Monday, February 06, 2006

Lilly the llama

Some folks think selling real estate is a glamorous business. From the outside looking in it appears so. It’s easy to imagine that we agents spend all our time driving the rich and famous around the county in our expensive late model SUVs, showing designer million dollar homes and taking wheel barrels full of cash to the bank. That isn’t exactly correct for most of us.

The most recent survey by the National Association of Realtors found that the average full time agent earns about $60,000 a year working 60 hours a week. Out of that the agent will pay all of their own taxes, social security, business expenses, health insurance and retirement planning. In California the money is better but the expenses higher and there are too many agents chasing too few deals.

In California there are 150,000 agents selling 600,000 homes for an average of 4 yearly sales each. The El Dorado Country Board of Realtors has about 1,200 Realtor members and reported 2,800 homes sold in the county last year. Assuming no agents from Sacramento or Placer County sold any real estate in the county, the average is less than 3 home sales for every Board member. This probably explains why according to the Department of Real Estate half of all new agents don’t renew their license after their first four years in business.

For most agents the money is just average and this business isn’t all that glamorous either. Yesterday I started work before sunrise, in front of my computer, trying to find another property to fit into my already scheduled showings. I had spent most of the week previewing homes for a couple from San Jose who thought they wanted to raise grapes, horses and kids in the county. Since “their valuable time” was limited, I had previewed and set up appointments for nearly a dozen homes. By 9 they had called to cancel. It was raining and they didn’t want to get wet. Maybe they would wait until spring when the weather was nicer. “No problem” I said, while chocking the phone. I spent the next hour canceling my scheduled appointments.

The day wasn’t wasted however. Smelly Mel, who operates a septic tank pumping service (I am not making this up) called about 10 to say that he could pump and inspect the septic system on a small ranch I had in escrow. The owner was working in Sacramento and I needed to let Mel in and out of the locked gate. There were a few horses, goats and a llama by the name of Lilly running loose around the fenced acreage. It took us an hour to find and pump the septic but it took another hour to catch the goat that had escaped when his pumper truck pulled through the gate. Did I mention it was raining?

While rounding-up a wet goat, my cell phone rang. It was Reid with Bug Biz who owns a Termite Company. He had a cancellation and wanted to do a pre-listing Pest Inspection on an Old Victorian in Placerville. We spent two hours climbing over and crawling under this 100 year old grand lady with a drainage problem. In the process, we found a few bats, a dead rat and several subterrain termites.

On the way back to my home office, I stopped off to check in with Charlie, a local builder who has a spec house under construction in Shingle Springs. Charlie was in a foul mood. The cement truck had arrived to pour the driveway but Charlie’s helper had not. Charlie was working franticly by himself to move and form six yards of cement into a driveway before the big storm. I found a pair of rubber boots and spent two hours helping Charlie who questioned me about smelling like a goat that had fallen into a septic tank.

Around seven o’clock I had finished dinner and was working on my second glass of an excellent El Dorado County Merlot. The wind was really blowing and I was thankful to be home, warm and dry after a frustrating day. The phone rang. When my phone rings during a storm it isn’t usually good news. It was my client with the horses, goats and Lilly the llama who was missing. She figured “Lilly” had escaped while Mel and I were going in and out of her property and thought I should be responsible for finding her. In my next life I think I will be an accountant.


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