Most real estate agents are people-people more than thing-people. Were they not, the amount of chit-chat necessary to do this job would drive them batty. (Well, maybe that explains some of them, but that is beside the point.) You get my point; agents tend to be social-types.
There’s the rub.
First, agents work during what is social time for most people. I work after 5 PM during the week, when daylight permits, and I work daylight hours on the weekends. For me, and most working agents, going out on Saturday night is like going out on Tuesday night for 9-5ers. Yet our friends have “normal” schedules and are nice and relaxed on a Saturday night.
The second problem is shared by a lot of professionals. People at parties think it is friendly to ask for free advice or they think a social situation is an appropriate place and time to damn your whole profession and challenge you to agree. I hear the same complaint from psychologists, doctors, and carpenters.
The agent version goes like this:
1. Oh, you are a real estate agent! My brother’s house in East Armpit on Crescent Street is for sale. Have you seen it?... No?...Anyway, what do you think it’s worth?
2. Oh, you are a real estate agent. You people make too much money and don’t do any work! What do you think of that?
Since the recession started, I get a new response:
3. Oh, you are a real estate agent! Poor thing! The market is so-o-o tough…
When I say that I am doing OK, thank you, people go back to choice #1 or #2.
The party I most recently attended was not typical. It was in a client’s house and two other client-households were also in attendance. (Some of my clients were friends before they bought. A few become friends in the process. These people were the former.) At a party like that, comment 1 is allowed and usually answered with, “I’ll get the full info to you when I get back to my desk tomorrow.” Comment 2 did not come up.
Because I was among friends, Question 3 came up a lot. And I am doing OK. I tend to collect financially conservative buyers. My clients (as far as I know) have avoided the need to sell their houses because of wolves at the door. But a lot of my friends (not former clients) are listening to still distant howlings.
What I heard about unemployment is that -- particularly around middle-aged tech professionals -- long-term under-employment and long-term unemployment is common. Many with jobs felt like they were working two jobs and getting paid for one. In lay-off environments, workers can’t quit and go elsewhere because they are asked to do the work of their fired co-workers. People are cutting back, but holding on.
The six-month point in unemployment seems to be a boundary of sorts, both financially and psychologically. Elizabeth Warren proposed six-months as the “worst case” for financial planning in what she calls a “Financial Fire Drill.” Should that have been one year?
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