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: Lori Moreno Makes Some Big Changes
In the fourth month of the series, the rookies tackle relocations, incorporation and business partners, and deals that fall through.
May 1, 2004
Lori Moreno, 30
ERA Sunrise Realty
I made some big changes recently in how I do business. First of all, I got incorporated. I’m now Lori Moreno & Associates Inc. I’m the president and John, my husband, is treasurer. We did it mainly for tax reasons. The way my accountant explained it to me, we’ll be able to write off more of our business expenses this way.
I was surprised by how easy the process is. My accountant handled the whole thing and charged us a grand total of $450. Now, I just need to get the business cards and stationary printed up, and I’ll be an official big shot.
The other change is more fundamental. I’m taking on a partner—my sister-in-law, Taralyn Harris. We’ve been talking about it for a while. She’s been working as a substitute teacher for the last few years but really wants to find a new job. She just finished real estate school and is set to take her state finals later this month.
I think she’ll be a big help in terms of prospecting. Right now, I depend mainly on advertising and the Internet for leads because I’m a relative newcomer to the area. I just don’t know that many people. But Taralyn grew up here and has lots of contacts. I think we’ll make a great team. I’m excited.
We’re going to work mainly out of our houses for a while but—if things work out—we’ll look for office space together.
Business-wise, I’m still dealing with the couple who went FSBO behind my back after signing a listing agreement with me. Initially, I wanted to take them to court to get my commission. I was so upset and outraged. But I’ve cooled off a little bit and realize suing clients—even clients who pull this kind of trick on you—doesn’t really make sense.
Suing takes time and money and creates a negative image. The last thing you want to be known as is a salesperson who sues clients.
I’d still like to get them to reimburse me for the money I spent on advertising and other marketing activities—about $500—but I don’t know if I’ll get it. I think the best solution probably is just to wash my hands of the whole deal and move on.
Still, the whole thing has been so disappointing. Is there any way to protect yourself against this kind of thing in the future?
On a more positive note, I had two closings last month, the most notable of which was the couple I mentioned in March who couldn’t seem to make up their minds. I must have shown them 70 different houses. It was nuts.
But they finally bought a place. And what do you think? It’s in a subdivision I showed them at the very beginning of the process but which they rejected back then as not right for them. Six months later, somehow, they’re fine with it.
I shouldn’t complain, though—they bought a far more expensive house than we initially looked at. In the beginning, they wanted to stay in the $300,000 price range. But the house they wound up buying was $362,000. They’re happy, and I’m happy.
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