Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I've been in new home sales for years. 

Over 15 years to be exact.

It has been a journey. 

A very long journey.

I started in the real estate business in 1988 as a way to pass the time. My cousin called me and asked me if I wanted to go to real estate school with her. Of course, I said yes so it was off to school.  I passed the test and got ready to enter the world of high finance.

Entry into the world of real estate.

Toward the end of the course companies would come into the school and invite you to open houses and try to recruit you. I ruled out Century 21 because I didn't look good in the gold jackets.

Next was the Americana Group. I was alright with the fee's but they wanted me to refer my husband's building to a commercial agent. Now, why would I do that? It was my building and they were going to give me a referral fee? Nope. I was done with them!

So I signed on with a company where I felt comfortable. My ex-husband knew the broker and so I started. We got "floor time" and I couldn't wait to show homes. I got a prospect right away so I researched homes in their price range. New agents tend to go overboard and I was no different. I picked out 15 homes that would have worked for them. I made an appointment to show the homes. I was off and running!

The day from hell.

My former husband had given me a beautiful Cadillac and I picked up my prospects for a day of viewing homes. I was so excited to show homes and start in real estate! I was excited until they got in the car. They had two monsters that were put in my back seat. They got their sticky little hands all over my nice blue seats and screamed all the way to the homes. I showed a home that was vacant and the moment I opened the door, I knew I was in trouble. The previous owners must have had dogs that were allowed to use the carpet as their own private bathroom. It was September and still very warm so with the power off and the heat rising in the home, it smelled to high heaven. Believe it or not, this was the high point of the day.

By the time the day was over I was ready to kill the parents and I wanted to drop the little monsters at the first corner that I saw. All I wanted to do was GO HOME. I've never been big on people that let their kids do whatever they wanted without restraint. These people had pushed every button and gotten on the last nerve that I had. I dropped them off and drove home.  I collapsed into a chair and wondered whether this work concept was worth it.

The next morning (around 11:00)  I bounced back refreshed and with a great attitude called my new prospects fully expecting to write an offer on my first home. I was floored when they said they had called on a home that they saw that was for sale by owner and was buying it. You've GOT to be kidding me! Thanks but no thanks! I was pissed! They ran me all over town and then didn't buy anything? What kind of business was this? What had I gotten into? 

I walked right into the brokers office and said I wasn't going to make it in residential real estate and that I wanted to be transferred to the commercial office. He was kind and told me I was too new to be in the commercial office. I informed him that I'd learn it quickly and basically bullied my way in to an office with seasoned agents. I stayed in commercial real estate for the next 6 years. I loved it but life had other things in mind.

Life and career changes.

After I got divorced I realized I would have to subscribe to the "work to survive" concept. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled but I had to figure out a plan for my life. What would I do in real estate? Commercial and land deals took a VERY long time to put together and if I wanted to support my family that would not work. 

The light bulb goes on.

I knew what I wanted to do! I would sell new homes!! Those people in the model homes JUST SAT THERE. They didn't do anything. They just handed out brochures and did nothing. New homes should be a piece of cake! Boy, did I have that wrong!  I was fortunate enough to be hired by a man who took pity on me and taught me the in's and outs of new homes. During those years the agents had to do the final walk on the home so when I did that with my first buyer she actually sat on the floor and cried. She was so happy to finally own a home and this was her first. I sat on the floor and cried with her. That's all it took and I was hooked. I'd found my niche and fell in love with new home sales.

The tide turns.

Years go by and I met wonderful people and worked at some great and some not-so-great companies. What I didn't bargain for is the abusive nature of new home sales and what builders do to their agents.

Some of the questions that are asked to see if the relationship is abusive are:

Do you feel that you can't discuss with your partner what is bothering you?
Does your partner frequently criticize you, humiliate you, or undermine your self-esteem?
Does your partner ridicule you for expressing yourself?
Does your partner isolate you from friends, family or groups?
Does your relationship swing back and forth between emotional distance and being very close?
Do you sometimes feel trapped in the relationship?
Are you afraid of your partner?

If you can answer yes to most of those questions.........BINGO!  Gee, ya think???

I think the agents that I've worked with could answer yes to most of those questions. One builder's vice-president of sales even had the audacity to tell me that the job came before God and family and he was serious.  Builders love you one minute and hate you the next. You are only as good as your last deal.  They keep you off balance and they have mind control techniques that could rival the Marines. We used to laugh about being in boot camp. They keep you down and hungry thinking that will help you sell more homes. They encourage cut-throat competition believing it's better for the bottom line. It's no wonder that a lot of the people I know got sick. The work load and stress level is beyond belief. The smiles that we wear when people walk through the door mask a great deal of pain.  When times are good the builders think you're an order taker and when times are bad they cut your pay because the margins "just aren't there." It's a tough business, make no mistake about that.

The tide turns again.

So now I have to figure out what I want to do in the world of real estate again. Walking the land and framed homes and putting up with builders egos and expectations are maybe just a little bit more than I can handle. I have no idea if I can do this again.

I'll give it to them. They've managed to kill off passion and love in favor of people to whom they can pay a small amount and turn quickly if they don't sell homes. They've taken the joy out of selling so now it's time to decide if I want to even try to go back.

Maybe it's time to be on the other side of the desk.

Wow........history really does repeat itself.


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