Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Real Estate Personality

A couple of months ago, I got an offer on a listing, and the fax cover from the other agent featured a cartoon of people begging on the street. Each one held a sign stating what he was desperate enough to do in order to show how needy he was. The last person's sign read: "Will work in real estate."

A lot of agents I know, including myself, didn't always plan to go into real estate. We set out on different career paths, but, due to changes in the economy and unforeseen life events, we chose to go in to real estate.

A couple of weeks ago, the assistant manager at my office found an interesting web site (similarminds.com) where you can take tests to determine your personality type. The 70-word Jung test is especially interesting. From there, you can read a description of your personality type at www.personalitypage.com, see a list of careers for your type, and also read about what sort of mate would work well with you.

Not too surprisingly, the other agents and I who have taken the test have generally found out that we should go into the career that we used to have! Hmm, I don’t think anyone’s personality type read “real estate agent.” But then maybe that’s because some careers are taboo, like “snake oil salesman.”

Most of my personality description read like one of my father, and the description of my ideal mate was my mother to a T. Very scary. In short, I’m an INFP or “questor,” also referred to as “The Idealist.” “High capacity for caring. Emotional face to the world. High sense of honor derived from internal values. 4.4% of the total population.” Is this what you expected to read about a real estate agent? Some of the career paths for me are “professor” and “writer” (been there, done both, nearly starved). Other careers are: counselor/social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, musician, clergy/religious worker.

INFPs aren’t obvious candidates for the world of real estate. We’re introverted, thinking types who write rather than talk. I’ve learned to hold a conversation by focusing on the person I’m talking to and listening a lot. The other person almost always has something fascinating to recount, and someday, when I have time, it will all go into a series of novels. So, you’re thinking, how do I get someone to buy or sell a house?

Well, actually, I don’t. If he or she really likes a house we go to, can buy it, and needs to, it will happen. If not, I can usually figure that out without losing a lot of time. If the person wants and needs to sell a property, I find out as much as I can about the current market around that property, show the owner the data, take photos, write a description, and let agents and buyers know about the place via the Web, newspapers, signs, magazines, door hangers, postcards, open house, and so on until the right buyer comes along.

So what do I do that’s so hard? I … agonize. I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about some detail that needs to be addressed. I call realtors, loan agents, and escrow officers, trying to resolve issues. I piece together the odds and ends of contracts, addendums, disclosures, and waivers to protect clients. When I have to, I dust, vacuum, mop, water plants, weed, and clean toilets (and these houses aren’t always vacant—the sellers just run out of time! And I was representing the buyers when I cleaned the toilets).

Luckily, since most of my clients have come to me via the website that my husband built, they have been very much like us. While my clients are all very different from each other in background and experience, they tend to 1) do research and plan ahead 2) have good credit 3) use email a lot. The last is a lifesaver for me because I can send them lengthy email messages letting them know what’s going on weekly and, if necessary, daily, even hourly. When it’s a really important issue, my clients and I are outgoing enough to call each other (this is extremely difficult for my husband’s personality—I still have to call restaurants to reserve a table because he can’t—he’s an INTP, which makes sense because he’s a physicist).

I’m probably not the right real estate agent for someone who needs to be told what to do and to be pushed into things. My husband and I always balk when someone tells us we need to buy something now. 9 times out of 10, I will walk away at that point, or if I do buy it, I’ll return it the next day. (My husband tends to read as much on the Web as possible on whatever it is that we’re thinking of buying before we go in and look at the item. Then he lets the salesperson talk and show us other makes and models before we buy what we intended to buy in the first place, that is, if it’s cheaper there than on the Web. If my husband is feeling charitable, he’ll correct the salesperson on a detail or two. When we get home, he’ll give me a rundown on all the technical mistakes the person made.)

I would probably have more transactions and make more money if I were pushier, but it wouldn’t feel right. And I guess I’m lucky because I make a reasonable living while being true to myself and working with clients I respect and enjoy emailing and talking to.

A quick look through the extroverted personality types show that these are the ones most likely to be sales representatives, particularly the ESTP type. Some of the traits are: “action oriented,” “live in the present moment,” “excellent people skills,” “attracted to adventure and risk.” This type “may be gamblers and spendthrifts” and “often has trouble in school, especially higher education.” “ESTPs have an uncanny ability to perceive people's attitudes and motivations,” and “use this ability to get what they want out of a situation.” Hmm, this sounds exactly like some of the salespeople I’ve met and have distrusted immediately…

So what is the “typical” real estate personality? Yesterday, I saw a sign nailed on a post that said “Real Estate Investment Asst. 20K/month” and a phone number. I just had to call to hear the scam. The recorded message sounded like a carefully read and somewhat wooden script. Basically, the person said that if I were one of 2 types, someone who is between jobs or already in real estate (ie. between jobs), I could learn how to be an investor! So, what they’re looking for is enough people to pay them 20k a month! It’s a sad estate of affairs, but a lot of people in real estate are those who couldn’t make a decent living doing what they used to do. 90% of them drop out the first year because they can’t make it, and the money they pay in learning the business provides income to their trainers. Many people who go into real estate are desperate to make money, and so they’re aggressive and cut corners. If they’re the types who would cheat on a quiz in school because they could get away with it and it was easier than studying, they’re likely to continue doing so. Some portion of the realtor population is caring and smart, and you can find them, but watch out for the rest!

To find out more about yourself, try the test and rest about your personality. But be warned, the results will be skewed if you're not honest with yourself!


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