Welcome back to The Sunday Scroll. A rambling blog of my inner monologue with one goal in mind: keep you entertained during your open house. Today I will be talking about “The Sunday Scaries” and why mine were caused by open houses.
For those who may not know, The Sunday Scaries is a form of anticipatory anxiety that takes place the night before a traditional Monday-Friday work week.
Before I got licensed, I clearly remember a distinct pit in my stomach that would develop the second my eyes opened on Sunday morning. Tomorrow was work. In fact, one of the most appealing aspects of becoming a real estate agent for me was to abandon the traditional work week and avoid The Sunday Scaries. Little did I know that when I got licensed The Sunday Scaries would evolve into The Monday Scaries, The Tuesday Scaries, The Friday Scaries, The Saturday Scaries, and basically every hour of every day. For me, this anxiety and overwhelming feeling of despair was mostly caused by one of if not THE most important bedrocks of our business: The Open House.
Let me walk you through my misery. Hopefully you can’t relate.
In my early years as a real estate agent I worked as a buyer’s agent for a successful team in Beverly Hills. I didn’t have much of a network that was buying or selling real estate, so I resorted to the classics: cold calling, door knocking, and sitting open houses. I sucked at the first two, so I figured my bread and butter would be opens where people were coming to me. I fancied myself a socially capable person and figured I’d be able to charm some unrepresented buyers into working with a 25 year-old who didn’t know how to fill in a purchase agreement. So, at the orders of my boss, I would sit open houses every Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. I quickly realized that I also hated this form of “lead generation,” but maybe I was just a victim of the times. 2014-2016 was not like today. Open houses were not these vibrant, busy events with pre-approved buyers flooding the hallways of your listing. Open houses for me were dead, long, and an enormous waste of time. My team put me on unsellable, overpriced listings that had been sitting for months. I was basically just a body being used to appease an unrealistic seller before another desperate plea for a price reduction.
Let me break down my open house routine so you too can relive my Scaries…
Step 1: Open House Signs
Putting out open house signs in Los Angeles is one of the more psychotic procedures that I’ve ever endured. I would wake up at the crack of dawn (with a crippling hangover), drive to my team leader’s house (hoping that he wasn’t awake to pepper me with questions), gather up 10-15 open house signs, put them in my trunk, and start setting them up around the city. In LA, you risk a parking ticket every time you go to Chipotle, so this is no easy task. Pulling up on the side of a street corner, setting up signs, trying to not get hit by a car (or trying to) was humiliating. I always pictured people in my age-group driving by to brunch, hysterically laughing at the pathetic nature of what I was doing.
Step 2: The Drive
The drive to the open house was extremely memorable for me because that’s where I did a lot of my deep thinking. I was in full contemplation mode. Now that I had time to myself, I could finally replay all the horrible decisions I made the night before and really focus on what was about to come: three hours of hell. Luckily, I had enough Gary Videos swirling around my head to warp my brain into thinking I was in “hustle mode.”
If it wasn’t for him, I probably would have swerved my car into every open house sign that I saw.
Step 3: The Arrival
Depending on the house, the actual arrival to the listing was a wildcard. One of the houses that I sat had a seller who was ALWAYS there, waiting to debrief last weekend’s failed open house and strategize how this week could go better. He would say something like, “we should play this music instead or you should put more signs on this street instead of that street.” Like more signs would make up for the fact the house was overpriced and on a loud, busy street.
I’m not a deeply religious man, but I would say a prayer every morning in my car as I got closer to the house. “Please don’t be there please don’t be there please don’t be there.” When I would see the seller’s car still perched in the driveway, I would sometimes fantasize about ramming it straight through the garage (with nobody in it of course). By the way, I realize this is my second reference to using my car as a battering ram. It’s important to note this is all for comedic effect and is not based in reality. Wink face.
Step 4: The Set Up
There was always some obstacle to overcome: an alarm that needed disarming, a lock or lockbox that was impossible to open, a chatty seller, or a smoke alarm that would start chirping at me the second I walked in the door. Once I got in, I would turn on all the lights that the seller (who was just there) turned off, put out the sign-in sheet, write-in a few fake names, and start staring at the clock as if a flurry of buyers would be rushing through the door at 2:00 PM. The best part about all of this was even if a buyer came in and wrote an offer on the spot, I would get nothing for it. They would have to be unrepresented and write an offer on ANOTHER house for me to receive any compensation. But like I said, I was in hustle and grind mode. Thank you Gary.
Step 5: Three Hours of Hell
Again, my team put me on dead houses that received no traction. So, basically I would sit there and try to pass the time on Tinder or Instagram, holding in bowel movements to avoid the off-chance awkwardness of someone arriving amidst an anal exorcism.
The guests that would stumble were usually neighbors or Title Reps, and I would always be caught off guard because of how rare this occurrence was. It’s like when you wait too long for the group in front of you in golf. It throws off your groove and you’re probably going to snap hook your next shot. Also, nobody taught me anything so I was basically shooting from the hip on what to say to these people. I didn’t have another house to sell and was basically only focused on how to get them to sign-in.
That was my Super Bowl. Find a way to ask them to sign-in that didn’t sound too aggressive so I could show my team lead evidence that the open house actually took place. That registration list was like the Declaration of Independence to my boss, so I had to at least walk away with some legible signatures. The rest of my time was spent violently swiping on Tinder, checking my fantasy football team, and actively trying to preserve my phone battery because I always forgot my charger.
Step 6: The Lockup
My team (not me) was very successful so the houses I was sitting were not 800 square foot bungalows. So, the lockup routine would usually take 15-20 minutes in itself. Of course, I would always start this process at 3:50 PM, ten minutes before the open house ended so I could leave the second the clock struck 4:00 PM. I couldn’t stomach being there for any longer. But, I quickly learned the minute you start locking up, a neighbor shows up to talk your ear off. Tack on another thirty minutes. Finally I would finish, pick up my pathetic sign-in sheet, gather up my business cards, and leave. But, it’s not over yet. Don’t forget about the 15 signs that I strategically sprinkled around THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES! Tack on another 45!
The drive home was equally as bad as the drive there except now I was riddled with anxiety about forgetting a sign
and my dreaded post-game recap call with the boss. It usually would go something like this: “Hey! Yeah, it wasn’t super packed but a few interested groups came by…yes I got their contact info… I don’t know if they were working with an agent… yes I’ll ask that next time…one couple stayed for like five minutes so they seemed really interested…. Yup…. See you soon..” Then I would drive to his house and have the exact same conversation.
My final step was my arrival back to my own apartment, where I would encounter my relaxed, satisfied roommates who spent the day eating sushi and watching Aaron Rodgers throw for 350 and 4 TD’s against my fantasy team. The worst part about it was deep down, I knew that they had accomplished as much as I did that day.
Just kidding I’m not ending it like that! My god that was depressing!! The bright side of this story is that out of the Sunday Scaries came The Broke Agent. All of these moments and experiences gave me the initial material to start posting content. So, I’m actually eternally grateful for the open houses and would do it all over again in a heartbeat! There’s some inspiration for ya. Enjoy your open house today and if you need a good playlist to put on, we got you covered!