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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Your Calendar Says Thanksgiving. Mine Says Thursday

Few enter the real estate business unless they’re hard chargers, the types of people who are comfortable working sometimes long and always irregular hours and for whom down time holds little appeal. And those who aren’t of that ilk usually are out of the business once they’ve grabbed the low-hanging fruit and have to start prospecting in earnest.

It’s for this reason that I’ve come to dread the holiday season because, whether I want it or not, I’m almost always saddled with a couple of weeks of unwanted vacation time. Let’s face it … even though it’s still 80 degrees here in Phoenix four days before Thanksgiving, making it hard to believe there will be a turkey on the table in the near future, few are thinking about buying or selling real estate this time of year.

Here’s what is in the near future:

  • This week: Dead. (Exception: any Canadians here who celebrated Thanksgiving last month.)
  • Next week: Buyers re-emerge. This holds up for about two weeks until …
  • December 15 – January 2: Deader than dead.

There are rare exceptions to the rule. In fact, this entire fourth quarter has been the exception to the rule of my career thus far. Closings usually are few and far between during the final couple of months of the year, but not so this year. So maybe the holidays will be different as well.

Managing Down Time

With the almost inevitable forced down time, the question becomes how best I can spend my waking hours without driving myself nutty pursuing clients whose thoughts are elsewhere.

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Will this finally be the year that I find a contact management system that works better than my combination of white board and sticky notes?

Will my office finally get cleaned after a couple years’ accumulation of faxed offers, counter offers, inspection reports, inspection notices, walkthroughs, termite reports, addenda and listings?

Will I be able to play Guitar Hero on the Expert setting with sufficient practice?

I’ve reached a stage this year where I’ve had as much business as I can handle under my current system, which often as not is not much of a system at all. I have systems in place for listings but for most all of the rest, including lead management, my methods are haphazard at best. If I can be this effective now, what can I achieve once I remove the large piles of paper from my desk and sticky notes from the computer screen?

Sometimes the most productive thing we can do is take 30 minutes out of the prospecting cycle to work on improving the overall system. And with any luck, I’ll actually convince myself to do that this year.

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If not, there’s always turkey and Van Halen, Guitar Hero style.

Written By

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.



  1. Artur | Central Phoenix Real Estate

    November 24, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Since 1999 I have never had downtime in the winter holiday season with the exception of the abysmal 2007 year. Many investors want to close by years end and others are just serious about buying. January has been slowest for me over the years so it’s the time to do down time work.

  2. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    November 24, 2008 at 9:01 am

    We had an unexpected year last year for the holidays – I guess the down market took us by surprise and we had an incredible month with tons of movement. On that note, we had planned down time and were bummed we could not take it.

    I laughed at your Guitar Hero thing btw – I have a goal to learn my new Mac….we’ll see.

  3. Vance Shutes

    November 24, 2008 at 11:18 am


    Hmm. 80 degrees in Phoenix. My heart bleeds for you! Come on and sell in Michigan with the snow flying and 6 degrees on the thermometer. Now that’s selling!

    Happy Thanksgiving. I mean, happy Thursday.

  4. Missy Caulk

    November 24, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Jon, a coach I had for my first three years in the business, taught us to take one day, and if you can’t do that to take 1/2 to work ON the business and not in the business.

    It helps and is just as important.

  5. Vicki Moore

    November 24, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    I spend the Christmas/New Year’s work days to get ready for the next year. Business plan type stuff. It gives me motivation and optimism for the coming year. I use it as time to get my –it together.

  6. Paula Henry

    November 26, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Jonathan – This is the year I took on a part time licensed admin person to assist me in staying on task. It wasn’t too dificult a decision; at $12.50 an hour, my time is much better spent with my clients. Now, I have the next few weeks to get her working my systems and feel good it’s the best way to spend a bit of down time.

    Happy Thursday!

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