Section 240. As soon as a real estate broker has opened his office he should let the public know that he is ready for business. Prior thereto he should have listed considerable property so as to be prepared for immediate inquiries. He can inform the public of his new calling by means of advertisements in the local newspapers, by distribution of business cards, by sending out circulars and by word of mouth, and by sign-boards on the properties which he has listed.
Sec. 241. Some brokers go about listing in a systematic manner. Let us suppose that there is a tract of land near a depot or railroad yard, or lying along or close to a railroad, which tract was built upon years ago and is now occupied by houses that are inhabited by railroad employes. This district, because of its proximity to the railroad, is not a desirable residence section. Let us suppose further that a new and larger depot is to be built and that there will be a demand for land around this depot for warehouse sites. Now, the man who goes systematically about listing will take a map of the tract in which this district lies, make a list of all the lots of the tract on legal-cap or fools-cap, placing the numbers of the lots at the left hand of the paper and leaving one blank line opposite to each number. Then, if he doesn't have a tract and address book, he goes to the County or City Assessor's office and obtains permission to look over the Assessor's book for that tract, in which book he will find the name and address of the owner of each lot at the date of the last assessment. Having secured these, he interviews all such owners who are in town and obtains their price, making a separate listing card for each, and, whenever he can do so, gets such owner to give him the exclusive agency for say sixty days or more. Some owners will sign the listing cards; others will not. He can sometimes list a real bargain by writing for price to an out-of-town owner who does not keep posted as to movements in city property. If he finds a particularly desirable corner, he may pay from $10 to $110 for an exclusive agency option (See Form No. 112) for say ninety days or six months. Having gone over the field thoroughly, he is in a position to say to intending purchasers just where is the cheapest piece of property in the district. There is considerable work attached to this method of listing, but the results are more certain than to go about it haphazardly. All the data so obtained should be classified and arranged for ready reference, so that it will be immediately available when wanted, as it will be in the future.
Sec. 242. The listing card shown in Form No. 118 has both space for description and agreement as to commission on one side of the card. Forms Nos. 117 and 120 show a card with space for description on one side and agreement for commission on the obverse, with space for confirming the listings. Where values are changing it is necessary to confirm and correct the listings every month or two. If the agent wishes to engage generally in sales and exchanges beyond the limits of his immediate vicinity, the forms given in Nos. 104 and 107 are well adapted to listing properties for this purpose.
Sec. 243. A broker to be successful should list property in the section in which property is selling and, whenever possible, obtain an exclusive agency contract. In large cities the areas in which real estate is being actively transferred are constantly changing, and it is part of the duty of the agent to get advance information of these movements in real estate and then list as much property as possible in that immediate section.
Sec. 244. An agent should write to all parties who advertise their own property, and tell them that he has exceptional facilities for handling that class of property, and that he is constantly having inquiries therefor; also that having recently engaged in the real estate business, he is putting more vigor and energy into the business than some of the agents who have been longer in the business and have fallen into the ruts of the trade.
Sec. 245. Good returns are generally obtained by the use of the "postal card with paid reply," which provides for the recipient detaching the annexed card in reply. A short note, something like the following, will generally bring the desired information: "In replying, please use attached card, and state your lowest cash price for your premises at No.....street, as
I am confident that I can dispose of this property immediately if the price is right. Also, please be kind enough to list any other property you may have."
Sec. 246. There is more real estate advertised as a rule in the Sunday newspapers in large cities than on any other day of the week, and the agent should answer these advertisements promptly every Monday morning. If the advertiser gives a box in some newspaper office, the reply should be sent there very early in the day.
Sec. 247. In approaching a real estate owner with a view to listing his property, the broker should present his business card and set forth the nature of his errand in a businesslike way. If the owner is a business man, he can be dealt with readily. If not accustomed to business, it will sometimes be necessary for the agent to first gain the owner's confidence.
Sec. 248. At the time of listing property, it is important that the agent have a clear and distinct understanding with the owner in regard to commission. The commission is the object for which the agent is working. Most owners understand what "regular commission" means. The list of commissions given at the close of this lesson is that in effect by the Los Angeles Realty Board, and is a safe and reasonable one to follow, unless the customary commission where the agent is located is higher, in which case he should follow the custom. If there is no established commission in the locality where the agent is acting, it would be well for him to have a list of his commissions printed on the back of his business cards. Where two agents work together to close a deal, one furnishing the property and the other the customer, it is usual to divide the commission equally between them, and sometimes it is expedient to allow a part of the commission to a person, not in the real estate business, who assists in effecting a sale. It is necessary, in some cases, in order to effect a sale, to allow the purchaser a rebate of say one-half of the commission.