Mark Albert


No Agent - That's me

28 November 2018
Mark Albert

When last we delved into my secret agent past, I was enrolled in Floyd Wickman’s (His name just came to me and I know; he sounds like someone from Second City- right?) “Sweathog” programme.  At that time, some 30+ years ago, I really was somewhat of a secret agent.  No one really knew me.  At least not as a real estate agent. When no one really knows me and I have already contacted those I knew from, what my mentor called, my “wedding list” – what’s next?  Since my wedding was in Toronto and I was coming from Belleville to Kingston, my “wedding list” people were out of town. Next…contact people I don’t know.

The manner in which we find these, unknowing and unknown, patrons of our vocational services is- what is commonly recognized and dreaded by both sides of the experience- as COLD CALLS.  Telemarketing, you might say.

Here is what we are told. 

It is another typical day in the lives of our unsuspecting homeowners.  They have been sitting around the dining room table ruminating about the “for sale” signs that some of the homes in their neighbourhood have adorning their front lawns. “Gee, I wonder what our house is worth”, they might be saying.  Or, “Maybe it’s time for us to look at making a move.” 

Then, coincidentally, as if lightning knows just where and when to strike and turn on the light; we – the near-psychic, professional real estate sales representative – calls.  What are the chances?  Well, I don’t recall the ratio exactly, but I think it was something like 1 in 100.  We need to call 99 no thank you, or no #!!% you,angry, impatient, bothered, hang-up-the-phone people to get that one “qualified” prospect.  Am I telling secrets out of school? Yes. That’s the blogging point. Right?

The second, more reliable resource – FSBO’s (pronounced: Fiz-bows or as I, affectionately, call them “Fiz-boings” ) The acronym for “For Sale By Owner”.  These are often, we are told, expired listings (formerly listed MLS sellers) gone mad, in most senses of that word. Sometimes they just think*that they can save the commission and get more money.*(the truth about this in my next publication) What we know about these people is that theydowant to sell their home.  We discover them by noticing the handcrafted sign, leaning to the left, on their lawn or by the sparsely worded ad in the newspaper.  Often both of these fine pieces of marketing entrepreneurship include the by-line or text “No Agents, please!”. (Some won’t pay for the characters it takes to add the “please”).  Sometimes they include an “Open House” notice.

I opt for the FSBO route.  It will only hurt for a minute. I arm myself with all the paraphernalia including listing forms.  Oh…those listing forms, by the way, were carbon-copied at the time.  The Glengarry Glenross ABC (Always Be Closing) line that goes with them was- as you hand the prospective client the pen for the third time – “press hard, cheap carbon”.

I would tentatively approach a FSBO with the hand scratched “Open House” sign on his lawn and broad smile on his face.  Well, actually, that smile makes a quick-change transition to frown when he sees my file real estate folder and briefcase. My “Good Afternoon” is greeted with a rudimentary literary lesson.  “My sign/ad says ‘NO AGENTS’ ” are the accompanying words of my, now, less hospitable host.  I’ve been prepped for this. The truth will set you free.

I deliver, “Yes, sir; but I’m the closest person to No Agent that my  office has.” Like a rainbow at the end of a storm, that smile should reappear, at this point.  If it doesn’t, well, it could get ugly. Fortunately, I was able to see a few rainbows.

My first listing is from a FSBO advertised in the newspaper.  They live on the outskirts of Gananoque and have just sold their Campgound to a conglomerate competitor.  Now they want to sell their house, on the property immediately adjacent to that recently parted land. I meet with them and get the Sellers and their property all signed up.  We’re good to go. Newspaper advertising is relatively inexpensive in this town, in those days, so I take advantage of that medium. I advertise on the grocery store specials days- Wednesdays and Saturdays. I get a bite.  A young couple call me on my advertising.  They are renting in Gananoque and are interested in this “charming, older home”.  I pick them up and off we go down the highway to this home on the hill in the country. 

I knock on the doorpost; the doorbell looks broken.  “Hello” comes from inside the house as a dog is scampering to the door, loudly barking all the way. “Hello, it’s Mark”, I return. I am aware that the outside door was left open, with only the screen between me and their greeter, a large, charging and vocal German Sheppard.  Showing confidence as an agent, while establishing that I have a great rapport with the owner/seller,  I offer a knowing smile, dispensing with any thought of impending peril, to the prospective buyers and open the screen door.  The dog – who knows what its real name is, but “Cujo” sounds right- sinks its canines into my extended, offending leather jacket sheathed arm. Mr. and Mrs Buyer have grabbed my waist and are pulling me back to land of the free; while Mr. Seller has finally reached the door and is coaxing the dog to release its newfound doggy bone, my arm.  Though one could do a connect-the-dots from the indentation piercings on my arm; my pride had the bigger bite out of it. 

Why did you open the door when the dog was there”, inquired Mr. Seller. 

I thought you sent the dog to greet us”, I responded. 

And  then solving the mystery of this experience, Mr. Seller concluded, “Well, I didn’t.”

Wounded but restored to by my budding professionalism; I saw the experience through to the “sold” sign planted in the front yard.

As “sold” is the goaled; I’ll leave it here.