Robert Sharoff is an architectural writer for The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine. With photographer William Zbaren, he has produced books highlighting the architecture of Detroit and St. Louis. He is a former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine.
Rookie Diary: William Pecora Learns the Business
Meet the three new rookies we will follow over the next 7 months, as they try to find success in the real estate industry.
February 1, 2004
William Pecora, 25
RE/MAX Real Estate Ltd.
I never started off to be a real estate salesperson. I grew up in New York and moved to Toms River, N.J., when I was a teenager. After high school, I spent a year or two working as an assistant manager for Van Heusen, the shirt company.
Then I moved to Philadelphia to be a retail district manager for Donna Karan, the fashion designer. Eventually, I was transferred to the New York office, and at that point, moved back to Toms River.
It was, in a lot of ways, what I always wanted, or what I thought I wanted. But after four years, I started to get disillusioned. In retail, you’re always working. You never get a day off. And there’s a lot of pressure.
I also wanted more control over my business and income. At Donna Karan, no matter what kind of year I had, I still made the same amount of money.
So I started thinking about alternatives. I began surfing the Internet and looking at classified ads for different hot jobs and saw that a lot of companies were looking for real estate salespeople.
I had some vacation time coming so I decided to enroll in real estate school. This was in November of 2001.
Back then, my apartment wasn’t too far from a RE/MAX office. Two days before I got my license, I walked in and asked to see the broker. We spent about an hour and a half talking about the company and what it’s like to get started.
I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Meanwhile, at Donna Karan, I was up for a big promotion, which I subsequently got. And that was the turning point.
I realized I didn’t want to live that way anymore—the 60-hour work weeks, the constant travel, the never having time for my family.
Finally, in January 2002, I made the jump. My first week was nerve-wracking. I was in the office 10 hours a day. I started by writing down the names of everyone I knew—family, friends, friends of friends. I asked my mom and grandmother for their address books. Then I wrote everybody a letter saying I’ve made a transition, I’m in real estate now, and if there’s anything I can do for you or anyone you know, please let me know.
I made my first sale three months later off of a referral from my broker, a guy who was getting married and needed to buy a house. The price was $205,000, but I negotiated it down to $190,000.
I found that I was a very good negotiator. It was so easy and natural. I felt very proud when I got my client the price he wanted to pay.
The commission came just in time. By the time I made my first sale, I was down to $185 in the bank. That’s all I had to my name.
I had 11 sales my first year and made about $35,000, quite a bit less than I had been making at Donna Karan. The next year, however, my sales volume was $3.8 million, and I made $85,000. My volume goal this year is $4 million.
I sell mainly in Ocean and Monmouth counties—a pretty big area. An average house is about 1,800 square feet and goes for about $250,000 or more.
Last fall, my wife, Amy, and I bought our first house, a three-bedroom ranch on a half-acre lot in Toms River. I also have a son, Anthony, who’s 7.
Right now, I’m excited. I’m someone who thinks there’s a reason for everything. There’s a reason I started looking for a new job, a reason I went to school, and a reason I found RE/MAX. So while I may have been nervous about making the change, deep down, I knew it was the right thing to do. I feel like every day is a new opportunity to think of something to enhance my life. The world seems full of opportunity.
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