Solid Ted?

I’ve been churning out this stream of consciousness called Real Estate of Mind for a long time now.  This past week,  I received the highest form of praise  I could ever aspire to… a local Realtor wrote:  “Your article on that over-the-hill agent was so funny, I blew coffee through my nose.”

A response that visceral and an image that graphic, exceeds all the right-on’s,  atta-boy’s, knowing smiles and mini-revelations my missives have coaxed out of you readers these last 13 years, by a factor of 10.  Thank you. I mean it. Blowing coffee through the nose.  It simply doesn’t get any better than that.

And while pausing for further commercial interruption in the middle of my own “advertorial” let me remind those who have gently complained about the small type –  log onto my blog with your morning coffee. You can OD on my real estate rants with whatever font size your aging eyes require.  Barring that, I have a new Promo Product to offer up. It’s a refrigerator magnet that doubles as a handy magnifying glass.  Helps you see and read the big picture of real estate.  It’s free to the first seven e mailers. After that, you have to list your house with me in order to get one.

But back to Tales of the Trenches….

There I was this week.  I got a call on a listing I just put into escrow.  It was on for $825,000 and after three weeks of the market’s coy flirtations and tiresome testing from  inveterate tire-kickers,  I listened to my own advice.  I encouraged my client to lower the price. Funny what even a small reduction can do sometimes.  Here was a discouraged Seller who had already concluded his property would remain unappreciated by buyers for all eternity. And then? Voila!

Four offers in three days. Full price. Qualified borrowers. Short contingencies. What more could one ask?  As usual, once the listing went into escrow,  the calls started. Agents representing Johnny-come-lately Buyers, who didn’t quite want it badly enough before. Those buyers content to keep circling around, doing their drive-bys, until the exact moment that mysteriously occurs when some other buyer steps up to ‘carpe diem’ the deal.  Translation: Homes are more desirable when you can’t have them.

So here’s the operative real estate phrase for the week:  Whenever an Agent calls another Agent about a house that has just gone into escrow, they ask:  “How’s the offer? Is it solid?”

Solid.  Hmm.  I have to admit, that there was a time when I would have answered that question unthinkingly. Without hesitation. Sure. Of course. Multiple offers. Full price. Qualified buyers.  Yatta Yatta.

But this time, that question stopped me in my tracks. I was momentarily stunned. Speechless. A flood of conflicting thoughts inside my head came cascading like a tsunami carrying all the dashed hopes and detritus and collective residue of all the DFTs (Deal Fell Throughs) accumulated over these last few years, while the real estate process has been turned upside-down and inside-out.

Does anybody really know what solid means anymore in this new day and new age when  every nuance of escrow is harder and almost every single thing takes longer than you thought it would?  “New and unimproved” as a one colleague says.  Is there anything close to unity and community of purpose or a sense of  ‘solidarity’ in real estate today?

Right now, realty looks like the rest of reality does when you get the big electron microscope out and peer closer. All those ‘real’ things that look so solid on the surface prove to be just a bunch of crazy mixed-up atoms, wandering in space, a slam-dance of chaos crowded onto the moshpit floor. Connections are tenuous. Always changing. Hard to tell how “it” all fits together. Or if “it” can stay together long enough.

No one is skating though escrow these days.  The ice is thin and far from solid. Hans Brinker’s golden skates got pawned. All us little Dutch boys are busy plugging holes in the dykes.

Are qualified buyers really qualified when it comes to the full doc, give-us-your-first born credit crunch?  Will that cut-rate appraiser hired by the AMC come down from Fremont and ding the value of the house even after it has been negotiated down $75k? If he doesn’t, is there a review appraiser at a desk somewhere in Des Moines ready to trip the trap door in this huge game of Chutes and Ladders? Will buyers be able to contain their own remorse and resist the temptation to renegotiate the price based on some red-flagged, red herring of an inspection non-issue? Will the other Agent’s brain implode trying contain his own buyer’s behavior?

Solid Ted? Naw. Nuff said.


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