I remember taking my first real estate exam in the Scottish Rites Hall in San Francisco after religiously cramming every factoid I could, into my brain. I was a true believer. A supplicant vying for admission into the secret order of all things REAL. Walking out afterwards, I experienced a huge core dump as all the information I had memorized, spontaneously fled my body. I didn’t know it then, but that was my first auspicious real estate sign. I had to empty myself of everything I thought I knew and start practicing real estate each day in order to find its hidden grail.
Along the way, I’ve shown property at midnight, written offers on the hood of a car, gotten frantic buyers’ remorse calls at two am and once listed and sold a house in less than five hours. I’ve met looky-loos, nosey-neighbors and tire-kickers by the score. I’ve represented buyers who had to grind every last penny and others who had a million dollars burning holes in their pockets. I even saw a client try to bring cash in a suitcase to close escrow.
Along the way, I started carrying a box of tissues in the car for those convinced they could never afford a home in Santa Cruz. Later, I upgraded to an EpiPen when anaphylactic sticker shock became the norm. I earned a masters degree in grief counseling with a minor in hand-holding during the early 90s at the same time I learned what it meant to chase the market down.
I also learned how to find lost septic tanks by bending ordinary coat hangers into the shape of dowsing rods. I have occasionally employed a psychic house cleaner to clear away dustballs of bad energy that accrue in people’s lives. I also hired Crime Scene Cleaning Service once, when I sold a compulsive hoarder house filled with thirty years worth of rotting possessions.
Along the way, I’ve seen more Michael Jordan posters and more odd doll and scary clown collections than you can possibly imagine. I’ve shown houses where bongs were sitting on kitchen tables and naked college students were running around in blissful oblivion. I’ve run out of gas in the boonies with clients in the car and somewhere along the way I seem to also remember sitting an open house where a parrot with a huge vocabulary of swear words greeted each visitor.
I’ve worked with Tibetan Lamas and the other kind of llamas. I’ve worked with Fortune 500 execs, motorcycle club members and middle-aged sex therapists – all in the same day. I’ve sold ego homes wondering how people could wander around in that much space and homes under 500 sq ft wondering how people could possibly live without strangling each other after the first week.
Along the way, I’ve been called the Bodhisattva Realtor, a Male Midwife, a Consummate Professional and a Dirt Pimp. I was also once accused of breaching the Realtor Code of Ethics for suggesting that Realtors should carry a moral compass with them at all times.
Have I arrived? Nope. I’m still on the bus with the license plate that reads “Further” and yes, what a long strange trip it’s been. Strange and endlessly fascinating.