I like to think of myself as the new type of Realtor. You see I used to be the old kind. The one who is so damn enthusiastic you got excited talking about buying with me. Now you still will get excited but I wont let you–without also being realistic and frugal. You see, I saw dozens of clients and I have more dozens who have either short sold, foreclosed, or are stuck in their homes/condos and can’t go mobile. I have seen the impact of buyers not thinking 10 to fifteen years into the future.
This is the new Realtor I, and I believe many of my colleagues have become. The “real” one. You know, the one based in “the now” and the one who is still here. The enthusiasm is behind that frugal, serious gaze to get you to think about your future when you buy. Or, its that honest set of eyes looking back at you as you decide that a short sale is best for you and that the $200,000 in equity that is “lost” is not going to come back in 2 years like you thought prior to us sitting down with you. We now deliver truth. We have to counter act the willy nilly generic crap on cable tv and national media saying “housing starts jumped point one of a percent with hopeful signs” bla bla… It doesn’t mean anything if it’s not local. And it’s a narrative that is going to continue. “When is housing coming back?” we are often asked. And now, the best of us, I think does not answer. We just get real. Get to what’s here now. There’s your unit. There is your condo. There is that special assessment. The baby on the way and the 1 bedroom condo your in. There is the reality we are in and it’s all we can really afford to deal with. We spent too much time as Americans and Realtor being speculative before. That is the old Realtor. The new brand of Realtor is non-speculative. o.
And, when working with Sellers. I am part therapist and bad news dropper and sometimes preacher. I am the often the only one who has told someone the truth that there are no good options. They’ve been “pushed” around by phony loan modification companies and their lender’s switchboard operators while making half payments… all the while looking for a truth teller.
And then there I am hearing the year of of the drama … and I feel every month of the mess with them… and then there I am at the fork in the road to tell them it’s time to let go. It’s time to move on. This usually comes out something like this, “yes, let me be straight with you. your home is upside down 30% or $220,000 under water.” I have to have my research done right. I have to have graphs and trends.”That money is not likely to come back anytime soon. Noone knows but what’s so right now is that your 220,000 in a hole here.” I can feel that pain too. I also have to be a healer of sorts — and this I am good at because I can empathize by relating to the few hundred thousand dollars that evaporated out of my property investments and I can also speak the new Frugality that has taken hold in me and others in our country that realize how far $1000 can go.
So this is the new job and career I have. I still love it. I love who I’ve become. A more real and more focused and committed friend, partner and advocate for people I care about and someone who they can go through a hard process with if they are selling. And, if they are buying, I am someone who they can trust and is looking way ahead for them and reminding them of what they were committed to in our in depth interview for the trajectory of their lives. I wont let the flash of a condo’s modern Dweel magazine kitchen we stumble into pull them away from the fact that they wanted to be within 3 blocks of an el stop and within the specific school district “just in case” they have kids. I am the one to fight for that long held dream with my buyers now. I am the reminder of the long term… even if it takes us six months instead of 3 to find the home.
This is the new Realtor who has emerged. This is the new me.
How are the rest unfolding?
So our Association is down from like 16,000 Realtors in Chicago to likely 12,000 or less.. .maybe under 10,000 by now. I have trouble getting a straight answer when I ask around.. but supposedly we lost “about a third” from the Broker class I was in when I asked. So who does that leave? I hope and think it leave the tested and deep feelers and thinkers who are based in reality and have skills 3 times beyond what they were 4 years ago. I honestly feel like I have gotten two doctorate degrees and a black belt in this business since 2007.
I think the shedding off… leaves the Realtor ‘s who weren’t in it for the easy buck. They tried and true–with the service hearts. Few Realtor’s can pay the several thousand bucks a year to keep their license active if they are part time any longer.
What inspired me to write this is a article called talking about a “New Brand of Man Emerging” in the Atlantic magazine cover story titled “The End of Men,” which made quite a stir over the summer. The author, Hanna Rosin, says the Alpha Male is obsolete. The postindustrial world has no need for his aggression, physical strength and command-and-control mentality. She argues that today’s jobs require communication skills, social intelligence and the ability to sit still and focus, and let’s be honest, gents, that kind of stuff isn’t exactly in our wheelhouse. There’s still a salary gap between men and women, but with women accounting for 60 percent of college graduates and holding more than half of the nation’s managerial and professional jobs, how long do you think that’s going to last?
Well likewise the old Realtor with bud in their ear and flashy car and fast talking ways doesn’t fit anymore. The materialist doesn’t hold credibility with me. I dont’ think it does with buyers … with the real people of the market today. Instead, strive to be a good listener, a slower paced, calmer, centered, wiser, seasoned and less-excitable presence is my advice. This “zen” presence is required to deal with the high anxiety of seller’s and buyers and rocky experience of the market today. A calm direction for the players to go is required to be provided to get buyers and seller’s through a troubled negotiation. Each deal is frought with torpedos like sour appraisals, lending restrictions that pop our of the blue and nock out the 720 plus credit buyers. Inspection issues that used to be routine to solve now cut deals up. Expectations shift twice as fast and far as they used to and weather changes all the time. Swings occur daily during deals..
I find myself continually having to practice un-attachment. Of being able to shift to the changing reality because buyer’s just keep demanding more every week and month as this recession grinds on and on. One example of this.. .to make it real for you… I just had a deal killed a few hours ago because we attached a slightly different language to a short sale rider that is common. The buyer walked. No counter. No complaint. Just killed the deal. Flat done. “don’t like that rider”. I was like Wow. I had to create a new path/idea around the rider. Again more effort. Creativity. Communication. Calmness needed. Being in the moment. How do we fix this now? Working through. We are talking about a property I had under contract twice in a year and the deal fell through and I got the short sale approved but the loan/buyer then fell apart.
This is why those of us still in this business have emerged as someone and something new. And we are all capable of being someone very patient, calm, in the moment. We are beyond frustration and the emotions of loss. We are all about getting to it now and doing it with a wisdom that is unprecedented for most of us.