Paul Crego, my original broker and mentor, called costly mistakes “tuition in life.” Maybe he knew that spin was far more empowering than my own on my goofs. He had another turn of the phrase when not such good things happened, and that was “now you are in the real estate business,” as if those occurrence were rites of passage. He was right. They are. You aren’t in the business until you get out there and get yourself exposed to good, the bad, and the ugly.
So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I’ll run down how you aren’t in the real estate business until…
- You waste money on an advertising or marketing campaign that flops. In 1998, it was radio spots. In 2003, it was the phone book. In 2008 it was an SEO or pay per click scheme. Got hoodwinked by a good salesperson with the secret to making more money? Welcome to the real estate business.
- You work with a buyer who will buy on the 30th of February. It could be a serial lowballer, or just a guy with time and house curiosity. But after 6 weeks, 20 lunches, countless gallons of petrol and needling from co workers, it dawns on you that there is no money here.
- You have an alarmist inspector kill a deal. ‘Nuff said.
- You have a buyer disappear. Congratulations! They accepted your offer! Hello? You there?
- You have a relative kill a deal. Typically a parent or in law who believes that the meager budget we have will buy the Taj Mahal. Extra points if they bring up something from Saturn, like a concern about flood plains, earthquakes, peak oil, or the impending collapse of the international monetary system.
- You lose a client over something utterly trivial. Really trivial.
- You have a disappearing act reappear and act like nothing happened. Chutzpah!
- You call someone back too late and lose the listing. I was reminded by Valerie Duncan Stewart about this one- it was one of my first bummers in the business. I had a VERY hot FSBO call me to list and I was a day late because of a voicemail glitch. He sold in two weeks with another broker. I still spend that lost money in a weak moment 12 years later.
- You have a friend or relative use someone else. This might be the sort of thing you find out after the fact, but what if they call you to “get the word out?” It happened once that way to me also. Welcome to the real estate business!
- You have an awful experience with a friend or relative. Of course, the flip side of the coin is when they DO use you, and then you realize you don’t know someone until you get in the boudoir of commerce with them. Happy now?
- Someone tries to weasel out of paying you. You too?
- Your buyer buys…from someone else. The great granddaddy of them all!
- You say something stupid and blow a deal. My personal specialty until about 1997.
- A lawyer kills your deal. Where applicable, of course.
- Your commission is treated like a slush fund to make a deal. Hey, everyone has 2 grand dads.