In this column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
You probably know Gerard Splendore from his column for Inman where he talks about everything from elevators to early 20th-century home styles. However, it’s not his encyclopedic knowledge of residential architecture that sets him apart. It’s his dedication to problem-solving and his ability to see the humor (and even “ludicrousness”) in real estate that allows him to provide world-class service and attention to his New York City clients.
- Name: Gerard Splendore
- Title: Associate broker
- Experience: 23.5 years
- Location: New York City
- Brokerage name: Coldwell Banker Warburg
- Rankings: Top 17 percent of Coldwell Banker
- Awards: Runner-up in REBNY Deal of the Year Contest, an award given to members who have achieved an outstanding closing while overcoming unique obstacles and challenges.
Q&A with Gerard Splendore
What’s the best advice you ever got from a mentor or colleague?
“In real estate, don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.” This is so true in almost all aspects of life. It is almost inevitable that a seller will say, “I want to sell this apartment quickly,” and then take an exorbitant amount of time to sign an exclusive.
Other sellers will insist they have decluttered their home, when in fact, they have only discarded a stack of magazines next to their bed. I provide them a numbered list with instructions about how to proceed; the list gives them a step-by-step roadmap or recipe to move forward.
What would you tell a new agent before they start out in the business?
I caution newcomers that liking humans and seeing others’ points of view is crucial in this business. Otherwise, you will be miserable at the end of each day. Problem-solving skills are imperative, and each day will present opportunities to refine them.
I learned in a college course on communications that the two strongest words in the English language are “mother” and “home,” and they are inextricably connected. This is how I remind myself of the importance of home to each of us, which is connected inextricably with mother.
In real estate purchases and sales, I work to manage expectations and satisfy customer needs. Added to these two potent words is the word “money,” which has even more far-reaching connotations. Being careful to remain tactful but direct in negotiations is at the forefront.
What do too few agents know that would make their lives easier?
It is only real estate. It is not life or death. Drama, stress and frustration will rob one of the pleasurable aspects of this business. When an offer has been submitted and I am waiting for a response, or a managing agent does not respond in a timely fashion, or another agent is slow to get back to me, I try to remind myself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” and remind myself it is “only real estate.”
What is the one thing everyone should be doing to make their life/business better?
Please try to overlook that this may sound facile: Nothing is more important than gratitude. In any situation, if one stands back and sees the big picture, a crisis can become an opportunity, problems can be solved and tension can be averted.
I tell my clients that my job is to worry. They should sleep peacefully, and I will be up in the middle of the night worrying; that is my job. One’s attitude and point of view control is almost everything in life.
In any customer service industry in which people’s homes, lives and money all play crucial roles, it is vital to be focused on the buyers’ and sellers’ expectations, understanding the buying and selling process, and other factors of their lives that impact the transactions. If an agent is not sensitive to the buyer or seller’s life situation, mental state, or family issues, the agent will be resentful and unhappy.
What was your most memorable transaction?
I was selling a two-family house across the street from my family’s home in Brooklyn. The seller overpriced the house, and over time, we had to lower the price, but there were long weeks of open houses. This was overshadowed by the seller having two very large, very vocal parrots with filthy mouths in what had formerly been the dining room.
Imagine, if you will, entering a beautiful 100-year-old house with stately, well-maintained oak wainscoting and a grand staircase, only to be greeted by parrots shrieking obscenities before buyers even entered their immediate area.
Even more off-putting, the birds imitated the Irish brogue of the seller’s late mother, who had been living in the house with her while ill. Buyers heard an Irish senior citizen screaming: “Maureen, call the priest! This is it. I am going to meet your father in heaven!” It was right out of a Steven King novel!
I finally had to insist that the birds’ enormous cages be covered with sheets during the open houses, so buyers could move through the house without trauma.
Additionally, the basement of the house had a full apartment with a kitchen and bathroom, although the kitchen appliances were not connected. The appraiser would not accept that the house was a two-family home and kept insisting it was a three-family. A contractor had to remove the shower in the basement bathroom and all the appliances in the basement kitchen.
There are solutions to every problem, but they require imagination, determination, and often, some elbow grease. The house closed, and the new owner is still living there happily. The birds are with their “human mother” in their new home.
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