The Glamorous Life of a Realtor

I just spent two hours moving scrap metal, moldy old cook books, cleaning chemicals, and dog paraphernalia out of someone’s million-dollar home on the morning of a closing. I am glad I’m not one of those suit-wearing real estate brokers. Actually, if I had arrived in a suit, perhaps I could have used that as an excuse not to do any heavy lifting. But my previous two decades spent in a rock band seemingly has preempted that particular sartorial choice.

I am sincerely eager to hear if anyone’s job description can be interpreted as liberally as mine: Realtor; marketer; writer; photographer; house-cleaner; stager; marriage counselor; psychologist; mind-reader; furniture mover; dog-walker; house salesman; buyer agent; seller agent; dual agent; smoke-alarm purchaser and installer; septic tank aficionado; para-paralegal; inspector liaison; babysitter; chauffeur; buddy; advocate; enemy; mediator. All of the above can and have been done in a single transaction, by the way.

Look, I am truly not complaining. Basically, this job is defined by the individual. You make it your own. One of the main reasons my business partner and I succeed as a team in the face of a struggling market and economy is that we are distinctive marketers and buyer counselors who choose to go above and beyond in everything we do, from the marketing materials themselves to the negotiation of deals. We often employ a tag-team tactic where one of us might be moving junk out of basement while dealing with tense buyers on an unsatisfactory final walk-through, while the other of us escorts a frazzled seller — running on no sleep over the past two days — to a closing.

I have seen sellers so bitter that they removed light bulbs from every fixture and toilet paper from each dispenser in the house before they moved out. And this was not a foreclosure; that was during the good years! I have seen a buyer come back to a seller three times with increasingly and dramatically lower prices over the course of six months of an overpriced listing until the beaten-down elderly sellers finally accepted an offer far below the original offer from the same buyer months prior. I have seen people sit at the same closing table glaring at each other through gritted teeth, restrained only by the table itself from inflicting physical pain on each other. I have seen lawyers try to childishly embarrass each other over minor paperwork issues. I have seen divorcing couples try to just plain embarrass each other. I have heard lawyers characterize their own clients as “insane.”

Oh, the list goes on. But some instances are too fresh and too soon. Tragedy + time = comedy, right? (So, we should be laughing about the miserable end to the 2011 Sox season by January.)

Sure, lots of people used to think my time in a rock band that traveled around the world for 10 years was somewhat glamorous. All they had to do was come to one dimly lit, stinky backstage “dressing room” or travel for as few as three consecutive dates on a 30-date tour to have that myth shot down. But I once left a press conference where, as a musician and organizer of the Hot Stove Cool Music benefit, I stood alongside Peter Gammons and Theo Epstein in front of local and national media (glamorous), to go stand in a dog-poop-strewn living room in a “starter home” in some distant suburb (not so glamorous). I questioned my life choices at that moment.

Frankly, dragging the skeletons out of the closet and to the curb for trash pick-up on moving day is easier. And it pays better. I wish I could get a Grammy for “Best Improvised Defusing of a Tense Argument About What Defines ‘Broom Swept’ While Moving Out.” My life would be complete.