How Not to Die - Agents and Brokers Edition

Originally posted on November 11, 2019 1:36 pm
Updated on November 20, 2019 11:04 am

The top voted article on Hacker News caught my attention today. It’s actually an old Paul Graham essay from well over 10 years ago, but one that I used to read every few months during the early days of RentHop.


Back then, Lawrence and I incorrectly assumed that open listings and rental brokers were the problem. We didn’t understand the reasons for the inventory fragmentation, the importance of qualifying clients, and most critically the economics behind why open listings are one of the best solutions for matching solid tenants with great apartments.

The biggest takeaway behind PG version of How Not to Die is to keep producing and keep doing what you know needs to be done, even when demoralizing events occur (and for startups, there is always an endless supply of bad news). Keep on typing! Keep on releasing features. You fail when you accept defeat and stop working – it is a self-fulfilling downward spiral.

Fair enough, but what does that mean for a licensed real estate salesperson servicing open listing rental apartments in New York City? We are entering the cold winter season, when quality tenants are hard to find, landlords increasingly more desperate. But should an agent do?

Keep on closing deals. Keep on responding to leads, and keep on reposting your listings. Yes, winter is here. More and more leads will be duds, either kicking tires and ultimately staying put, or renters not looking to move for months. However, the only way to guarantee you won’t close any deals is not to reply. If you don’t respond, your competitors will.

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