The Language of Real Estate
Real estate might sound like a dream job when I talk about making $15,000 in a month without any prior experience or a college degree, but grinding out rentals is a lot of work. You have to have the keys for hundreds of apartment buildings. You have to answer every request immediately or another broker will get to it first. You’re dealing with roommates and kids fresh out of college with little money to spend. And to top it off: no one wants to pay you. They think you’re a scumbag and you have to fight for every penny.
I was wrapping up a lease for one of my clients on a Sunday when my client, a girl who was about my age, came into my office with her mom, who wanted to see her daughter’s new apartment. Mom saw how young I was and that I was working on a Sunday in the middle of the summer. Then she told me that she had just backed out of buying an apartment because she didn’t like the broker, but that she would buy one with me. That led to my first sale: a co-op just off of Central Park West in the 70s. I leveraged that deal into my first few listings – all at the Cielo condominium – and suddenly I was 24 years old with 5 high-end sales in Manhattan under my belt, all within my first year in the business.
Along the way, I met a few guys who all worked at the same company. Those guys seemed like go-getters and I wanted to be around that energy. I met with the second-in-command at the company and I told him about how I had closed 5 sales in my first year. His eyes lit up when I said that, and he told me that he would love to have me.
Even though I had experience in the industry, I went to their new agent training. It was so good, that the next time he hired a batch of agents, I went to some of the classes for a second time. That manager taught me something that he called the language of real estate. I wasn’t allowed to say that the market is “hot” anymore. Instead, I was supposed to say that the market is “vibrant.” I wasn’t allowed to say “high-end kitchen” anymore. Instead, I had to learn the differences between Gaggenau and Miele appliances, and I had to be able to make the distinction on the spot. I even had to learn how the different types of Italian marble would feel against my skin. That training was invaluable for me because I didn’t even know what herringbone flooring was until then. And because of that training, I make sure to hit up dictionary.com for words that I’ve never used before when I’m posting a new listing or showing a new property.
Real estate agents aren’t exactly known for their intelligence, but I’ve always prided myself on taking a smart approach to real estate. This training reinforced my belief in something that I consider the most important thing for luxury brokers to keep in mind: that our clients are the smartest and most successful people in the world. Any time that I needed to explain something to a client, I was supposed to e-mail them an article from Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, or some other well-known source that backed up what I had told them. “Make it like science so that they can’t argue with you.”
People are skeptical of salespeople, but they’re not skeptical if all that you do is help them. It’s no secret that Manhattan real estate is a good investment. Unlike those renters who didn’t want to pay me, buyers and sellers know that I’m worth every penny because I’m going to make them money. And the best way to sell something is to not have to sell it.