28 Taking Care of Business

The he-Shell and the she-Shell were unusually quiet. R.M. had grown accustomed to their many questions peppered liberally throughout their previous discussions. They were looking out the windows from his single party listing, a repeat viewing. People at property showings tended to spend a lot of time looking out the windows when they should be mostly looking at the unit, especially on a second visit.

“Guess I really want something facing the other way.” The he-Shell spoke first. Chapter 28 Taking Care of Business “Given our work schedules, we’re more likely to have a little more time at home in the morning than in the evening. If it’s mostly late when we get home, we don’t care about the light outside or the view. But it would be nice to have some morning sunshine.”

“Let’s go back up to the solarium and take another look, then, keeping in mind that it’s a cloudy day, and there’s no balcony,” R.M suggested. The solarium offered views in several directions, including towards the lake.  “Lake views will cost you relatively more, you understand, on any floor. We’ll go back out on the terrace before we leave.”

Walking into the solarium and looking east, Michelle quickly decided. “Yes, this is definitely more like it! Can you show us any units on this side?”

“None listed at present. That will likely change. Now that you’ve seen a few units and developments, let me ask you something. It’s an old saw in the sales business called a trial close, testing to see if someone will buy something, and of course you’re not ready, not yet. But I’ve found that it’s useful and I’ll tell you why. But first let me ask the question. It goes like this. ‘If you had to buy a unit today, which one would you choose?'”

“This one, if it were a unit, and not a solarium. Right, Shel?” The he-Shell gulped and nodded.

“When I ask this, it’s not to pressure you to make up your mind but because, especially in the case of couples, it’s good to find out where they agree and disagree. As they each think and decide what matters and what doesn’t, I ask them to keep me in the loop. If they don’t do that… ” Michelle finished the sentence.

“…then you can’t show them what they really want. Well, we really do like this building. But I guess it never really became clear ’til just now that I want a home filled with morning light, or that that could even be important. And we do agree on that, right Shel, even if it costs more?” Shel gulped and nodded, again.

Rooftop view east to Lake Michigan

16th floor downtown Milwaukee condo view to Lake Michigan

“Then, while we are here, let’s go back into the unit on the ‘wrong’ side, and look at some of the other similar features, the floor plan, the space, and see if anything else comes to mind. Honestly, I’ve seen pairs get into squabbles about the color of the grout in the bathroom.” Later, as R.M. was showing them out of the building, he saw that Mrs. James was still there in the lobby.

“Any luck?” she smiled. “Or am I not supposed to ask that?”

“Well, I’m certainly not supposed to tell, Mrs. James. We are making headway. They like the building, very much.”

“That’s nice to hear, anyway. Our collective confidence is a little shattered at present. Speaking of confidence, your work must be very trying. I mean, you show people places that you think they might like, always assuming they bother to turn up. If they don’t like those places, how do you handle that, personally and professionally?”

“We’ve just been discussing that very thing. You have to find out over time what they do like. Sometimes they aren’t sure themselves. Once in a great while, some-one will say, ‘This is fine. I just need a place to live.’  You and your husband were towards that end of the spectrum. More often than not it takes longer. It’s a bit like detective work, circling, getting closer to the truth, eliminating from consideration what doesn’t belong. And there is a lot to see, at least to begin with, most of the time.”

“You must be a patient man, then. I assume that you must be doing this same thing with several customers, all at the same time. How do you keep up with the market the way you do, for different buyers?”

“You flatter me, Mrs. James. It’s what I’m supposed do. There are a few things that help me. As you know, I’ve seen many years in the wonderful world of real estate. So one, experience.” R.M. counted out points on his fingers. “I enjoy working with people, find them fascinating. Two, I make an effort to get along with colleagues. I especially enjoy the challenges of working out deals between buyers and sellers. Three, it’s an interesting business. Always something new to learn, from the work itself or through our continuing education classes. Four, applying the knowledge required to the wide range of situations that occur. The variety too, and that makes five. Experience, fascination, challenge, knowledge, and variety.”

“I see that you must have thought about your occupation long before my asking about it. How about in your other hand? What cards are you holding there?”

“A different suit there, Mrs. James, specific to the condo market. First, every month I track the pending and sold listings. I have a record of these statistics going back many years, so I can measure trends. Second, every day I watch the new listings or changes to existing listings so I know what’s available. Third, I have all the developments mapped so I know where everything’s located. More and more important to map as the number of developments grew. Fourth, I keep an updated inventory of developments, the basic information about each one. I can tell you, for example, the location of all of the developments in the Gold Coast, or right along Prospect, and which ones have pools. Fifth, since the beginning of the condo market, I’ve kept an archive of articles describing condos within each neighborhood. The shelf is groaning.”

“As a matter of fact, we’ve included you in a card game we’ve been making,” confessed Mrs. James. “Though it’s specific to just our association.” R.M. gave her a puzzled look. “It’s a game Earnest Arbuthnot is teaching us to play, called ‘Happy Families’. We’re using the names of residents, and their occupations, to create imaginary families for the playing cards, and you are included. Mr. R.M. The Realtor®Man!”