Years ago I gave serious thought to getting my real estate license after I’d found a buyer for a large ranch and didn’t get one thin dime out of the deal, thank you very much. Several of my road agent buddies got their licenses and every now and then you hear about one of them getting a commission check for more money than I make in a year. It’s natural fit because I don’t know of anyone who visits more ranches or meets more prospective buyers than the guys who travel for livestock publications working ring at cattle auctions.
My good Texas buddy E.C. has had his broker’s license for years and from the outside looking in seems a profitable endeavor. I don’t know anyone who knows more rich people than E.C. He goes hunting with Baseball Hall of Famers and used to work all the big Keeneland sales in Kentucky where multi-million dollar horses sell to billionaire Arab sheiks.
Recently retired from working ring, E.C. is the Godfather of all ring men. One day he’d be selling pricey art in Santa Fe, the next week he might be helping sell collectible cars in Scottsdale and the next he’s traveling all across the country selling real estate at auction. I don’t know any ring man who has more mileage on his odometer than E.C. so in our last conversation I asked when he was going to slow down. E.C. replied, “Funny you should ask. Margie and I just had a meeting with our financial adviser and after looking at our finances he estimated that at the current rate my offspring are producing costly grandkids I should be able to retire on the morning of the day I die.”
Being a ranch real realtor is not all big commission checks. First of all you have to look prosperous because no one likes to do business with an unsuccessful realtor. At the very least ranch realtors need a current year Suburban or Expedition and many have their own airplane or helicopter. Then there’s the Luchesse boots, silver and gold buckle set, the latest iPhone and a silver belly hat with nary a sweat or manure stain. They must spend fortunes in advertising that keep livestock publications alive to advertise themselves and their listings. Then there’s the cost of going to the big convention every year in hopes of impressing other ranch realtors in order to get “co-listings.”
I decided that not only did I not have the attire, the pocketbook or the looks to be a ranch realtor, I just didn’t have the right demeanor. Sure, being a ranch realtor is great on the day they sell a ranch but how about the other 364 days a year when they are working for free, chasing false prospects or going down dead ends? I don’t know if I could handle the housing bubbles, and boom and bust cycles that real estate goes through, especially in my home state of California where currently the asking price for a homeless person’s refrigerator carton in San Francisco is a quarter million dollars. I also don’t circulate in groups of people who’d buy a “hunting property” with a price tag larger than my ten digit phone number.
I tend to be the despondent type anyway and would be slitting my wrists if I went a month without selling a ranch. I have an acquaintance in our town who has an office, advertises heavily and is well liked but in 2017 he sold exactly one listing. He reminds me of the old Ace Reid cartoon which pictures a skeleton in a cowboy hat named J.M. Defunct, a ranch realtor who says, “If I don’t sell sumpin’ soon I’m gonna starve plum to death.”
I suppose the real reason I never got my realtor’s license is I was afraid I’d have to change the way I write and learn an entirely new language where a ranch two hours from the nearest town is a “secluded hideaway”; where gale force winds become “gentle breezes in the afternoon”; a shack without electricity or running water has “old world charm”; a mud flat becomes “a meadow glade”; a ranch home overlooking a dump is “a property with a view”; and a house 50 feet from the railroad track is “close to transportation.”