Rookie Diary: Ada Acevedo Gets a Promising Referral and Loses an FSBO

In the second month of the series, the rookies face challenges as they try to increase sales and develop a niche.

March 1, 2004

Ada Acevedo, 27

Baird & Warner

March 2004

I had a very promising referral this month. A client gave my name to a man who’s looking to invest in real estate. He’s a consultant for McKinsey & Co., the big management consulting firm.

We had a meeting and talked about strategy and it seemed to go well. There are many possibilities, but I think what we’re probably talking about is a three- or four-unit apartment building in a mixed-use neighborhood that could be rehabbed either into residential units or office condos.

I would really love for this project to go forward, not only because it represents immediate business but also because investing is something I would like to get into myself. I think I can learn a lot from this if it goes forward.

It’s complicated, though. I’m aware that I need to learn more about rehab costs, long-term cash flows, and tax implications. Can anyone recommend a good basic guide to this stuff?

It’s been a quiet month in Chicago. We’re having one of the worst winters anyone can remember. I’ve done quite a few showings but, mainly, we’re just kind of waiting for the snow to melt and for the season to begin.

I did come close to a listing and then lost it to another salesperson. I’m still not sure if I did the right thing.

What happened was, I approached a FSBO, a woman who said she needed to sell her condo relatively quickly. In the meeting, she insisted the condo be listed for $300,000. That seemed to be at least $25,000 more than it was worth.

Here was my reasoning: There was an identical, newly rehabbed unit for sale in the same building for less than what she wanted. I didn’t see how we could compete with that, especially given the time frame.

Well, I didn’t get the listing, and I saw later that another salesperson did and priced it at $300,000. I don’t know, should I have just gone along with what she wanted?

The thing is, I didn’t want to disappoint her, and I really didn’t think it would sell at the price she was demanding. I’m still wondering if I could have handled this differently.

I’m also working with a couple of buyers. The most interesting is a young couple who recently had a baby and need to find a bigger place.

They can afford $300,000 to $400,000—a popular range in Chicago right now. But we’re still having trouble. Every building seems to have something wrong with it, and it’s never the same thing. It’s early in the process, though—way too soon to feel discouraged by it. I’m going to hang in there.

The fact is, I like buyers—the personal contact, the time you spend getting to know them and their needs. There’s something very rewarding about finding buyers a place they like and would never have found on their own. You really feel like you’ve accomplished something.

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.

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