I passed my Oregon Real Estate Broker’s License Exam on Tuesday (9/20/2011) and am impatiently waiting for the State to complete the mandatory background check before my license is mailed to the brokerage I will be working for (Windermere Cronin and Caplan in Lloyd Center). When they tell me they have mailed my license, I can go to work.

I find myself hounding my landlord, who lives across the street, into telling me about his most recent meanderings through prospective houses and condos to purchase, fix, and rent out. Thank you Miro for being so patient and for telling me the details!

HGTV is on the television far too often and I haven’t toured a house for sale in months…besides OPEN HOUSES. I have people I want to go look for and people I’d love to talk to about their satisfaction level with their current homes. If they’re happy, I’ll encourage them to stay put. If they’re not satisfied, I’ll encourage them to interview Realtors to find the person who is the best fit for them.

As a real estate professional, I can tell you that making a living in Central California during one of its many pendulous swings in the really-really-not-so-pleasant direction was tough-going! We moved there and I knew no one. No one at all. So I had no “Sphere of Influence” to ring up and ask if they wanted to list their home/s for sale or inquire if they knew anyone who did want to list their house or buy a house. So, to generate business, I walked my neighborhood territory. And my approach was something I felt comfortable with, being the Pacific Northwesterner that I am…

Door-Knocking:   Some agents like to go door-knocking. Door-knocking is an activity during which agents walk door-to-door, knocking and asking if people want to list their homes for sale. I don’t feel comfortable doing this because I don’t like my door being knocked on…especially in the evening. UPS keeps trying to deliver packages to the people who used to live at our current address and the thunderous knocks by the 6′ 5″ tall, burly, delivery-person are startling enough.

Door-knocking is an activity that may have some level of acceptance in a different regional culture. And I assure you, Central California is a completely different regional culture than the Portland Area, but my guess is this strategy will not be effective here. People in the Portland Area are a private sort and they, like me, do not appreciate being disturbed by a stranger who wants them to move so she/he can sell their house.

However, when I lived in California, I did go door-to-door with flyers that I left on people’s doors that was a basic printout that had three homes that had recently sold in the neighborhood and one recent listing so they could see what homes in their neighborhood were selling and listing for. It was a mediocre strategy at best…for every 100 homes I left a flyer at, I received one phone call. I’m thinking I’m not going to do that here. It can create a paper mess and it uses too many trees.

Post-Card Mailing:   Some agents mail out post cards announcing their presence in selected neighborhoods in an effort to attract business. I could spend the $75-$100 to do this but it’s less effective than I would like because I don’t think what I have to say matters anywhere near as much as what the homeowners or prospective clients have to say. So I can pontificate about my wonderful attributes until the cows come home, via postcard or in person, but none of that really matters. Not really. Telling people about me doesn’t tell me what they need. The information they have to give me is so much more important than the information I have to give them about me. Besides, they can find everything they need to know about me on the Internet. I may do this once and gauge the result to see if it generates any response. If it does – great! If not, I won’t try it again.

Talking with my Sphere of Influence“:    I sure wish they’d change that phrase. It’s a standard real estate term that describes the people a person knows. That’s it. I don’t feel like I have any particular influence over the people I know so I think the term is rather out-dated. But it is what it is. Remember, I didn’t have a “Sphere of Influence” in California so having one here is a luxury. I like the idea of talking with people I have known for a long time to ask if they know anyone who may need my help. My friends know me and their testament about my ethics and hard work is the best advertisement I can get. Talking with people I know is definitely high on my list of ‘must dos.’

HoldingOPEN HOUSES“:    This is a great way to get to know the neighbors of the people who are selling their house and, if enough signs go up and an ad goes on Craigslist, is a great way to allow people to interview me. I plan to hold as many OPEN HOUSES as I can. I’ll bring cookies and may have coffee there so folks can come in and make themselves at home. OPEN HOUSES are a great way for me to spend time with people so they can get to know me and decide, for themselves, if I am a good fit for them. OPEN HOUSES are high on the ‘must do’ list.

I once had an OPEN HOUSE trainer tell me, “What matters is not what the people have to tell you. What matters is what YOU have to tell them.” I disagreed with that statement then and I disagree with it now. That same trainer also told me that if I didn’t ‘get the appointment’ during my first conversation with a person, I’d failed. An agent-client relationship takes time. I have the time to invest and I do not feel like I’ve failed if we do not have an appointment to go look at homes the very first time we talk.

Blogging/Tweeting/Tumblr-ing:   I’m a modern kind of agent and I believe in the power of the Internet to help us get where we want to go. I have profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Trulia, Realtor.com, Yelp, Tumblr, I have a professional Facebook page, a Google profile, and I have my own website www.amymunsey.com. If anyone wants to know about my hobbies, professional background, educational background, what I do for a living, and where I’d like my business to go, they can find all of this out pretty easily by simply Googling my name. The Internet is a great venue if you want to show people what you’re all about.

Attending Popular Events:   This is, perhaps, my favorite strategy. It isn’t so much a strategy as it is an excuse to visit the places and events I love so much – First Thursday downtown, Last Thursday on Alberta, Saturday Markets to buy from local vendors, neighborhood Street Fairs in the Summer, Octoberfests (because there are many), concerts, art fairs, the symphony, and participate in local events. This is at the top of the ‘must-do’ list.

There are agents (at other agencies, of course!) who choose more conventional methods to get the word out that they are in business, but I really believe the Internet offers a great opportunity to do this for a low price, in a way that does not invade people’s homes at dinner or inundate their mailboxes with junk mail they have to shred, that uses less trees, if any, and that enables agents to get a large amount of information out about themselves, as long as they do it right.

Agents are on their own when it comes to advertising. It can be expensive and it does seem that the more an agent spends, the more responses they can generate. But that initial investment may not pay for itself for a few months or even a year. So, for me, big and expensive advertising is not in the cards at this time.

In a few days, after my license is confirmed, I’ll be calling my friends, not in an inappropriate and persistent way, but in a genuine way to ask if they still want help finding their next home or if they’d like a free CMA (Competitive Market Analysis) to see what their house may sell for if they put it on the market. If they are comfortable in their current homes, I will encourage them to stay put. Seriously, there is no reason to sell a place they are perfectly happy in. I wouldn’t. Why ask others to do something I wouldn’t do?

I love everything about real estate:   Homes, architectural styles, neighborhoods, neighbors, parks, and the small local businesses that are such an integral part of neighborhoods. I find the people who own homes and who are looking for their next homes, fascinating. Their stories, no matter what they are, are important to me. If it is important to my clients, it is important to me. And I feel a deep sense of protection which drives my desire to do the best possible job for my clients, even if they have no idea what they want in the beginning. It’s okay to not know! “Embrace your picky-hood!” I tell my them. Because that is what I really hope someone would tell me.

I’m into fair: fair treatment, a fair deal, and respectfulness borne of the desire to be fairly treated.

That’s me. Look for updates on this blog, www.portlanddigs.wordpress.com, check out my website for updates at www.amymunsey.com, check out my Facebook page to see what’s going on at www.amymunsey.facebook.com, and I have profiles on other sites such as Trulia, Realtor.com, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Tumblr, Yelp, and more.