A lot of people enjoy reading the news using tablets or smartphones or glasses; Michael House likes to read the newspaper on paper. With coffee. Old school. That's why he's up at 5:00AM for it: he's old school like that.
He lives in a house he bought three years ago and as a "unique fixer-upper," and he's still in the "fixer"stage. For him, homes are like stocks in the market—every day he wakes up and wonders if he should be a buyer or a seller. So he checks in with the newspaper's business section to see how the last day's market performed.
Even the house Michael lives in is more of an investment than a home. The market is hot right now—he wants to sell aggressively. Today, his house feels minty fresh nice and he thinks it'd make a lovely home for...y'know, somebody...and at a nice profit above what he paid.
He thinks mortgage rates will go up soon and the market will cool; he wants to have dry powder for a year from now when it'll be time to strike—right around the time everyone thinks the housing market is dead, and the cover of Time says nobody is ever going to move again, and "For Sale" signs are being added to museums as relics of an earlier time. That's the time to play offense.
As he heads out the door on his way to the office at 7:00AM, Michael stands in front of his house for a moment to admire the craftsmanship that went into it. He loves his reproduction colonial-style shutters, large windows that allow sunlight to stream into the living room, and the attractive tile roof that screams elegance and sophistication.
He makes a mental note to think about listing it. The market feels heavy now—he'd love to be sitting on a bunch of cash when the bottom falls out.
By 8:00AM, Michael is walking into his real estate office. His new company, Better Homes for a Better You, Inc. has been picking up steam in the last couple of months. He's brought on four new real estate agents to handle all of the business. His firm has sold fourteen homes for ten million in gross sales.
Of that, his firm's take is $300,000 (or three percent, which sounds a lot smaller than it is), of which Mike himself will keep about $75,000—more than enough to cover his rent, secretary, media buys, and overhead, as well as a little something for himself. Relative to how much new brokerages do their first year, Mike's killing it.
Janie, his assistant, is patiently looking through the newspaper for FSBOs (that's For Sale By Owners) that the company can contact to see if they need their services. Sellers of FSBOs are value-conscious, and sometimes the lower commission can still be enticing. Mike makes a mental note to borrow (or steal) the paper later.
At 10:30AM, the only personal appointment of the day enters: a cute, if slightly doe-eyed, couple.
Mike opens with the same line every time. "Tell me about your dream home."
They use words like "quaint," "charming," and "two stories." But Mike needs more details—there are a hundred homes like the one they outline on the market. He wants to show them eight or nine and get an offer out of them before they hit the magic ten.
He presses them, asking if they like to entertain, and how many kids they have, and what their hobbies are. He finds out that they love entertaining, which means he needs to find them a house with a large kitchen, immense living room, and roomy dining room. Oh, and the husband is a lawyer who likes bird watching. Michael needs to find a home that has a wooded backyard.
"I have a few ideas. How about we meet again this evening?"
The couple looks relieved and happy as they leave. Michael calls Janie (who wants to be a realtor someday) into his office and gives her some notes, so that she can scour the MLS and provide "suitable" recommendations. She does it with a hint of attitude—but a hint of attitude is why she got the job in the first place. She'll go far in this career.
At 12:30PM, Michael attends a Real Estate Brokers Power Lunch downtown. Talk about a total schmooze-fest.
After the third round of crab cakes, Michael meets with a new client who's really just a "shopper"—uncertain of whether or not he actually wants to buy. He keeps talking about going around in circles, which causes a light bulb to go off in Michael's head.
He knows the perfect home for him—round floorplan, round beds, round ceilings, a whole circle design—and he wants to get him emotionally invested fast. This is Michael's game, so he knows he'll get him to come around eventually. It's the circle of life; it moves us all.
A huge percentage of people who make an offer for a home end up closing, so a big hurdle is getting them to give in to temptation and make an offer.
Back at the office with a lukewarm lead at 2:00PM, Michael spends the rest of the day chatting with his real estate agents. He checks on their listings and makes sure that they're "moving the ball forward"—whatever that means in real estate.
Janie walks in with a list of houses for the couple he met with this morning.
"This one is perfect," Michael says, pointing to a multi-level Tudor with large family gathering spaces and a huge backyard.
"How do you know?"
"...Reasons. Sometimes I just know, okay?"
Michael is impressed with Janie's work these past few weeks. Tomorrow he's going to formally get her started in a realtor training program—she's got game. It'll also help matters once he frees up a little space by firing Nathaniel on Friday. That guy has been bringing everyone else down for too long. (Sorry Nathaniel, you brought this on yourself.)
At 6:00PM, Michael meets with the couple from earlier at a two-story English Tudor house.
"Wow. How did you know I would love a Tudor house?" the wife asks.
"You said you grew up in upstate New York; there are a lot of beautiful Tudor homes up there. And you also said you wanted a house that reminded you of home."
Bid in hand, Michael drives back to the office at 7:00PM to fill out paperwork and call the selling agent. He's excited, but not for the possible sale of the house. He's riding the vibe of convincing someone to buy something that'll change their lives. It feels good, and it makes his job just that much more worth it.
Of course, the three percent of $2.7 million will certainly feel good too.