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A Crazy Industry

I'm sorry that I haven't written anything in almost a week but I had a client down here from Los Angeles and I've spent the last four days showing her, and her friends, houses. I've shared, with a few of you, my desire to hang up my pen and finally completely retire from the active work force, unfortunately this industry, and my boss, won't let me quit.

The skills you accumulated over the years in an industry, whether it is sales, plumbing, or graphic design, eventually begin to erode, even if just a tiny bit, exposing you to the younger people in your profession as that old man who should move aside.

I still have enough self awareness to see it in me, more times lately than before, to know it is time to move along. I don't want to be that dottering old man yelling at others, or complaining about some perceived injustice, and making a fool of myself. I've done that enough already in my career.

My boss, since I told her I wanted to step aside about two months ago, has gone out of her way to throw clients, jobs, and other things my way in order for me to stay actively involved in this industry. When I asked her why she was suddenly so interested in making me money, she said, "you are the only one I can count on and trust to do the job." I told her she needed to find better people then because if I'm her best, this agency might be in trouble.

It also explains why she is tireless, and works 21 hours a day. When it's your business you tend to be a little bit more involved in keeping the income train coming. She went away for a month recently, didn't say anything, but just kept telling everyone to call me if they needed anything. Suddenly I'm the busiest realtor in the Coachella Valley and I have no idea why until the people in the office told me what was going on.

Anyway, as most of you know this was not my primary industry for sales in my career. I spent nearly 35 years in the consumer products/consumer electronics industry where I worked for every company in America. I spent most of the last fifteen years, in that industry, in the management of salespeople. I know good and bad salespeople when I see them.

I don't want to generalize an industry, I mean it's not like they are all Republicans, but there are more bad salespeople in the real estate industry than I've ever seen in my life. And I don't mean bad like with a little help they could be good, I mean bad like they have no freaking clue what they are doing.

They are, with some exceptions, rude, ignorant of the laws, clueless as to how to work with clients, and most of all, determined to not work with other agents professionally under any circumstances. And I see this daily.

I can count on one hand the number of really bad salespeople I worked with in my previous life, in fact I could probably give you their names if you gave me five minutes to think on it. In the real estate game, I could count on one hand the good salespeople I have met in five years. And they are all, good and bad, making money hand over fist in spite of their lack of skills.

I can now see why the industry is moving away from actual people selling houses, to virtual selling becoming the preferred way to buy. Why would you want to work with an idiot when you are buying, or selling, the most important possession in your life? I can't tell you how many times I've had to bite my tongue when I've heard something stupid come out of the mouth of another agent.

I've never said I have all the answers when I've been selling, and I've always followed my dad's advice, "if you don't know, say you don't know, and then go find the answers." This weekend alone I encountered a salesperson holding an open house who didn't know what was included with the HOA fees. Now this is pretty basic stuff so why would you be sitting at an open house and not be able to answer a simple question?

I also ran into a guy, showing a condo to two clients as I arrived with mine. We waited outside for him to finish and I asked him for the keys to the house so I could lock up after we were done. He refused to give them to me and instead locked the door and put the key back into the lock box. I had to then open it with my code and open the doors for my client. Now what did he think I was gong to do if he just gave me the keys, rob the place? What an asshole.

There was a new listing that my client wanted to see before she left town so I called the agent the night before and asked if we could see it the next morning. I gave her almost 14 hours notice. Her listing said, "Show this house!!! Easy to show!!!" She texted me at 9:30 PM the night before to tell me that the tenets in the house wouldn't vacate because they didn't have enough time to get ready. 14 hours! I told her good luck selling the place.

It is this craziness I see every day and wonder why am I doing this still? I also think if I had known my competition was so godawful I would have gotten into real estate about fifty years ago and would now be living on my palatial estate overlooking the Pacific in Maui.

I have three clients that I am in various stages of working with, and once they are happily ensconced in their new homes, it will be time for me to call it a career. What haunts me, is that I know, with even the most minimal effort, I could earn $20,000 a year selling real estate forever doing practically nothing.

But do I really want to be that guy?

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