Are Jobs in Sailing And Real Estate Both 24 Hours A Day?

Why is it so difficult at times for buyer’s agents and new home sales agents to get on the same page? We all share a common goal, to help someone find their dream home. Doesn’t that makes us on the same team? Yet at times it’s like we are in two completely different professions.

As an Online Sales Consultant for a new homes builder I deal with many different people all over the world on a daily basis who are searching for homes. I help individuals and I assist their agents. Since I provide information on all 14 of our communities, I try to provide the best and quickest responses I can to all inquiries.

That’s not always easy. And it’s even more difficult when so-called real estate professionals behave less than professionally. In our current economic condition, you’d have to live under a rock not to know that the home building industry is one of the major players taking a hit. Building companies have gone under and merged left and right. Those that haven’t disappeared or become absorbed, most likely have suffered severe downsizing to weather the storm. That is our current situation. In the past each of our new home sites were manned by 2 agents, but now we have 2-3 sites per agent. With less agents there are far more fires to contend with per person.

My timing was impeccable. I joined the real estate industry just at the beginning of the downturn. Before that, I was blissfully sailing and diving in warmer climates. The only fires I worried about were REAL fires. The three scariest occurrences on a boat, are fires, sinking and man overboard. (No man falls overboard in calm seas and sunny blue skies) Working on a boat was a 24 hour affair. I worked watch rotations, 4 hours on, 4 hours off or other variations and even when I slept I was still attached to the boat. When I wasn’t “working” I was still surrounded by the people with whom I worked. There is no private life on a boat, very few people are able to maintain relationships let alone families.

I thought when I left boats things would change…

Now I find myself on land. I awake in the morning, work out, and have a cup of green tea. The first thing I do is check my work email. I answer emails while eating my breakfast and then go to work… then answer more. I walk out the door at work, and when I get home the first thing I do is log on and see if I have more emails. I never quite turn off my job until I go to bed at night.

Sailing taught me a strong work ethic, one I’ve carried through my current existence. I’m available 7 days a week until 11 at night via email. But not by phone. I only have office numbers which are listed on the website and those are limited to office hours. Recently I had a real estate agent complain that our site agents, and myself, are not always available by phone all the time. This so-called professional, told me that he answers his phone at all hours unless he’s in the shower….unless he’s in the shower? I hope he’s not answering while he’s on the toilet!

An agent like this does not respect his own time, and in turn does not respect our time. Many real estate agents do not set boundaries and expectations. New Homes agents do have set hours, and always work beyond them to some degree. Our agents take appointments outside of site hours all the time with in reason. It is a constant balancing act of family and work. We are not always going to be available by phone. And everything does not need immediate attention. That’s just a fact. Most people shopping for houses don’t work 24 hours a day, so why should the expectation be set that we should? And why is it set up by the buyer’s agent?

At times I feel like we are at war with the buyer’s agents. Some constantly act as if we do not work hard. With my current work schedule, I’m traveling from community to community. I have messages left on several phones with the best way to reach me for quick answers, my email address. Yet I get nasty messages like the one I found yesterday. A buyer’s agent accused me of not wanting to sell a house since we had such limited site hours. His voice dripped in condescension as he said,”Maybe when you decide to work on weekends you might make some sales. ” Then he continued on with more complaints and insults. It was not just what he said, but the tone that caused me to snap.

I could not hold back. (Well I did hold back, but I did not ignore his rant nor did I apologize) I called him back, and very politely explained that I was the internet sales consultant working at that particular community 2 days a week, another community 2 days a week and the office one day a week however I was available 7 days a week via email to set an appointment for him. And I reminded him that all of this information was on the voice mail. I politely reminded him that he preferred to berate me rather than use another form of contact to set an appointment. I called shame on him, saying, “In this current economic climate all builders have been hit hard and we are highly understaffed. If you had contacted me through any of the numerous means left on the voice message I could have set you an appointment on the weekend.” I proceeded by saying, “There is no need for you to leave a rude message, you spoke your peace and now I’ve spoken mine.” I would not have done this to a client, but I feel that as a real estate agent going through his own struggles in the industry, he needed a reality check.

The truth is, the builder is running lean staffed. Everyone works multiple jobs within the company above and beyond their call of duty. But there couldn’t be a more dedicated bunch of people keeping my builder floating.

Contrary to the less than professional voice mail I received, we do want to sell homes, and we do sell them on a regular basis each week. Most people understand the situation that has been dealt to us and work within those parameters. And I think it should be apparent to anyone who visits our sites that the last few employees standing have heart and believe in the communities, the homes and the company. We take the insults and the rude agents in stride because we know we are lucky to be one of the builders still standing.

But sometimes you need to make sure the professionals are all on the same team.