Touching the Elephant

Hey, it’s me. Want to shoot the bull about the real estate market? Want to find a few bearish real estate messengers to shoot? I’m game. I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got plenty of time on the horizon – just like the market does.

I know I can be a pain in the real estate butt at times. I often say things some of you would rather not hear. Mea Culpa. I can’t help it. It’s a dirty job but someone has to get out of their BMW’s, roll up the sleeves of their Armanis and just do it.

There is value in giving voice to those secret things our clients are entertaining, fearing, hoping but are afraid to talk openly about in polite company or even to themselves in private.  Nobody likes a nattering nabob of negativism, so very few of us want to volunteer to shine a flashlight into the dark closet of the marketplace, illuminate the scary shadows there and diminish the power of the bogeyman guarding the gates of the unknown.

Bringing things to the surface is good medicine. Like all good medicine sometimes it tastes bad. But real grown-ups know that if you want to get better you have to force yourself to swallow it.

So.what are we going to do with the 5,000 pound elephant that’s still standing over there in the corner? It is taking up a lot of room. I don’t think it’s going to leave any time soon. We have to keep feeding it something or it’s eventually going to swallow us.

Most of us know the story about the 3 blindfolded men asked to touch an elephant and describe their experience. Each touches the creature in a different place and comes away with a completely different conclusion about what they feel.

The message: reality depends on what your approach and perspective is and how your brain creates structure and logic out of the chaos of atoms that is swirling around out there as it comes in contact with your senses.

At the moment, we’ve got lots of blindfolded people moving around the real estate market. They are close to the elephant. They hear its breath. Sniff its proximity. And they are desperately reaching out to grab hold of something tangible. They are working hard to make up their minds about what the heck they really feel.

Depending on which part the market they happen to be in contact with there’s a veritable smorgasbord of conclusions they can come up with about it’s true nature.

Sellers have all kinds of realities going on. Some are frustrated about the lack of an offer. Others are confused because they didn’t get three or four offers the first week. Some are afraid the Bank-Owned listing down the street is going to undercut their value. Some are exhausted by too many days on market. Some are convinced that one special buyer will show up with a suitcase full of cash any day now. Some are noticing more “for sale” signs starting to pop up and getting worried.  Some think the market is in for a double dip.  Some think the market already hit bottom months ago and is on the way up.

Buyers are on the other side of the same elephant and just as scattered. Some feel like there is no need to hurry. Some think they better buy now before it is too late. Some are scared to death that if they buy today, their house will be worth less in six months. Some think all the bargains out there are a steal. Some lose hope every time the median price rises. Some don’t even know what the median price is.  Some can’t decide whether it is still a Buyer’s market or not. Some just want to own a home and don’t really care what the market is doing.

So fellow Realtors let’s gather around and huddle up. Is there anyone who hasn’t heard some variation of all of the above in the last few months.? Can it all be true? Can it all be false? Or is it all just indicative of the various realty tunnels we create?

Our job is to watch and listen and work with many different people who are touching the elephant in different places. In turn we can share the cumulative wisdom that comes from gathering all those different perspectives our clients have because in turn they are counting on us to help put the jigsaw pieces together – at least enough to  make a little sense out of the big picture.

Remove your blindfolds and embrace the elephant. Wrap your arms around it as wide as you can. We have all met the elephant. It is our clients and by extension, the elephant is us.


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