an agent to help them.  For offices with several agents, a “floor time” schedule would be circulated each month for agents to sign up for designated time slots. Floor time was one way a new or newer agent could get business quickly.

I remember one time when a brand new agent in my office was doing time (floor time) and sitting at the floor desk waiting for his first call.  I was sitting in my cubicle directly behind this agent and, when the phone rang, I overheard him answer the phone:  “Agent Parker”.  Our real estate office had just become a satellite FBI office. 

“Agent Parker” was now a marked man within our office as this became his new name among the agents. Unfortunately, “Agent Parker” didn’t make it out of “Action Group”, but he had created a promising start to working for the federal government.

Published by Michael Thompson

I am a seasoned residential real estate professional with over 36 years of expertise in the Oakland Hills real estate market. Over the past three-plus decades, Michael has helped hundreds of buyers and sellers successfully buy and sell their homes. Many of these same clients (and now their kids!) have come back to Michael to help them with additional home purchases. With his extensive real estate background, Michael offers his clients a level of knowledge, experience and insight that gives them a competitive advantage in buying their next home or selling their present one. With a passion for sailing on San Francisco Bay, Michael and his wife Julie Ann Poppi currently are in the process of finishing the restoration of their 1981 Islander 36 sailboat.

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