Three great questions to ask an agent.

If you’re a middle-aged right-brained real estate agent who finds himself at a social event attended mainly by techies young enough to be your sons and daughters, I suggest you try these sure-fire conversation starters, guaranteed to bridge any unbridgeable gap in age or interests:

•”Don’t ever turn fifty.”
•”In the great debate between wet and dry carpet cleaning, I find myself firmly in the wet camp.”
•”Although I admire the attitude of the French Symbolists, every time I read them in translation they sound like two empty metal garbage cans rolling down a flight of stairs.”

Or you can talk about real estate. Endlessly. And hand out your business card, even though you swore you’d never stoop that low.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to answer these three great questions.

1. Do you consider real estate your calling?

Answer: After we new agents had survived a rigorous and eye-opening eight-week training course—yes, newbies do get trained, at least at the better brokerages—one of our number stood up and announced, “I know now that real estate is my calling. Real estate is what I was born to do”. And I thought, “how pretentious can you get? Missionaries have callings. Teachers have callings. But real estate agents?”

That was in July 1998, and it took me, oh, until maybe August 1998 to figure out that she was right. The money is usually good, and the freedom is always great, but real estate is invariably a tough business and, at least if you have a fairly rational attitude toward the mindless pursuit of material happiness, there has to be something more to it than getting to drive your Mercedes to the office late because you were there until midnight writing an offer. Meeting great people? You bet. Making a huge difference? Absolutely.

But that essential, essentially spiritual “something more” might also be called “answering a calling”.

Or call it “obsessed”, and I won’t mind.

2. How do you make buyers comfortable enough to buy, especially in a market as uncertain as this?

Answer: Here’s how you don’t make buyers comfortable: show them four properties and then sulk when they don’t make an offer. Or tell them, “Call me when you want to buy something”.

You do make buyers comfortable by educating them, and by letting them know that you don’t expect them to buy something the first day you meet them—or the next day, or even the next month. Because you know that you wouldn’t move that quickly.

You do make buyers comfortable by letting them see, in ways large and small, that you think of yourself as their advisor, not as a salesperson. Of course, you never forget that your brokerage thinks of you, first and maybe last, as a salesperson, so you hope that, eventually and preferably sooner rather than later, the buyers you work with buy. Fortunately, almost all do. And if the experience is as pleasant for them as it can be for any high-risk/high-reward competition/adventure, they’ll refer friends to you, and stay in touch with you, and invite you to their social events.

3. Why do all agents drive Mercedes?

Answer: Because all agents drive Mercedes.

copyright © John Fyten 2010

Leave a Reply