Life With Wee People: The Work Chronicles
My kids love to play musical beds. They rarely sleep where you leave them and frequently wake up to change clothes to suit their color mood. Needless to say, laundry is a never ending issue in my household and to complicate matters they like playing with the laundry bags (sometimes mixing the clean clothes with the dirty to drive me crazy - LOL).
In the wee hours of the morning I love watching them sleep while I get comfy and answer some e-mail. I am about to answer some e-mail in public right now. Might even rant a bit. Seems I've been overdue for one of those but I digress (LOL).
The wee people and I usually get up very early to have breakfast while watching cartoons, chase brokerage keys, hit school for the drop off, show houses, hit school for the pick up, show more houses, have a foodie playdate, do homework/arts/crafts then have dinner...
I usually show from 9 AM to 1:30PM and from 4PM to 7PM. I have shown homes at 5:30 AM because some of my clients had to be to work at 7. My schedule has run through 9 tours of duty covering 24 hours of showings depending upon what I am able to negotiate access to and the work schedules of my clients. My office is open from 10 AM to 8 PM, but I am very flexible and work outside the posted hours. It is a delicate balancing act because I am locked into my kids school schedules. What I am is very flexible. What I am not is stupid...
If you do not know what my life is like as a work at home mother it is stupid of you to assume you get to make the rules regarding what I should and should not be doing to accommodate the people in my life, whether friend, family, customer or client. I have been hanging out in this forum for almost two years and am still amazed at the people who can't refrain from diving in and calling another practitioner unprofessional because their business plan or personality does not match their perception of what it means to be a Realtor or a professional.
Some people dive to answer their phones. I don't. I have a life and wee people to enjoy. I've been turning my phones off at 8 PM because my office is closed and it's family time. Kids need their bath and cuddles, I need my Mafia Wars, Netflix and Amazon Unbox (among other things - LOL). I've been working upstate on the weekends and not been in the city for whim calls, so stop freaking out if you don't get me because I am out of cell phone range. I have multiple schedules and deadlines, which is why I make appointments for the week. Sometimes I'm booked two weeks at a time. If you break your scheduled appointment it does not obligate me to move another client's appointment to make you happy. After all, my 140 miles should not be squandered. My upstate and out of state time, tolls, gas and clients matter just as much as my New York City clients so whim calling brokers to engage in verbal abuse if we don't immediately answer or meet you at an impromptu open house because we are servicing another person's needs makes me sigh and go, "Hmm..."
You are not the only person in the world trying to buy a home. Stop acting like that. If you can't act better than my learning disabled three year old on a bad paint day then you need to withdraw and find someone desperate enough to put up with your crap. Did I mention that I am not a desperate broker? I am an anal rententive Real Estate Paralegal who happens to blog, oil paint, make music and be a very good Realtor. I don't hoop jump. I negotiate business transactions and create works of art.
If you think you are going to call me as a substitute while your main broker is busy and you want to see something behind his/her/their back I am not the broker for you. If you are making multiple brokers jump through hoops and think I would like to join your herd I am not the broker for you. I work with people who want to work with me who are reasonable. I am not here for everyone, but I can be here for someone and my time is very valuable to me. It is something that can not be replaced so I do the very best for my clients that I can because I have to maximize my efficiencies. I am not in the habit of wasting time. I have a bucket list. Me and the shorties are having a lot of fun crossing stuff off of it between working for clients.
There is a process to becoming a customer and then client so get the "beck and call" metality out of your mind. Retaining a professional requires paperwork to be prepared, a meeting of the minds to take place and contracts to be signed. My answering a question does not mean I am automatically your representative. We both have to agree to having a business relationship. I am busy just like you are so leave a single message and not several dead air hang ups hoping I will redial your number out of curiosity if you are trying to obtain info or representation. I don't respond to dead air hang ups, do not call strange numbers with no messages attached and habitually delete them off of my telephones.
That is not mean. That is just common sense. I am not interested in capturing random numbers from people who can't leave a business message. I am a busy gal with several major projects in the works and do not always click through when I am talking to a friend/family/customer/client because (a) each conversation and project is important to me, (b) both of our time is precious and (c) if I don't know what you want because you can't be so bothered to tell me why you called - why would I bother to call back blind and uninformed? Who do you expect me to ask for? I don't know who you are. You didn't leave a message...
Real Estate is not the only thing that I do and I can not always stop what I am doing to jump through a ringing phone / e-mail hoop. I do not just schedule work, I also schedule study, research and play time. Sometimes the work/play projects involve my kids. We like to work and we love to play. They like feeling useful so I go out of my way to keep them busy and involved with my activities. They love to help out on my projects and see viewing homes as the ultimate form of socialization where they get to peek into other people's lives to see how the other half chills.
Most sellers and tenants are nice. They usually offer refreshments. My kids rarely say no to cookies and milk and come to think of neither do I (LOL). If I am chatting away with the listing broker, the seller and my buyer or we are having snack time with them I am not going to answer my phone. I'm trying to negotiate and/or gather useful information. If I am driving I am not going to answer my phone. It's a steep fine in NYC to do so. If I am in training my phone is off. If I am in class my phone is off. If I am in a house of worship my phone is off. If I am having sex my phone is off. My point being why my phone is off doesn't really matter, just know that I am otherwise engaged and please leave a message if you want me to call you because I will eventually get back to you (unless it is something I ought not to respond to).
I get hundreds of e-mails across eight accounts every day and it takes a while for me to sort and read through them all. Blogging means people talk on and off forum about anything and everything. I may eventually e-mail you back or make the call, but there will be times I simply will not answer. It's better that way. I can't make you all happy and would never be arrogant enough to presume to try. I don't encourage toxic relationships and find silence is golden when you want to avoid digital and real world strife. I pick my battles and frequently disengage from conversations that do not benefit anyone.
This conversation may benefit someone (or not) because I was stewing over a comment someone recently left me that I didn't answer until this morning. I realized I ought not to be commenting when I am really pissed off, so I logged off my e-mail account and took a drive to run some errands. I think sometimes if you have something you want to explain the comments section on a post you enjoyed writing may not be the best place to explain it if you think you are geared to launch an argument. A new post would create a better spot to have this conversation so the other post doesn't get ruined with arguments that ought not to be there. Thus, me answering my e-mail over here and me explaining something about how I work with my kids:
My schedule revolves around my kids.
I show with and without them.
I decide when they come out and when they stay in.
I will not accept a client or customer who will not accept the fact that my kids may be in tow from time to time. It is stated up front and I am very blunt about it. If my kids can't come then I am not the broker for you. I will not apologize for being inflexible about this non-negotiable fact. I will very happily withdraw and decline any business relationship that seeks to bar their presence. I do not take them with me all the time but I do take them out a lot. We have remained quite friendly with several sellers who were never my clients as well as the people that I do and have represented. My kids see exploring homes as an adventure and I can't imagine denying them the pleasure of discovering friendly people. They are particularly fond of our Localism adventures and will wake me up to take them on a road trip. Just because I haven't been blogging about them doesn't mean they are not going on. I share a lot but I don't tell you everything (LOL).
My kids really do love real estate and sometimes act as if I have magical keys because we frequently argue about my inability to get them into some of the listings of their choice. If they happen to see a sign in a yard to a home they find very interesting they want access. Instant access. It has lead to some very interesting conversations (and a few awkward moments) because there is boldness in their curiosity and the wee people know how to knock on doors and ring bells (LOL). If they really like a yard we snap a photograph for their collection and I snap a cell shot and send them to my clients to see if any of them like the outside. The first person to text okay gets the shorties in because I'll make the appointment for the client and bring them along (LOL). Yes, we sold a home in Hempstead that way last year. Kids saw it first. Got the client in second. two hours later we had a binder accepted. They were on hand for the appraisal, watching cartoons and munching on cookies in the kitchen. I didn't let them near the inspection. They like ladders (LOL).
I don't just do computer searches for the people I represent, I hang out and scope properties in the streets because people who buy houses want to know where the shopping is, the post office, the cleaners, the schools, the houses of worship, the hotels/motels, police, fire, public transportation routes and a host of other little details that make a neighborhood a place where they would want to live. That's why I like jogging all over the place. It's gets me up close and personal with a place. It's also why I like concentrating on the neighborhoods where we spend a lot of time. I take the kids on community walks because the schools they attended did the same thing. I let them play TomTom and enjoy the fact that they know which way to turn to get to places they enjoy.
Sometimes, while driving about, when my kids really like a house and tell me to go there I will call the listing agent and explain to them that I am a buyer's broker and I would like to do a buyer's open at their property on specific dates where I invite all of my pre-approved buyers to meet me at particular listings during specific times to view a privately e-mailed list containing an exclusive tour of homes. My buyers will pick and choose which homes to see off of that list and will meet me on the private tour at the designated times to see only the homes that interest them. That is so much more fun that an open house and the listing brokers I work with love me because I bring them foot traffic and excite their sellers. It is fast. It is efficient. My kids see familiar faces and have playdates with the kids of my buyers at these sellers homes. 40 minutes for each house (30 on location 10 to get to the next one in the neighborhood). I hang out and listen to my buyers, find out what they liked and disliked and we plan our next buyers open. We don't do the five minute visit like the popping in and out at the seller's open. We take our time and really consider a home, asking a lot of questions and trying to imagine what it would be like living there. If my buyer doesn't like a house I want to know why so I don't show what they really dislike. I start grouping them. Center hall colonial buyers are not invited to the hi-ranch opens, detached buyers don't attend the semi-detached house list, etc.
People who think my kids are not involved have no idea just how much they really are. They are speech delayed, so when something interests them and gets them chattering I am all for it and spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make the schedule work. Real estate makes them talk. Construction sites makes them talk. Photography and video makes them talk. Music and art makes them talk. AR Road Trips makes them talk. So does Facebook and YouTube.
My kids come first in all things. I will never stop taking them to work and exposing them to real life work ethics. They think they can do anything because I encourage them to try and frequently let them. They are hands on, visual learners. Audio doesn't dominate their thinking patterns so having the kids along at my gallery shows and property showings means a lot to me. We're sharing what interests us and they can get hands on with the projects. Anyone who has a problem with them being by my side needs to ignore me and find someone who suits their temperament to associate with. I am not the broker for you and I have no problem not being your broker if you can not comes to grips with that fact.
I have a lot of fun at work.
I am not giving that up.
I will dump the entire real estate industry with a smile on my face before I dump my kids. I gave up being a law enforcement officer so I could stay home and keep my son Noah safe, cart him off to speech and occupational therapy and juggle a host of tutors. I wouldn't even blink or think twice about it if I decided real estate was wasting my time or interfering with Stephen and Noah. That is the type of work at home mother I am but you don't know that I walked away from being promoted to Captain for a kid do you? How could you? You don't know me. I am not money driven, I am family driven which is why being a buyer's broker is fun for me. When I do a good job my buyers save money because a buyer's broker lowers the price, unlike a seller's listing broker who is obligated to get as much money as they can for their client. I have a pension and other jobs so negotiating a price reduction doesn't phase me. I am not a sub agent of the seller. I represent the buyer. That is why I get cranky when listing brokers talk crap about kids at work being unprofessional. I have never once pretended to be something that I was not in this forum or any other social media account that I own. Having children around does not make a work at home professional unprofessional. My kids have their own following and bring business to me.
It's amazing how people who are not supposed to discriminate against a buyer/renter because of family status would do so against a business owner who works with her family by her side. Being a Realtor means I can keep my kids safe with me and not worry about them while I work. It means I can have fun watching them help host a buyer or seller open house. It means I can treat them like people and teach them a trade.
So what if I bring my kids to work. It doesn't make me less of a Realtor for doing so. It's made me better.
If you read my blog you already I know don't take crap from anyone. I didn't take it from the inmates and I am certainly not going to take it from a reader, prospect, customer, client or another Realtor. Seriously...
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