38) My Big, Impressive and Nearly Flawless Career in San Francisco Real Estate Sales

In my  last post you read about how I met Nadine. In this post you will read how, while still working at The San Francisco Residence Club, I tried my hand at selling real estate in some of the most expensive zip codes in the world.

Too Smart to Consider Advice

In 1979, against the warning of everyone I knew, I quit my job at The San Francisco Residence Club and underwent training at the Lumbleau School of Real Estate to get my California Real Estate Agent’s License. In 1979 the prime rate was around 15.75% but I reasoned the rich could still afford the condominiums and houses in Pacific Heights. I read the book “Dress for Success” by Robert Mallory and adapting the concept to the two jackets I owned, walked Nob Hill like a billy-goat that summer, carrying sheaves of papers and sweating like a carpet installer in Florida. I would memorize things to say to prospective buyers of expensive condominiums on Nob, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights and The Marina.

The Art of the Sale – Offering Prestigious Neighborhood Addresses

“This one’s got a view,” I would say. “Walking distance to The Top of the Mark Restaurant at the Mark Hopkins Hotel,” I would tell another. “The former owner used it as a Pier-a-Terre.” I would brag, feeling certain the buyer – just by me uttering these words – would know I not only was fluent in a french idiom, but that I was most likely a member of a bohemian set so ensconced and connected that my credibility could never come into question.

Falling Just Short

Unfortunately, after several months of effort, I did not sell even one San Francisco flat, town home, condominium or house. I did not the staying power, I concluded, to harvest the right personal connections – the kind that trust you with selling their Nob Hill mansion. 

Very Questionable Judgement

After applying for California Unemployment Compensation based on my earnings at The San Francisco Residence Club, I approached the owner and asked if I could have my old job back, to which she agreed. Instead of notifying the state I had been rehired, I continued to draw unemployment. In the meantime, trying to cover my bases, I continued my association with the brokerage firm that hired me to sell real estate. If economic conditions improved, I reasoned, it might be advantageous for me to be on good terms with the real estate brokerage company.

Humiliated and Humbled

Weeks passed, and I continued my employment at the residence club, for which I was earning enough to get by, but not much else. One day I received a letter from the State of California Unemployment Compensation indicated to me they have discovered I was already working and therefore not entitled unemployment benefits. I was to appear in court and pay the money back. This was my first and only time appearing before, a judge and it is not a stretch to say one I will remember for the rest of my life.

Worse, my real estate license was revoked, and no one who helped me get started in the business had the least bit of sympathy for the mess I had got myself into. I was humiliated and deeply shamed. I justified my decision to take money from the state by telling myself my job wasn’t paying me a decent living wage. In truth, I lied and cheated to make my circumstances easier.

Did you ever want something so badly you would cheat to get it?

Next – Sherwin Williams Paint Salesman

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