Monthly Archives: August 2011

Behind The Eight Ball

I was taking a stroll down memory lane recently.  A virtual walk where all the warm and fuzzies reside inside my head. My personal version of Mr. Rogers’ Market where it’s always a wonderful day in the neighborhood.

I was recalling the open house “schtick” I used when I first got into real estate.   Back then Agents were fond of serving those little baby quiches at their Sunday opens. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom of the 80’s, Realty Men Did Eat Quiche.  Lots of it.

Other Agents liked to hand out those cute little packages of Forget-Me-Nots. Trying to plant the not so subtle seed of:  “Remember Me!!!! Tell your friends, your relatives and anyone else you ever meet to call me!!!!“ Unless they are already a real estate agent themselves.

We were looking for ice breakers.  Ways to get  prospects to linger and engage.  It was a kinder-gentler era before real estate morphed into an all out assault to wrestle e mail addresses out of anyone with a pulse and plop them into the automated search engine that runs the robo-funnel.

Anyway, I always set out a bowl of Fortune Cookies. No one can resist them.  People would break open those dubiously edible gimcracks just to get a peak at the future.  They got a few crumbs and I got the opportunity to gain stealthy entrance into their brains.  I had a big sign that said: “ You don’t need a fortune to buy this house, but it wouldn’t hurt!”

Hold that thought.

Some years later, I had a client who insisted he had to dream about a particular house first, before he bought it.  The literal interpretation of  a “dream home” I guess.  We waited patiently for weeks until he saw the sign in the night he was looking for.  Must have been the right one because we put an offer in and closed a month later.

Some years after that, I was working diligently with a young couple who came to an interesting standstill in their process. They found two completely different houses they wanted equally as much. They went through an extended routine of mental gymnastics trying to resolve the conundrum.  Finally, they just flipped a coin. It was Abraham Lincoln that gave them the heads up and told them to buy that Eastside bungalow.  And they did.

They should have sold that place a few years later when it had doubled in value. They could have bought the house they really wanted.  Instead they borrowed too many Benjamins on their hell-lock equity line and bought three rentals in the booming subprimeburb of Podunk (a.k.a Dough-Punked).  Long story short, they shoulda’ stuck with Honest Abe’s auguries.   Sometimes a penny is worth more than all your thoughts.

So, here in this time of missed fortunes, lost dreams and great indecision, how do we think our way out of a place where we feel equally pinned between two different sides of the same pair of vise-grips.  To buy or not to buy – that is the question.

When the going gets tough some people turn tail(s) and run the other way.  Others hear the voice of Al Haig in their head(s) claiming he is in full control of the market at the White House.  (Just as scary a thought now as it was then.)

In actuality, it isn’t possible, nor has it ever been possible to buy a house or sell a house or make any other major life transition without taking a leap of faith.  Control is an illusion. Always was. Always will be.  In the end, you may be able to think or feel your way right up to the edge, but you still have to find a way to jump over the abyss.

So here’s the question…which of these do you prefer to put your faith in?  Fate? Luck? Kismet? Divine Intervention? Karma? Cosmic Synchronicity?   In real estate land they are all words for the same thing.  You don’t decide as much as you divine your way forward to the next place – wherever that is.

While you creationists out there are feeling a rush of apoplexy,  I invite the rest of you to sign onto my website and gain some extra insight with my new I PAD Real Estate APP. It is an  Automated Random Fortune Search Engine that will open your chakras and your mind and get your moon into the right house – all at the same time.   Guaranteed to throw the yarrow stalks, flip the coin,  dream the dream, read the signs for you. C’mon folks – time to enable my cookies again.  The Dice Man Cometh.
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Avoid Dance of the Void

How does the quote go?    “ Stare into the void long enough, the void starts staring back.”    Nietzsche, I think.   The patron philosopher of Real Estate. The guy who also said:   “ That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”   No doubt at a time when the uber market was less than robust.

So, in the interest of avoiding the void and plunging deeper than the DOW,  let’s  avert our gaze.  Stop staring so fixedly at the abysmal state of real estate’s big picture.  Do the next best thing – distract ourselves with little stuff.

How about if I recount the shadow inventory of insidious, nagging little fears we Realtors lug around on a daily basis?  That’s right. Don’t let our smooth sales personas fool you. Beneath them, most of us are just quivering masses of euro-like uncertainty. Champion producers of the same paper equity that turned out not to be gold bars in a safety deposit box afterall.

Real Estate – how do I fear thee?  Let me count the ways:

I’m afraid of leaving a zero off a list price.  Happened once. Adverstised a place in Pasatiempo for $140,000 instead of $1,400,000. Ooops.  The phone rang in my ears for days. Suddenly everyone wanted a dream home.

I’m afraid to use my supra lockbox key.   Why?  I know that the battery only lasts for 10,000 lockbox openings.  Died once while I was trying to show a big property to a HNWI (High Net Worth Individual.) Could happen again if one of those HNWIs ever comes around.

I’m afraid of Rottweilers  for obvious reasons. But I’m more afraid of mistakenly letting Fluffy the Lapdog escape  through a sliding glass door left unattended.  Happened once.  A mad dash to freedom tragically turned into coyote bait.

I’m afraid of  people’s  eerie doll and owl collections. But I’m more afraid of a chance encounter with a home full of scary clown paintings. And yes,  I’m afraid of the powerful off-gasses of potpourri.  Specially when used to cover up the far more pervasive presence of 3 month old kitty-litter.

I’m afraid I’ll hear little feet in the soffit areas above the kitchen cabinets.  But I’m more afraid of the sound of dampwood termites chomping behind a shower wall.  (Yes, sometimes you can actually hear them.) Not to mention gopher holes that can take out whole sections of private road.  Oh, and I’m afraid of crickets too.  No, the other kind – the one’s on the roof near the chimney where  it always leaks when it rains,

I’m afraid of the “family expert”  when they provide the down payment to the first time buyers I’m chauffeuring around to those starter shacks .  Waiting to exercise their veto power no matter what the house “majority” decides.

I’m afraid that next “blocked” phone call will be the same client calling for the eighth time today.  Or worse, another cold caller pitching me a website  to replace that miserable excuse that I call a website.

I’m afraid of the neighbor’s chainsaw.  I have recurring nightmares about the Open House Chainsaw Massacre.  Or was that the Open House Leaf Blower Massacre I was dreaming about right before my alarm went off this morning?

I’m afraid of the escrow from hell.  And the homeowners management company from hell.   And dog poop.  And the hysterical effects that a historical designation might have on a Victorian.

I’m afraid of running out of gas.  Of not being able to turn around in a tight driveway.   Of getting lost.  Of pot holes and pot houses.   Leach fields.   Out of town appraisers.  Tar and Gravel.   Lava rock  lawns.   Avocado appliances.  Forgetting a clients name.   Working a calculator in a pinch.  Losing an escrow deposit check.    And T 111 siding.   Did I say out of town appraisers?

I’m afraid of setting off the alarm.  Now knowing a gate code.  Going to the wrong house.  I’m afraid rates will go down after I lock. Or go up before I lock. I’m afraid of being stuck inside of  Boulder Creek with the Capitola blues again.  And an endless funnel full of champagne tastes and beer budgets.

I’m afraid of a full priced offer coming in on the first day  knowing my client will think they listed too low.  And I’m afraid of one more seller saying they are going to put their property on next spring when the market is better. But not as much as I’m afraid of one more buyer saying they are going to wait until next spring when the market is worse.

I’m afraid my head will explode if it gets too busy but not as much as I’m afraid my head will implode if it gets too slow.

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DROP KICKING THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD

Who says there’s no energy in the real estate market right now while the country  waits with (exacer)bated breath for a break in the cloud on title that is hanging over our inalienable right to own and continue to try to own up to our own debt?

Why just this past week, I had three all-cash offers on three different properties! Right across the monopoly board stretching from lowly Baltic Avenue to the far more tawny Marvin’s (former) Garden of Eden.

Unfortunately, there was a slight catch in all of them.  That obscure little box on Page Two of the Residential Purchase Contract was surreptitiously checked.  Guess they thought I’d be so happy to get the offers, I wouldn’t notice.

Ever seen that one?  It’s tucked right in there somewhere between Paragraph 3B, Section 2, Subparagraph 7 and that weird little boilerplate thing about committing your first born. Obscured by all the other brain-numbing minutia cloaked in Realtor-speak laden with Lawyer-ese (also known as Parcel-tongue).

It’s the clause that says:  This offer is (check here in invisible ink) or is not (check here with a real pen) contingent upon buyer winning the lottery prior to close of escrow.

Sorry.  Good try. But not a good bet.  I really honestly appreciate your interest in my listings.  Y’all come back now y’here? Soon as you win that lotto. Tickets are on sale 24/7.  Las Vegas never sleeps. Even while its suburbs are dying on the vine.

Forgive my real estate of procrastination folks.   I’m just trying to amuse you. Take your mind off of anything else you might be tempted to dwell on at the moment.

Like: Help?  Or: Which island-country-market to escape to?  Or: Is there any place on the planet that exists outside of this “thing”?  Where’s the map leading back to the Shire, Frodo?  Where they don’t have to read Sartre in the paper everyday.

Nope. Pull up one of those empty musical chairs folks. We’re not going anywhere anytime soon.  Apparently we’ve got plenty of time to kill.  While the Dow’s round the world yo-yo tricks keep killing us more each day. We’re peddling the stationary bike on the road to nowhere. Lots of rpm’s. No traction.

Excuse my play-by-play commentary but didn’t we just take two steps back and punt the very same can we’ve been nudging forward for the last three years? Hauled off and drop-kicked it out of bounds?  Beyond the horizon of a recognizable recovery?

What’s left to get people moving down the field again? Past the red zone and through the goal post of post-bubble homeownership?

Interest Rates.

Be prepared to hear those two words ad infinitum ad nauseum.  They’re the magic balm. The salve. The one trick left in the dubious bag of stupid Fed tricks.   A Pavlovian response designed to induce consumer salivation and lead real estate back to eventual salvation.

The Fed announced it will keep the overnight rates near zero through mid-2013.

Interest rates.  That’s the good news for today. And tomorrow. And for all the other tomorrows we can envision in lieu of anything more substantial.   The reset button has been pushed on the recovery. Interest rates are the refrain we real estate people won’t be able to restrain ourselves from using.  Interest rates are the silver, gold and platinum lining in that cloud on title, we were talking about.

Weak employment numbers?   Incredible interest rates!   Tons of shadow inventory and toxic paper still piled up in the vaults of banks bigger than they were when they were too big to fail?  Historic interest rates!   Deficit reduction via elimination of the Mortgage Interest Deduction?  But those rates my friends!  Jumbo loan limits headed down?  Interest rates too!  The ongoing credit crunch?  There are low, low interest rates at the end of that water-boarding experience we’ve come to know as the full documentation loan!

I guess I’ll be the spoilsport and ask the obvious question.  If the number of jobs isn’t growing appreciably and the seedy underbelly of the system is still bloated with distress properties  and legislation is gnawing at the remains of the corpus…how is this going to work?

If you can’t afford the payments or qualify for the loan, who cares how low interest rates go? Isn’t that what buyers have been telling us?

And if you are one of those fortunate buyers who can afford the payments and qualify for the loan, but you aren’t worried that price of homes or interest rates are going to go up anytime soon, how motivated are you going to be to get out there and pull the trigger?

Interest rates.  Are we feeling stimulated yet?

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How Low Can We Go?

And the dips just keep on coming…

Turns out this isn’t the Catfish Recovery afterall. One of the creative metaphors swimming around out there. Refers to a real estate market sustaining itself in the murky depths at the bottom of a stagnant pond.

Nah. This is the Baskin and Robbins Recovery.   The one of Double Dips and Great Recessions 2.0.   Do they make triple dip cones?  I scream, you scream, we all scream for …. Neapolitan anyone?

I’m just hoping we don’t go for the Chubby Checker Recovery.   Remember the Limbo Rock? Chubby chuckling  “How low can you go? ”  in demonic undertones.  Participants lined up for St. Vitus gyrations set to an Apocalypso beat.  Trying to  underachieve the continuously lowered bar of their own expectations.   “Great to dance to Dick.  I give it a 9.0 on the Richter Scale.”

Anyway, this is one of those times when real estate throws  “location, location, location” out the window.  Before the window closes .  When’s the last time you heard someone use that sage piece of advice ?  Who cares where you are buying, if you aren’t buying in the first place

The popular corollary to  “location, location, location” has always been: “I’d rather have the worst house on the best block instead of the best house on the worst block.”

Problem is that they all feel like the worst house on the worst block when the shadow inventory of scary “things to come”  looms  larger in the boogeyman-infested closet of our vivid imagination.   Walked through one of those bank-owned distress properties lately?   That awful fishy smell is also a metaphor for the market we’re in.

Ah, the bad good old days before our unrelenting greed got us into trouble.

A rapidly appreciating market cures all ills.  At least for awhile. Tough to make a mistake in a market shooting through the roof.  The choices are simple because the results are either going to be great or less great.

Second story addition?   Go for it.  Spent too much on the remodel?  No problem.  A little appreciation over time covers it.  More termite damage than you anticipated? Last month’s rise makes up the difference.  Flat out bought the wrong place?  Voila!  Just sell it for a profit tomorrow and go pick yourself out a new one in the grand scheme of musical houses.

It’s all good. Or so it seemed…at the TIME.

That’s right. TIME.    The 4th dimension is the operative gambit here.  It’s when that’s most important at this point on the space-time continuum. Not where.  And most people don’t have a clue when to say when –  not knowing whether the market is coming or going.

Instead of shooting through the roof it feels like the market is somehow shooting us all through the foot.  If not here? Where?  If not not now??? See what I mean.

So we are retiring Location x 3. Putting it out to pasture.  Giving it a gold watch and moving it down the list of popular coinages in the realm of real estate.  Looking for a worthy replacement to trot out in its stead to assume the mantle of conventional wisdom.

How about Fear and Greed?  The simple juxtaposition of two seemingly opposite (although both negative) aspects of human nature.  Qualifies as one of the longest running threads in real estate. In almost continuous use since Adam Smith first began strumming our neurons with his “invisible hand” of the marketplace.

But I’m going to simplify things even further since we’re in such a pinch.  Let’s just say that Greed is the FEAR of not having enough.   Make that little alteration in the alliteration and we are simply left with FEAR.  Naked FEAR.  FEAR as the sum of all FEARS.  FEAR that FEARS nothing but itself.   FEAR with a sprig of loathing thrown in like parsley on the side.  FEAR in the time of cholera – or the great flux, as some might say.

There’s a mindfulness meditation certain Buddhist schools practice. In this impasse they might recommend sitting in your real estate office or in your listing or in your car in front of some new place for sale, simply repeating:  “Feeling Fearful. Feeling Fearful.  Feeling Fearful. ”
A worthy mantra. By definition, you can’t repeat a mantra too many times.  That’s the whole point. You’re supposed to keep repeating it over and over again.  Say it loud. Say it often. Say it like you mean it.

Through acceptance rather than denial comes transformation.   Ok. We’re human. We’re feeling fearful.   No judgment.  Just acknowledgement.    Holding it in gives fear life and longevity. When you begin to name that which isn’t supposed to be named, you-know-what’s grip weakens. And we are free to move on.

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Save Us Dick Clark

Awful quiet out there.  You can almost hear a price drop.  In this odd interlude of an impasse that’s been elevated to full celebrity status for maximum dramatic effect and rousing entertainment value.  The economy held hostage – Day 57.   Good news for Fox News Ratings.  Takes Rupert Murdoch’s mind off of Rupert Murdoch’s  own troubles.

As we used to chant in the old days of an earlier baby boom incarnation: ” The Whole World is Watching.”  Not to mention waiting. And probably scratching its head in disbelief over the strange endgame that the Washington Capitals are playing in painful, ultra slow-mo live action.

All eyes are glued to the monitors in the ICU.   Minutes, seconds, hours of  tickertape ticking by.  Readouts from the Dow & the S & P 500 and the Global Futures Market streaming steadily across the screen. Weaving and wandering. Spiking and plunging like the heart rate and blood pressure of a drunken sailor or troubled patient.

We can’t help ourselves.  We are transfixed by the beating pulse and the bouncing ball of those magic numbers.  Even if we don’t quite know what they mean.   No one has written an algorithm for all the algorithms yet.

I’m staring at the monitor right now.  It’s not clear whether there’s enough oxygen getting to John Boehner’s brain.   He may be the House Whip but this isn’t going to whip the market for houses into shape anytime soon. Who’s default is this anyway?

Hopefully the patient won’t expire before the deadline expires…while we are all still standing around talking about him like he’s not even in the room.   Just because he’s unconscious doesn’t mean he can’t hear us.  More anesthesia! Stat!

So the countdown continues.  3 days 13 hours and 15 seconds until our notice of default goes from action to auction. Is this the countdown to a brave new paradigm?   Is the ball in Times Square going to drop in orderly fashion? Or will it come crashing down through the bottomless pit of all the previous debt ceilings?

I’m just praying that Dick Clark will check himself out of the cryogenic lab one more time. Defy the effects of his own recent stroke and come to our rescue at the stroke of midnight.   Make sure that we get one more New Year’s Rockin’ Eve Budget under our belts before we reach the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012.

We’ll know by next week.  And then we can get back to the real, real estate business at hand. The you and me kind.  Like how we can increase  the personal debt ceilings of all those would-be buyers out there.  And how we can increase everyone’s revenue stream without creating new jobs.  All the while making sure that Moodys doesn’t downgrade our FICO scores and increase interest rates.

If the US doesn’t  have to pass muster on a full doc loan, why should the rest of us?   Seems so…un-American.  Making regular folks go through a tortuous water boarding process just to get a loan through those nasty Guantanamo underwriters.

This is the last thing we needed. In the recovery-less realm of our own undiscovered recovery.  Another big excuse in a long line of excuses not to buy or sell.

It’s fascinating to watch.  On one hand, there are lots of Sellers saying:  ” I’m going to wait until next year when  the market is better to put my house on.”  But, Sellers are Sellers. They always say that.

What is different is how many Buyers are intent on sitting it out.  Saying to anyone in shouting distance: ” I’m not going to buy now. I’m going to wait until next year when the market is worse. ”

They can’t both be right. Something’s gotta give.  Or not.

I can’t remember a time when the market was in the clutch of such deep partisan divide.   Sellers.  Buyers.  Republicans. Democrats. Never the twain shall meet? Both jockeying for position while the chasm grows wider?

Last night I dreamt  I was Evil Knievel rising to the occasion once more. Ready to defy death again, all the way from the after-life.  Firing up my rocket-powered Harley for a last crazy attempt to bridge the gap between the two sides of the River Styx.  I was all ramped up. Revved and ready to launch. And then I woke up.

See you on the other side next week sportsfans.

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The Cosmic Tumblers Fall Into Place

A fortuitous week  wandered by this week.  Just when I needed it.  Just when everything I thought I knew about real estate seemed so ill-conceived and out-of-touch.

What a pleasant surprise. That once-familiar feeling of all the cosmic tumblers falling into place.  The window opening.  A fresh ocean breeze blowing in off the Bay.  Reminding me why I love living and working here.  For one brief moment, the biorhythms of the entire planet all jogging peacefully together along the road of life – in complete and utter sync.

Yes, Virginia.  There is a profession called Real Estate.   And it can be a beautiful one.  It is alive and…well…sorta finding its way.  Occasionally Santa does show up in Santa Cruz to bestow the gift of  mindfulness on some of us needy souls effected by the sonorous fugue that’s straining  the collective real estate of mind psyche.

There it was. A blast from the past.  An actual win-win transaction where everybody was ceremoniously left standing, relaxed and happy. Instead of reaching for their blood pressure medication, enrolling in anger-management classes or taking an enforced sabbatical in a decompression chamber or sensory deprivation tank.

We’ve all gotten used to existence in a lose-lose market.  Not even a win-lose market where Buyers are satisfied and Sellers aren’t. Or even a lose-win market that has Sellers doing cartwheels over properties littered with the remains of would-be Buyers.

Nope, this is the market where no matter what a property sells for, Buyers feel like they paid too  much.  And  Sellers?  They got too little no matter what they got.

Lose-lose.  If you’re down long enough, it starts looking like up.  You begin defining good news as the absence of bad news. Like unemployment rising at a slower pace.   Or prices falling less precipitously than they were.

So…yep. This was one transaction where no one lost their home.  There was no pall cast over the proceedings by months and months of some suddenly poor someone struggling to hang onto their crumbling dream castle.

There was no eerie sense of displacement oozing out of the pores in the sheetrock.  That  anti-feng shui effect that washes over you when you visit a home and almost every single thing has lost its sense of place? Leaves a creepy set of karmic cooties in its wake. Even the pest control guys haven’t figured out how to treat them yet.

There was no tortuous short sale subplot here.  No detached first lienholder trying to force a squirrely second lienholder into submission.  No short sale negotiator having to navigate the minefields of a broken system with exacting precision and numbing patience.

No Buyer wrestling their own lender in an exhausting steel cage death match.  The Buyer and Seller agreed on a price and the out of town Appraiser found comps and agreed with them.  It used to be called market value.  Not even a review appraisal. Or a remote viewing desk appraisal from some cube farm in the Midwest populated by men who stare at comps.

The escrow folks were relaxed. No mad rush to tie up loose ends. No strange title twists. No friction between agents.  No odd what-ifs popping up in the inspections.  No litigation in the Homeowners Association.

Everybody was just happy.  I confess to being a little out of sorts.  I was gearing up for another knock down drag out.  Gritting my teeth.  Trying to get into the painful grin and bear it mode that passes for real estate zen these days.

But the Buyer and the Seller each, almost perfectly seamlessly, got to where they were trying to get to. Namely the next stage in their lives.  You know, like in the old fairy tale world of real estate.  People making life transitions – moving up, moving down, changing jobs, getting older, having twins, getting married.

The Buyers had to compete but they didn’t mind because they had 7 offers on their house. And the Buyer for their place had just taken a great new job in Silicon Valley and got the house he wanted in the right school district.

So let’s see…  there was the Buyer of the Buyer’s house.  The Buyer. The Seller .  The house the Seller bought.  The Seller of that house. And the  Seller of the house that that Seller bought. If we aren’t careful,  this kind of thing could catch on.  Like some kind of benevolent virus or something.   Infecting the market with all kinds of positive momentum.  Before you know it…everyone could be buying and selling houses

I’m not one of those agents who thinks that the entire market has turned around just because they closed one escrow that week. But indulge me please. Let me ride the short term high for just another few days or so.

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Through a Fogged Mirror Darkly

More meditations on the ubiquitous “open house”.  The love/hate staple of real estate that gets trotted out each weekend with over-seasoned regularity.  Whether we really want them. Or need them. Or not.

Sellers have an exceedingly ambivalent relationship with them.  They hate opening their lives. Putting their privates on display.  But how do you sell a house no one can see?  Some Agents hate open houses too. They do them to humor Sellers who hate having them but insist on having them nevertheless.

Other Agents love open houses.  They represent the promise of new leads, new contacts, new clients. Specially when so much new business (in the form of actual buyers with the ability to fog a mirror and qualify for a loan) seems to have gone AWOL for the foreseeable past and future.

Calls into question the whole purpose behind open houses.  Do they exist to please Sellers going through the motions?  Do they exist to please Agents with secondary agendas? Do they exist to provide simulated reality-show entertainment for lookey loos checking out how the other half of the 99.9% live?  Do they actually exist to sell houses at all?

I don’t know. Yes. No. Maybe. Chalk it all up to an existential morass that may never get unmucked.

Hey, the good news is that without all the open house ads in today’s paper, there wouldn’t be a little corner of the real estate section for Real Estate of Mind to snuggle up in.

Maybe we should all be resting on the 6th and 7th days. But rest-assured there’ll be a cadre of the usual agent-suspects out there today and tomorrow.  Pounding the neighborhoods. Propping up those rickety plastic signs on street corners.  Fluffing the auras on all those tired-looking distress properties or those over-staged museum pieces that evoke the surreal air of Martha Stewart shopping at Crate and Barrel pumped up on steroids.

If you want a great visual of an open house routine, watch American Beauty – the Oscar-winning film from 1999.   The part where Annette Bening  scrubs the grout between the tiles on the kitchen counter with a tooth brush and lights those ticky-tacky Tiki Torches in the sad-looking backyard she’s trying to hype as a lush tropical paradise.

Years ago, while sitting an open house in Aptos, I  had one of those unexpected moments of clarity  that  floats out of the ether and into one’s skull  from time to time.  An epiphany as it were.  A small window of light that illuminates some dark corner of the mostly unknowable real estate universe.

It was back in the oh-so-slow days of the early 90’s. The one’s we thought would never end. Until they did. With an infusion of internet frenzy coming out of Silicon Valley starting in 1995.  (Hang in there folks this too shall pass.)

There I was, my rear end parked on someone elses’ couch. One that was clearly more accustomed to providing for its owners cheeky comfort. Not a great fit. Or ergonomically correct. But just one more reason why we supposedly undereducated, overpaid professionals continue to garner the big bucks.  Call it an occupational hazard.

I noticed a strange fluctuating pattern.  First one person would come in, look around  and pronounce in no uncertain terms that I was practically giving the house away.  Then another person would come in and announce with equal vehemence that the place was decidedly overpriced.  This continued on and off, off and on the entire afternoon until my head was spinning in circles. Doing 360’s like Linda Blair on steroids watching Martha Stewart shop at Crate and Barrel.

I didn’t know what to think. And then it hit me with riveting force and gut-wrenching realization.  The first people were all the neighbors worried about their own property values. Dreading to see what the market value would turn out to be on their own nearest comp.

The second people were the pseudo-buyers. The sorta, kinda getting-ready-to-buy-any-year-now philanderers.  On a mission.  Trying to erode the certainty of listing Agents. Soften the prices up on all those places they might someday consider buying.

As though it really was/is the Agent’s own house. As those it really was/is the Agent’s decision where to price it. As those it really was/is the Agent who was going to buy it in the end.   Instead of it being that big old mysterious market out there. Full of buyers and sellers and agents and the entire cast of characters just doing their thing. Just like the market always does its thing.

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