Saturday, April 14, 2018

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - The Broker

The Broker
Sometimes I think the job of being the broker in a real estate organization is directly proportionate in size and importance to the number of agents in his office when it comes to solving problems. An agent, for example will have a question, any sort of question or problem, he comes to the broker for advice. The broker of course has to know all the answers, based on the rules of the game, and advises accordingly. It’s pretty impressive; almost like a tribal chief.
But that only holds good in a very small brokerage. As the company grows and takes on more agents, a surprising phenomenon arises. Of course you have agents who are new to the business and then you have others who have been around for a while and joined our company for their own reasons.
Normally my advice was not overly encouraging, but it was fact based according to the rules set out by the board and/or the securities commission. I didn’t often get into moral issues since that was another subject entirely and I generally kept my own counsel.
It wasn’t long before I began to notice complaints crossing my desk over things happening against the advice I had given. What the . . . . ? Was I losing my mind or were the agents just not listening? It turns out they were listening alright, but just not to me. What they would do is go around the office describing their particular situation to various other agents, all of whom had different opinions, and then pick the one they liked best, and act on that one. That usually ended them up in the kind of difficulty I had predicted in the first place. Well, it did provide work for a broker to iron out all the wrinkles in a crumpled agent’s life.
As our company grew, so did the number of agents who were disgruntled with the owner of the company. Well, he was getting on a bit and they wanted to take the company in a new direction, so negotiations got under way and seven of them bought him out. Can you imagine seven owners of the sort I just described owning a company? It was sheer pandemonium.
I wasn’t part of the partnership, not that it wasn’t offered, but seeing that I was the broker and I was needed, that was good enough for me. I wasn’t going anywhere anyway so we were all more or less well satisfied. The first thing the new company did was take on the Sutton Group franchise which was probably the best thing that ever happened. No, that’s not true. The best thing they ever did was to hire Roberta as office manager. She came to us in an opportunity resulting from mismanagement of a local Remax office. Well, their loss, our gain.
The partners meetings were loud and boisterous. There wasn’t a wall flower in the bunch. But with all the diverging opinions, it wasn’t long before the partners fell off one by one. It wasn’t so much the different opinions as it was the expense of the company. It wasn’t long before there were only two partners left. Nobody left the company but five of the partners just didn’t have the wherewithal to foot the bill. We were growing into a family of sorts.
One of the partners decided that he should become a broker so that we could open a second office as per his agreement with the franchisor. These were rather uncertain and tough times for the company, what with meeting the daily bills, looking for a new office, recruiting new agents and so on.
I was involved in very little of this except as an outside observer, just doing my job as a broker and taking in all the machinations of the company. I’m going to tell you that once Roberta got her hand on the tiller, it wasn’t long before the company started moving forward. Of course there were discussions, disagreements, insults and threats, but she prevailed and slowly it all came together. I have to say I understood all these things and Roberta’s approach to them. I have two daughters who have exactly the same personality, whom I admire tremendously too, but I wouldn’t want to be caught in their crosshairs.
Finally we got another office at the opposite end of town which I was the broker at while Blaine presided over the original office. They sent me about fifteen agents and a sweetheart of an administrator with a part time assistant. It was quite a set up. Every once in a while Blaine would drop in to see how things were going and we’d have a good chin wag.
One day he showed up at our office and was talking to the girls when the assistant administrator complained to him about my wanting things done. She wanted him to speak to me about this attitude of mine. In other words, who did I think I was being so demanding?
Well Blaine, in his inimitable laid back style only chuckled, saying that she must realize that I was the boss (broker) here and could easily fire her if her work wasn’t up to snuff. Apparently her eyes widened somewhat and she busied herself doing what I had asked in the first place. Nothing more was said. I only mention that last bit as a point of amusement in the many adventures we had together, especially at the North Kildonan office.
I still go in once a year to look in on my real estate family, pretending to be on inspection. Judging by the hugs I get, I think I am well remembered and am still part of the family. I guess I had a good time working there.

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