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  • Robert Bruce Adams


I RECENTLY PASSED MY MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE licensing exam. This was a nice achievement for me. I spent 40 hours in classroom preparation and followed this with a solid week of review. Those weeks reminded me of the cramming I did in college mostly to keep my head above water. It brought back less than pleasant memories.

The fact that I had an MBA degree in finance helped me solve some of the questions on the exam. The examiner wouldn’t reveal my test score, only that I passed, after answering eighty questions correctly. I have decided to take on the enterprising attitude that I might have“aced” it. Bottom line: Real estate is a complex business with much to learn and no one has yet to ask me about my test score. If history repeats itself, it probably was close.

I have associated with a real estate agent who has devoted almost twenty-five years to the profession. She offered me a position to assist her in her business that is in the middle of a boom period in northern Michigan. This was a blessing for me as it is unquestionably a business that one needs to have a mentor. I’m also hoping that it fits into my economic recovery plan that has been in my sights for some time.

My first showing of property took place last weekend. It was an open house for a water view property - a 2 BDR + 2 BTH condo that was a bit long in the tooth. The water view tag means much in property appeal. This may not be a hot tip to many of you, but let me remind you, I’m still a neophyte trying to earn my first stripes.

I read over the literature and listing documents and organized my pitch as I enjoyed several cups of coffee. I had always believed in studying the details in preparation for my sales calls back at GM and Ford. I share here that my new supervisor asked that I simply observe and learn from her on this first open house. I was prepared to throttle back and watch the maestro in action.

We headed to the office in my sparkling clean SUV. My prior experience taught me that a clean car was next to godliness when it comes to sales. I learned that we would be displaying open house signs ornamented with balloons that would be bobbing in the wind.

We entered the coffee room at the real estate office and next to the counter was a four-foot helium tank that had the appearance of a torpedo. It had a special brass nozzle where one filled the balloons with the helium gas. In my earlier experience, I had never used balloons in my sales efforts, just boxes of donuts. I delighted in the novelty of the approach. We filled five balloons and tied them with eight-foot white ribbons placing them securely in the back of my Equinox. They would be placed strategically around the snow banks along the streets that led to the property. I love balloons. They are always a delight to see at any festive event and they do draw attention.

We loaded the car with signs and balloons and the drive out to the property was uneventful. We turned off the main highway and my boss asked that I hug the access road’s shoulder leaving just enough so she could get out of the car and show me how to place the signs in the snow banks. As she left the front seat, I nimbly assisted her by opening the back hatch using my key fob so I could collect the balloons. At this exact moment a breeze came through the passenger cabin and jettisoned the five balloons out the opened rear hatch gate. The balloons gained altitude with impressive boldness floating in the beautiful blue sky over East Bay.

After my well-seasoned expletive, I realized selling real estate was going to be quite a challenge. This clearly was not a good start.

I also decided that my stripes would have to be earned at a future date.

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