Being a Sacramento Realtor multi-tasking at extreme levels is the typical environment for a successful real estate career. Yesterday, I was made aware that this skill set is something you either possess or you don’t. Realtors are often on the phone, (I have two phones) texting, emailing and putting the phone on mute, while answering questions from an assistant. We are also checking email and voice mail while organizing. I have a 40-inch monitor screen, so I have multiple windows open at the same time on my computer.
I’ve been yakking on the phone since I was old enough to drag around a Northwestern Bell dial telephone by its cord in one hand while sucking my thumb on the other. We didn’t have any pacifiers when I was growing up in the 1950s, and we had to substitute our own body parts.
Which brings me to a phone conversation I had several days ago when I made an emergency stop at a gas station somewhere in Citrus Heights. Apart from making a beeline to Nordstrom in Rocklin from my home in Land Park, about the only other place I drive is to seller’s homes to put them on the market. This means I fill up my car maybe once or twice a month. But I’ve been doing a lot more driving this week and noticed my gas gauge was dangerously low. My car tells me when I’m about to run out of fuel with a cute in-dash message about being mindful of how far I have left to drive. It’s so polite. Those Italians.
As I was climbing out of my car and grabbing my VISA card, my bluetooth began to jangle slightly with the sound of faraway chimes, like I’m standing on a hillside in Ireland listening to the wind blow across the burren. No ringy-dingy for me. I answer and it’s an agent calling about one of my listings. She wanted to know if my seller would entertain a lowball offer. Now, see, that’s being polite. That’s encouraging cooperation between agents. That’s not just emailing an insulting purchase offer out of the blue, it’s calling to discuss first. Professional.
I’m staring at the gas pump while I’m listening to the agent talk. This is why I don’t fill up my car at foreign gas stations away from Land Park. I prefer the familiar, like I imagine most people do. I saw three paragraphs of white text printed on the pump, explaining how to pump gas. WTH? My eyes frantically scanned the pump for something simple such as:
- insert card
- select grade
- pump gas
But it wasn’t there. I realized I could not comprehend the text nor attempt to read it while I was in the midst of an engrossing conversation about my listing. How can a Shell gas station make pumping gas so danged difficult? Well, perhaps it’s the same as any other gas station, and it wants my ZIP code. I inserted the card, pressed my 5-digit code into the keypad and selected the button for gas. Everything seemed OK, stuck the hose pump into my car and nothing happened when I pressed the lever. What?
Around the other side of the pump I spotted a younger guy sporting a 10-gallon hat filling up his pickup. I asked if there was some kind of trick, no, not the agent, I assured her. Now I was having 2 conversations and neither were productive. I grabbed my bag, locked the car and marched into the tiny Shell station office stuffed to the gills with bags of potato chips, beef jerky and Pepsi. What am I doing wrong at the pump? I asked the clerk, waving my VISA card at her.
Then I glanced at the card in my hand. It was my Health Saving Account VISA, which is a debit card. The buyer’s agent is still talking to me about her clients. We’re discussing the comparable sales. You know, I don’t really know what my sellers will do with that kind of purchase offer, I explain, but there is certainly one way to find out, and that’s to write the purchase offer. I don’t make decisions for my clients, and we need a place to start negotiations, and this spot might very well be it. It’s a sure rejection if you never write the purchase offer, what do you have to lose?
This story ends with the sellers and the agent’s buyers coming to an agreement a few days later and going into escrow. This is what happens when agents get out of the way and don’t let their own personal opinions shade a transaction but instead facilitate and represent their clients’ best interests.
And I’m sticking my Health Savings Account card into a different slot in my wallet, not to be confused with my regular VISA. Because you can’t buy gas with a Health Savings Account VISA. I also suspect that clerks who have to deal with the public really dislike customers yakking on their cell, but when you’re a Sacramento real estate agent, you never know when a buyer will call.