My first day of being a Realtor

The prep work to become a realtor is sort of crazy.  Take classes.  Take a test.  Pass the test.  Take the state test.  Pass the state test.  Find a broker to hold your license.  Transfer your license to them from the Real Estate Commission.  Join LBAR.  Take LBAR new agent classes.  Set up the LBAR profile.  Get an agent ID number.  Get your picture for cards.  Order cards.  Get set up at your new office.

Then nothing because you don’t have any clients.

I do remember sitting at my computer at home in March of 2005.  It was the first time I ever logged into the “Agent only” access to LBAR.  I was so excited.  I got to see selling prices, what type of financing the buyer did, who the buyer’s agent was, the agent only remarks, seller disclosures, if there were any seller paid concessions, etc.

After I spent about an hour playing around on that site I think I went outside and played with my kids because there was nothing to do.

That was the last day I ever had nothing to do.  I think I have worked literally every single day since then, at least a little.

I would have never imagined what today was like.  Doing about everything online.  Back then I would send maybe 10 texts a day and spend hours on the phone talking to people.  Now I spend 10 minutes talking to people and all day texting.  I would have been shocked that there would be a giant website to look at houses for sale anywhere.  I would have been even more shocked that the Great Recession would wipe out about 20% of the property values here and make being a new realtor a bit more challenging.

Sometimes when I log on to LBAR in the morning to see new listings, pending and sold houses, I remember sitting at my old computer that day.  Keeping up with the market is one of the few things that really fascinates me…..the other two are cars and the beauty of nature.  It’s been a good time and I sure hope to be doing this for at least the next 15 years.

How I knew I would become a Realtor

I think I’ve always known I would be in real estate, even long before I knew what it was called.

Some of my earliest memories are about neighborhoods, houses, floor plans, etc.

I remember the street my grandparent’s lived on.  It was mostly built in the 1940s.  There were a lot of Tudor looking houses with dramatic roof pitches.  Most had asbestos tile siding.  There were a few brick ranches from the 50s/60s.  I always wondered why those houses were different.

A kid named Chris lived across the street.  His backyard was a hill.  I always liked the better view he had over my grandparents house but I did like the flat yard and privacy my grandparent’s had.

We lived in an apartment complex for a while.  I really liked the design of the buildings.  Our unit faced an open field that was great for playing.  I had a friend who lived across the parking lot.  His building was sort of built into a hillside.  There were lot of steps and turns you had to take to get to his front door.  I remember thinking I liked our easier access and view better, but I thought it was cool how getting to his front door was more eventful and intriguing.

Then I lived in a house sitting up on a hill.  The house right next door was the mirror image of our house.  I remember noticing that we had the only “Ditto” houses on the street and wondered how that happened?

Next was a fairly new house in a neighborhood still under construction.  We had a vacant lot behind us.  When a house was built, it ruined the backyard for me.  It sat higher than our house and that bothered me.  It was like the house was casting a shadow on our house.  We had some drainage problems too.

All of this and I wasn’t even 10 years old yet.

Now nearly 40 years later, it is still hard for me to believe that I have made a living out of telling people what I think about houses, neighborhoods and floor plans.

It’s been really good!

Once I was 7 years old & was already The LEXpert

Any of my clients can tell you that I am always making random observations about any house I show them.

I was just thinking about that this morning and realized I have always done that, ever since I was a kid.  I have always been critiquing, comparing/contrasting houses as long as I can remember.

When I was probably 7 years old, I noticed that our backyard was flatter, more private, but smaller than the houses across the street.  Ours was better for playing hide and seek and my best friend’s house across the street was better for playing baseball.  That same house had an addition built on the back of it that had this smaller section of a larger L shaped room.  I never got why it was built that way.  It was wasted space.

We moved into a very small house that had a shared driveway.  It was very steep.  So steep that nobody ever used it for cars.  I remember thinking “Who would do that do a house?”  It was a two bedroom house.  One of the bedrooms was more than twice as big as the other.  That bothered me a bit.  The house next door was the same floor plan just reversed.  You could look out our hall window and see into their hall window….which led to the first time my 9 year old eyes saw a girl in her underwear, lol.

Then we moved to another town.  Our house sat lower than the ones to the side and rear.  That really bothered me.  The house behind us wasn’t there when we moved in, so I knew how much better it was without a house there.  Once the houses behind us were built, we started to have some drainage problems.  This is probably why I am always trying to help clients visualize what might be in the empty lots and fields around them when they build a house.

Then we moved to Lexington when I was in high school.  We had a cool house.  The house on both sides sat way back in their lots.  It was strange to see a house on either side of your backyard fence, but it made it nice to look out the side windows and see grass instead of having a brick wall 10 feet away.  It was this neighborhood that taught me a bit about traffic patterns and which roads got more cars than others.

Then I got married and we lived in an apartment on Redding Road.  I loved that location.  Close to everything.  We had a basement apartment. I didn’t like that.  There wasn’t much natural light and everybody parked right at our front door.

Then we moved into one of those houses that sat way back in their lot next door to my parent’s house.  It sat lower than their house.  I felt like my parent’s house was about to jump over the fence into my front yard.  I didn’t like it.

The first house we owned was in Winchester.  I really liked that house, but it began a trend of me living about 2-3 houses in from a busy corner and having a busy road a block behind me.  I don’t like a bedroom on the back of the house when you have a busy road back there.  Makes it harder to fall asleep.

The next house didn’t have a flat ten square feet anywhere on the lot.  I don’t like sloping lots.

The next house had a flat lot.  Other than the noise from the busy road behind it, I liked it a lot.

All of which brings me to my current house.  It broke the curse of the busy road behind me.  I’m about as far into my neighborhood as you can be.  There are only two ways in and out of the neighborhood.  Nobody comes down my dead end road unless they are lost or neighbors.  I like that.  I keep saying I want to move but I haven’t found anything I like any better.  About all I would change is to have more natural light and maybe taller ceilings on the main level.

So, when I say:

“Will that busy road being so close bother you?”

“If you were to have kids, do you know that there is no where to put a swingset or sandbox?”

“This house is dark inside.  Will that bother you?”

“Does it bother you that the neighbor’s deck sits higher than your deck and you won’t have much privacy if both of you are outside?”

You now have an idea of how I came to notice these types of things.

What’s it like being a realtor?

It is EXACTLY like you see on HGTV.

Hahahaha.  No.  Not really.

I can’t speak to what it is like for most realtors, only myself….so here goes.

What is a typical day like?

There really are no typical days for me.  Some days I have more things to do than I have time.  Other days I have little to do.  Some days I am running all over the place.  Other days I am sitting in front of a computer all day.

What is the busiest time of day?

It has always seemed like 3-5 Monday through Friday is when my phone blows up.  Clients, other realtors, appraisers, etc.  I guess people are trying to finish their to do list for the day or are just getting off work and ready to talk real estate.

What have you done today so far?

This is usually a slower time of year for me.  I tend to do most of work in waves.  This is the between waves time.  I just closed the most work I have ever done in the past 8 months and am waiting for the next wave to come.  I used to get nervous during these times, thinking it would never come back, but it always does.  I am trying to enjoy it.  I guess I still haven’t answered the question?  Today I slept in a bit, drank some coffee, sat with my dog while scrolling through Facebook.  Then I ran some comps for an upcoming listing, cranked out a few emails, and started this blog.  Unless something changes, my plans for the rest of the day are to wash cars.  However, what often happens with any slow day is that you wake up with little to do and suddenly you have a lot to do.   It can change in a heart beat depending on if you have a problem with a transaction of if a cool houses hits the market and you have to show it to a client.

What is the best part of being a realtor?

Helping people and being trusted.  Most of my work anymore is from people who have used me several times.  They know I am giving them the best advice possible to serve their interests.  The second best thing is getting to drive around in cars I love.

What is the worst part?

Not having much free time.  I have taken one full day off in the past 15 years.  Sometimes I have very little to do, but there is always something that needs done, plus you never know when the right house is going to hit the market and you need to get one of your clients in to see it.  It is sort of like being on call 24/7.

How has it changed in the past 15 years?

When I got into this, realtors dressed up a lot and hung around the office.  I didn’t see the point of either.  Now it is much more casual and realtors work from home more often.  We used to present offers to sellers or fax the offer to the listing agent’s office.  Then we quit presenting offers (THANKFULLY!) and used PDFs.  Today we use electronic signatures and the actual document doesn’t even physically exist unless somebody prints it.  I used to spend hours a day talking on the phone.  Now everybody texts.

What will the next 15 years be like for you?

I hope pretty much the same.  I enjoy working.  I hope my streak of working with people who have used me in the past and people that were referred to me continues.  I never had to advertise or do any marketing to attract work and I sure hope I never have to do that…..mostly because I am no good at it.

Why THIS sale means so much to me

I just sold this townhouse.  Know why it is significant to me?

1156 Appian 305 - 001

Because it was the very first house I ever sold.

It was late Spring in 2005.  The ink was still drying on my real estate license when some friends of mine were in the market for their first house.  We looked for a few months and they decided on this place.  It was brand new.

I’ve got a few funny memories of this sale and this townhouse.

It was closing day.  I was really stressed out since this was going to be my first closing ever.  It seemed like such a huge deal at the time.

One of the things a Buyer’s agent has to do is get the Buyer’s earnest money check to take to the closing.  I had not thought about the earnest money since I turned in the Buyer’s original check to my office manager.  Here we were hours before the closing and I am in a mad rush to get my office to cut the check.

We get to the closing.  This was the last 15 minutes of a super hot market.  The closing was at 5 on Friday.  The title company probably had 15 closing that day.  Everybody was eager to get home.  I remember the closing attorney and the listing agent talking about the emerging trend of getting granite countertops.

Once the closing was done, I went out to my car and made sure I had all the documents I needed to take back to my office.  I was so relieved to have it done.

Then I realized two things:  That the closing attorney did not ask for my Buyer’s earnest money check AND they did not give me my commission check.  I had to run around the parking lot looking for her.  LOL, yes, I forgot that I was getting a paycheck since I was so focused on getting everything done and doing it correctly.

What did I do with that paycheck?  I bought a couch that we still have in our living room.

A while after my friends moved in, the husband and I were going out on a Friday night with another friend.  I picked up the other friend and we went to this townhouse.  The seller was on his computer watching some silly Star Wars Lego video.  I asked what it was and he said Youtube.  I was like “WHATtube???”  He explained that it was a site where people could upload videos for anybody to watch.  I remember thinking “Why would I want to watch a bunch of homemade movies when I have cable TV?”

I’ve remained friends with these sellers and this will be their 4th time using me.

I’ve probably never said it this directly, but I am incredibly thankful that they decided to put their faith in a guy with zero experience.  Getting started in real estate is very tough…or at least it was in 2005.  And now 14 years later, almost to the exact date, they have trusted me again.

(NOTE:  While that red BMW in the picture does look nice, I wanted to disclose it is not one of mine.)