Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Naked Truth (or, Why I Love Working in Real Estate)

I'm pretty sure there's not a person out there that is 100% happy with their job every minute of every day. Even the "Professional Video Game Tester" or the "Chief Chocolate Taster" or sometimes even the "Male Underwear Model Photographer" must have moments where they say "MAN, my job SUCKS!" Probably not often, but hey, it's gotta happen!

I had one of those days yesterday. First of all, let me clarify: 99% of the time I really do love my job. Real Estate is one of those rare careers where you can make a fairly decent living without needing to be a Corporate Slave, chained to a desk for 8, 10 or 12 hours a day. You can often (but not always) pick and choose when you want to work, who you would like to work with and how often you would like to take a vacation. You can also pretty much control how much money you'd like to make each year. I'll admit, it's a decent gig.

It is not, however, easy. In reality, helping someone to buy or sell a home is actually a very small part of what we do. We are frequently called upon to be marriage counsellors, appliance sales people, financial advisors, interior designers, tour guides, taxi drivers, couriers, photographers and mind readers. Clients have read my bio on my website and asked: "You have a degree in Psychology and you ended up selling Real Estate?" I reply: "You'd be surprised how much it helps".

I have been working in the Real Estate industry since I was 12 years old - June 1987, to be exact. Real Estate is in my blood - it's pretty much the only thing I have ever done. I was there when the market exploded in the late 80s, worked through the awful recession in the early 90s (a Real Estate office was a mighty depressing place to work in 1991, let me tell you) and enjoyed the strength and stability of the market in the "new millennium". I have worked in reception, accounting, marketing, training and finally sales. I became licenced on May 1st, 1997. In fact, as I am typing this, I realize that today is the 14 year anniversary of the day I sold my very first house. (H-section, Brampton, $130K, multiple offer situation. They say you never forget your first.....) Every day since has truly been an adventure.

The wonderful thing about Real Estate is that no two "days at the office" are quite the same. When you wake up each morning, you often have no idea what you are going to walk into through the course of your day. I was driving to an appointment this afternoon thinking about the less-than-stellar work day I had yesterday and took a walk-down memory lane thinking about some of the more fun and interesting days this career has brought me. The following story popped into my head and I felt it needed to be shared. Enough time has passed now that I can actually laugh at a situation which, at the time, I was convinced was going to land me in therapy.

I received a call from a gentleman one day who wanted to sell his house. Let's call him "Richard". He wanted to sell his townhouse because he was buying a condo-type property at the Four Seasons Nudist Resort near Guelph. He asked me if it bothered me that he was going to be a practicing Nudist. "Of course not", I replied, "whatever floats your....ummm....boat"

I gathered the information I needed for the listing appointment and planned to meet him the following day. When I arrived at his home the next afternoon, I was surprised to discover that he wasn't "planning to become a nudist", he was already a full-fledged practicing NAKED PERSON! That's right folks, Richard greeted me at the front door wearing nothing but a SMILE. Nothing they taught me in Phase 3 quite prepared me for this moment.

What did I do then, you ask??? Well I went in and gave a kick-ass listing presentation, of course! But first, I followed him around as he gave me a tour of his home. There was not a window in the place had blinds or any sort of curtain so it was a little awkward standing in the living room looking out the HUGE picture window with a naked man at my side. I also had to try REALLY hard not to laugh when we stood at the back door and I remarked about the size of his deck. Following him up the stairs for a tour of the bedrooms was equally fun (whatever you do NOT LOOK UP!!!)

It's truly amazing that no matter how hard you try not to look at IT, your eyes seem to have a mind of their own! Looking back, I am actually pretty impressed that I kept my composure long enough to survive the X-rated house tour. All I kept thinking was "Let's just get to the table so we can sit down and I won't have to see IT staring back at me any longer". We made our way to the kitchen and, wouldn't you know it, it was a FREAKIN' GLASS TABLE!!! Looked like I was going to be giving this listing presentation to Richard....and Richard Jr. At this point I began looking around the room for the film crew because this felt like a "Surprise!! You're on candid camera!!!" moment.

Of course, my husband, friends and a few colleagues enjoyed some hearty laughter at my expense over this one. Most everyone that I told the story to was quite shocked that I actually stuck around. He never did sell his house (maybe he decided he didn't have what it takes to be a nudist? I can imagine it would get awfully cold......), but he's still on my mailing list and every once in a while I'll get an email from him. If nothing else, it's a funny story that I can reflect on when I have a day like I had yesterday. Laughter is definitely the best cure for a rotten day at the office.

All in all, I love what I do for a living. It hasn't always been smooth sailing, but the good experiences definitely outweigh the bad. Real Estate may be unpredictable, stressful, draining and emotional but it is certainly not BORING! I am thankful to have had the chance to spend the last 24 years of my life in one of the most dynamic industries in the world.

But let's be honest, "Chief Chocolate Taster" would be pretty cool too!

J :)