My dad changed professions in 1959. He got his real estate license and hired on with Woodbury Realtors in Manhattan Beach, California. Upon arriving for his first day, the boss dropped a loose leaf binder on his desk saying, “Here’s all the listings, the world is your oyster, go get ‘em!” On October 19th, 1969 I didn’t even get that much guidance. I’d received my license in the mail the day before, on Friday. It said I’d been licensed since Tuesday the 15th. As I sat at my desk that first Saturday morning, I indeed had the MLS book on my desk. A couple of the old guys came over to welcome me, one of them learning just that day that I was the boss’s son. Trust me, there was no special treatment.
I’d been ‘trained’ by his general manager at the main office/escrow division conference room with other newly-minted virgins. Outside of how to fill out the forms properly, cold calling FSBO’s was the only thing taught. I remember because at 18 whatever he said was like it came from the lost third tablet of Moses. The training lasted three Saturday mornings. And I’ll remind you here that back then the purchase contract was one page, fill in the blanks. The listing was one page 5 X 7 and double sided. The measurements for the house were on one side and the contract, in very small print, on the other.
So back to the first morning, a Saturday, and I dutifully got the newspaper out and starting calling FSBO’s. I was very confident because of my extensive training. You see, Wally, the general manager had shown us national figures clearly indicating that if you called 21 FSBO’s you’d get three appointments, and from those you’d get a listing. Simple. So I made some appointments, and sure enough in my first six hours on the job on my first day I got a listing. Of course its value to the company was in cleaning up spilled coffee. Nevertheless, I got it.
I was part time while in college, but by the time I was 25 I still hadn’t received any mentoring of value. I had to go somewhere else to get it.
In defense of Dad, making a living out of listing FSBO’s was not only possible back then, but predictable if you were good. On any given weekend day in the paper you couldn’t call all of them from sunrise to sunset if you never left the phone. It’s all he knew. Don’t knock him though, because in the ’60′s he averaged over $400,000/yr in income. He had six offices, his own escrow company, and refused to cooperate with anybody. Yeah, his company double-ended every listing they ever sold. But that’s a story for another time.
I ended up switching from residential to investment sales as my wife said at the time that if I didn’t get out of selling houses I’d end up on the 11 o’clock news. And she was right. I also spent thousands in the late ’70′s and early ’80′s buying great mentoring from highly successful investment agents. Sadly, it wasn’t until past 30 that I finally felt like I knew what the hell I was doing.
If the agents reading this are honest, I bet most of them look back at their training and realize they learned how to keep their broker out of trouble, and that was basically it. Oh sure, they also learned about their ‘sphere of influence’ and how to exploit it. How’d that work for you? How’d all those open houses you held for the real producers work? And don’t forget the incredible ads you wrote to attract the buyers who’d be so loyal to you. Really kick-started your career, didn’t they?
Fast forward to November of 2004. My son has just passed his real estate license test, and is looking to me for guidance. I was, to put it mildly, determined to be the best mentor I could possibly be.
Next – the third generation.