Sunday, November 15, 2009

Against The Wall

I am a real estate broker and this has been a very rough year, not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. I work mostly high end properties, so one or two sales a year are not unusual for me. I work all year for those one or two sales, full time, full out. I love what I do and I'm good at it. I've been a broker for 17 years, 15 of them in the office I currently hang my license in. There are four other real estate firms within a half a mile of my office. We are a small office, there are five of us, all women, and we do about 90% of the business that gets done. My single best day ever, I had back to back closings and closed 5,650,000 million dollars of property. I LOVED that day. The sense of accomplishment was awesome.

Real estate tends to bring out the worst in people sometimes, and there have been times when I know these people I'm dealing with are perfectly nice people, and the pressure and emotion just gets to them and they go off. I have been cursed at, hung up on, shouted at.... and I just ignore the bad behavior. The sellers and buyers I deal with tend to be used to getting what they want, and I rarely deal with first time buyers or sellers. These people are seasoned in real estate transactions. They don't like to be told no (let's face it, neither do I!). I had one buyer who had been at the property he had an accepted offer on numerous times with architects, designers, landscape people, sound engineers, etc. The sellers threw the gauntlet down, no more visits until he was in contract. So the next time he called me to arrange for yet another visit, I had no choice but to tell him. The language I heard on the other end of the phone would make George Carlin blush. The next time he called me, he was all sunshine and kittens and did not mention his tantrum at all. He has also been one of my biggest supporters, and I have sold friends of his their country properties. I had another buyer who was dinking around with negotiating, and he called me and said, "Ok, my wife gave me my marching orders, how do I get this done?" and we got it done. Funny stories.

I had one couple fly out for the weekend from their home base in California. We had discussed the inventory at length before they arrived, and I had everything lined up they wanted to see. There was one property they omitted, and I thought they should see it. "Are you sure you don't want to add this property?" "We are sure, we're not at all excited about that house." Ok, fine. We see everything they wanted to see, spent all day reviewing. It had started to rain, everyone was getting burned out on looking at property, and none of the properties were right for them. I suggested, just for fun, they see the house they were not excited about, they walked in and said, "This is our house." I had another buyer not even get inside the house when he announced he was buying it.

That being said, most transactions are not so cut and dried, and there is always, always a time when the proverbial shit hits the fan. I am involved in such a transaction right now, and have a lot riding on it. Every communication is critical at a time like this. We have not had a closing more than two million dollars since 2006, and I have an offer of over four million dollars on a property, and it's a highest and best proposition; take it or leave it. It's also cash, which is huge because jumbo mortgages right now are very difficult if not impossible to obtain.

The listing agent on this property is also my office mate, and she appears to be on the brink of a nervous breakdown. I have had this offer on the table for more than a week, and there have been countless emails and conversations with the sellers; the pressure is intense. She only has a few years under her belt, and has never had a deal of this magnitude. I just keep telling her never let them see you sweat. People react to confidence. She is taking the sellers out this afternoon to look at rental properties so they know they have options to move into and can take their time looking to buy a smaller property in the community. One of those properties happens to be my listing, and I've asked her to show it last. I'm going to surprise the sellers with a little visit and see if I can get this done for everyone's sanity.