I spent three hours at Costco this afternoon. This in and of itself is not much different than the hundreds of other people who passed through the Glendale Costco off 83rd Avenue and Bell.
What was different was I was selling real estate from a small table along the front walkway, hard by the portable 5-day ice chests (keeps ice cold for 5 days in 90-degree heat!) and across from the high definition television sets.
Costco members receive rebates when they use a certain group of agents for their real estate purchase or sale. The numbers vary, but the rebate’s roughly one-sixth of one percent. Our hook was a large sign to the left of the table with photographs of sold homes and the rebates that accompanied the sales.
Neighborhood knowledge comes in handy, as the photos come from our main office down in Ahwatukee and don’t give details beyond city, bedrooms, bathrooms, price and rebate. There’s no mention of subdivisions or square footage, for example.
Still, when someone asked me about a pictured 2-bedroom home in Surprise that sold for $215,000, it was fairly easy to determine the home likely was in Mountain Vista Ranch or Ashton Ranch, a pair of subdivisions with a number of 2-bedroom homes and that the home probably was around 1,400 to 1,500 square feet. The home also could have been in Greenway Parc for that matter, but the particulars weren’t important as the fact I had the chance to demonstrate intimate knowledge of the Surprise market.
(Of course, if I had been completely wrong there’s a more than decent chance that the folks to whom I was speaking wouldn’t know. It’s similar to a story told by my rabbi’s husband on Friday after he read the week’s torah portion. He could have chanted it, he said, with any melody he chose – no one would have known if he was right or wrong.)
Traffic through Costco was heavy. Traffic stopping at the table was light. In some cases, it was almost comical watching customers make a wide, wide turn to avoid having to come close enough to my table to make eye contact.
The benefit from an agent’s standpoint is the prospecting aspect. But the benefit does come at a cost: a sale or purchase for a Costco client results in a roughly 1% net commission. Still, it’s money we would not otherwise be earning.
And sometimes, there’s the added benefit of knowing you’re not alone in the sales effort. Wanda, a lovely woman selling pottery imported from Italy, spent a great deal of time motioning for me to keep smiling. I’m not sure I’d have had much success greeting every passing customer with “biongiorno” … but maybe I’ll try it next time.
Either that, or I’m hiding a bottle of Bacardi in the 5-day cooler with some ice.