After years of classroom teaching, I decided to go back to school and finish my masters degree. I didn’t take a classroom and moved to Eugene. I planned on being a college student, again… Well, what’s the saying about the best laid plans? The month my teaching program was to begin I was notified that it had been indefinitely postponed. Via email. Hmph. Now what? We had recently jumped into the remodel game with a house that needed a lot of work. I felt pretty confident I could sell that house. I had bought a house and built and sold a house. I saw what the agents did. I thought I could do that. I thought I could be a real estate agent.
Real estate school was easy to find with many options for my learning style. It cost much less than the graduate tuition I was planning on paying, so I did it. The material covered laws, finance and fiduciary duty among many other things. I finished in 10 weeks, tested a month later and became a newly licensed real estate broker. Woohoo!! But how do I actually sell a home or better yet list a home for sale? How do I actually make money at this?
In my new plans (even with high failure rate of my plans, I still make them), I thought if I could be an assistant I could learn the ins and outs of this industry that seems like people do so well in. My assistantship turned into being a social media specialist at a local real estate company. Local is important in my opinion. I have never been good at the corporate life. The large companies seemed very competitive and expensive with all the desk and admin fees. Seeing as I wasn’t even sure how to actually sell a house, paying tons to work at a place seemed kinda crazy.
My new job as a social media specialist and office helper has been a tremendous learning curve. I am involved in the daily real estate industry. Skyslope, RMLS, RLID, Zipforms, all kinds of online tools for the industry. There is so much coming at me. My brain is pulsing with new growth and new connections. There are a million acronyms (very similar to teaching), there are communication breakdowns and personality differences and people trying to make deadlines. There are title and escrow people and lenders all stopping by and vying for the business. Inspectors and stagers, clients and friends all come to the beautiful turn of the century house that is the business headquarters.
Social Media. In full disclosure, I broke up with Facebook about five years ago because we had an unhealthy relationship. I was out of the loop on that medium. I did take to the ether with Instagram and Pinterest and felt rather comfortable in my abilities to promote business using said sites. LinkedIn and Twitter, that was another game I hadn’t tapped. Well, I jumped feet first. I have and still due research best practices for social media. How to engage and get followers. Best apps for pictures and scheduling. Facebook and I went through crash course relationship therapy, which really was me dealing with my self-doubt and self-judgement in a adult manner and always having a filter of “it’s a highlight reel”. I needed to remember and relearn the delicacies of Facebook which is a constantly morphing entity. I stay up at night thinking of Pinterest boards and Instagram ideas. Twitter has not captured my heart, yet. So my world of reflection on best teaching practices transformed into social media. But how do I sell houses?
The question remains. How do people actually sell houses? I see the commission checks that I upload to Skyslope, I see the contracts and clients. I know where I want to be, I just don’t know the route to get there. So….. I ask for directions. Ugh, I know right. I have decided to look to the agents who have experience, sales, and attitude that resonates with my style. It can be tricky. When I was teaching, I knew the game. I knew how to be a good teacher and have real relationships and actually teach things. Now, I am a newbie and it’s like starting all over. My successes and knowledge I bring with me is only mine. People don’t know me. And this biz is all about getting to know people.
Directions of successful brokers, check. Put my self out there, almost. With my previous employment, teaching and bar tending, the people come to you. They want what you have. Or they are mandated by law to be there. But with real estate? It seems all about getting your face in front of people. Having them remember you, to call you later when their friend needs to buy a house. Let me add another layer to this conundrum. I just moved to this city about 6 months ago. I don’t family here, just making some friends and I don’t have the “sphere of influence” I would have if I lived here for years. Well, this leads me to marketing. How do I get my face in front of other peoples faces? Hence the mailings and my friend Facebook.
Mailings? Essentially junk mail (on recycled paper and earth conscience ink). It’s small postcards for me. With handy info like when to switch our clocks and spring cleaning tips. I don’t know if they work. I have only sent out 200 post cards. It’s a wait and see thing with mailers. And Facebook? I jumped into the business pages of FB and paid for an ad. I researched ads vs. boosts and felt pretty confident with ads. I picked a weekend and tried it. My adds reached almost 600 people and got one like. One like!! My business page has almost 50 likes. Now, I am not entirely sure how that translates into selling a house, but I am putting myself out there which were clear directions from successful brokers.
Can I explain putting my face out there for a smidge? I am an awkward photographing subject. There is something that happens when I know someone is taking my picture. I clam up, make a weird face and it’s like the Hawthorne effect. I get a weird picture because I act weird. That being said, my trusty assistant/advisor/confidant patiently waited and snapped until we got a decent photo of my face. It took four outfits and one melt down, but it happened. And now? My face is on 1000 business cards, the real estate website, my FB business page, mailers, newspaper ads, flyers and I am sure some other places. Have you ever seen the same shot of your face up close daily? It’s not easy. I wonder how the direction giving seasoned pro’s do it. Do they block it out or just come to some type of acceptance. Is this my spiritual path that requires me to see my face and not pick out all the flaws?
Oh, business cards. There is something about giving a stranger a business card. I feel imposing and vulnerable at the same time. I get kooky and nervous at the thought. So my assistant/advisor/confidant thought it would be good for us to go out one night and practice. Okay, I can do this. We were having a delicious cider at First National Tap House and I notice the woman next to me is eating a fabulous looking salad. I start talking to her about it without the slightest intention giving her my card. I was just chatting. My assistant/advisor/confidant whispers in my ear “give her your card”, twice. Oh boy, the nerves punched me in the stomach. I reach into my card case, still chatting about the salad or the weather, I don’t actually know due to the white noise nerves. I get my card, thrust it in her face unceremoniously and announce in a louder than normal voice, “I like your style, if you ever want to buy or sell here’s my card!” then turn on a dime and hightail out of there. That’s it. I jabbed my card at her and ran. My assistant/advisor/confidant thought it was ridiculous. I had no warm up or chit chat about real estate. I dropped the card and ran. I still need A LOT of work on the savvy card sharing. If it was more formal with head bowing and a known exchange procedure I think I could do much better. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a more chances to practice.
The now what and the how to actually sell a house, turns out its a work in progress. I went from knowing my exact paycheck and schedule to the unknown. It’s thrilling and terrifying. It’s like when you are going to jump off something really high into water. The moments you are on the edge, looking down. You know it could be so fun. Or you could slap the water with the weight of the world pulling you down. It’s exhilarating! You have a chance to turn around. You could just walk into the water, why jump from high. And herein lies the existential rift. Safety and security versus big splashes and freedom.
I have always been a jumper.