Photo-Illustration: Edited; Photos: Getty Images, Shutterstock
In this bi-weekly series, “Realtor Diaries” More than ever, we hear from people in the middle of the desert market. Today, an hour-by-hour glimpse into the world of work Tori Atwell59, a power broker in the San Jose area.
8:30 am I’m not an early bird, what can I say?
Last night, I made a promise to myself to wait an hour or so before checking my emails in the morning to spend quality time with my pets. I have many. Two pot pigs, four cats, five small dogs – the largest is 20 pounds, but that’s only because he’s fat. I feed and pet everyone, and of course I break my promise now and delve into my emails.
By 9am I’m sure, I have about 100 to go through. When you’re a Realtor, you’re hearing from everyone, from lenders to buyers to attorneys to sellers – everyone wants to hear from you. Also, I was born and raised here. I know many people.
11 I do all my duties first. Go to the post office, fill a sign box with brochures, make a drive to a customer. Customers ask us to check roads for them before they have trouble seeing. I listen to the Murder Mystery podcast while driving. At this point I’m pretty much ready to kill a client. I know all the tricks.
I go to office at 12:00. Another 50 emails. Not a single day. All you need to know about San Jose is that it’s basically a collection of small towns all clustered together. And they are all incredibly different. Some are luxurious; Some are dangerous. Some are funky and historic – Japantown, Nagley Park. But for the most part, San Jose is a mass urban sprawl, sprawling houses and strip malls, kind of boring. Also, people don’t move to San Jose because they want to go to San Jose.
I’m currently working a lot in Almaden Valley, which is a very sought-after “executive” community. It has lots of big beautiful homes, great schools and big lots. Homes average 5 or 6 million there.
I’m also doing a lot in the charming, small town of Willow Glen. The houses were built in the 20s and 30s – many bungalows, small craftsman. All the millennials with their baby carriages are here now. In my day we called them yuppies. They send their children to private schools; They like to go to town and they like to be beautiful.
A realtor friend called me at 1 p.m. Realtors in this area are gossipy. We talk about the press that the market in San Jose has been getting recently; An article claims the largest decline in home prices in the United States. In fact, maybe 70 percent of the city is not good. But not Almaden Valley or Willow Glen. About 70 percent of San Jose is urban sprawl. And that’s because people don’t want to move there in the first place. That said, even in Almaden Valley and Willow Glen, houses aren’t moving as fast, or as they were a year ago, when people were asking $200,000, all cash.
2:00 PM I’m showing a large, beautiful Craftsman home to a family of four. It is for 2.5. They want Willow Glen, even though their capacity is just under 2 million, so they say they want to see it anyway. I am a very direct person and I tell them that they will not find the neighborhood they want for less than 2 million. I wish it were different but this is the reality. Not sure if they like it anyway.
We look at another house, more of a bungalow type, that already has an inspection report. The electrical report “reverse polarity” sounds bad, but in fact it is nothing – it means that the “hot” and neutral wires are switched. The worst cases are roof problems or black mold. And the fungus you always see. Especially in foster homes.
My clients are going to think about this. All realtors say this, but buyers are like sheep. When everyone is shopping, you want to shop. When everyone pulls back, they pull back. Now, with interest rates, customers are pulling back. But it’s stupid to me. Last year at this time there was no way to enter the market; You have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in excess. Now – at least in San Jose – you can find a home at the right price. Now is the time to buy! But all I can do is give my advice.
At 3pm we met with an engineer client. They are very challenging to work with because they are hyper-analytical. Most of them work for Facebook, Google; Take your pick. A hardcore engineer I worked with for 20 years said to me, “The market is going to crash!” which goes on and on. Because he has worked out an algorithm that indicates this. I’m not kidding – 20 years without pulling the trigger. Like, “Dude, it doesn’t work like that. He already missed the boat!” Anyway, after discussing the market and numbers and math for half an hour This Engineer Customer, I have to go to other things. I tell him, “You need to stop obsessing over math. It’s simple. Do you like the house? Because whoever loves the house will get it.
I am very straightforward. I’m the only one. If you don’t like me, don’t work with me.
At 4pm a client who wants to show their house, even though I’m the listing agent, emails me the person who speaks directly to them and looks shady in the area.
Now, I know a lot of classy, honest, good realtors in the area. But unfortunately, San Jose is known for having a lot of dirty agents. Really rubbish. They specialize in flips – like buying distressed properties, then doing makeovers, then reselling them. Often the work is of poor quality, and real issues (electrical problems, pest damage, drainage, structural materials) are covered up or not addressed. I had a list like this a few years ago – it was pretty cool, but when we did an inspection, we found more and more problems. It was a retrograde addition with no foundation.
The only good bad agent is the kind who don’t know how to sell a house – either because they’re inexperienced or they just don’t care. They don’t do open houses. They don’t do marketing. The result is less interest in the property – which means my buyers can come in and sign a contract. As there is no other interest, the sellers will take it.
Anyway, I tell my client not to arrest him. Maybe it will go.
I am ready to leave the office at 5 o’clock. It’s a new office for me. I was with a local company for many years. Then Compass bought them, but we stayed in the same place. The Compass culture wasn’t right for me. Very corporate. So I moved to the agency. I found out after joining that it is owned by a famous reality star. But I obviously didn’t join for that reason.
I come home to my pets at 6pm. I hugged them, and had dinner.
7 pm I enjoy doing something mindless at night, especially if I’m feeling moronic that day.
I have escrows going at 8:30pm, so I’ll check my emails and respond to specific issues.
9:30 pm I try to limit my anxiety at night. I am a sleepwalker. I fell asleep once and got into my underwear to look for a file. I fell down the basement stairs once when I was sleepwalking because I thought I was showing houses to buyers. So yes, I try not to think about work before I go to sleep. Like I love what I do.