Monthly Archives: November 2011

Channeling my Inner Gekko

C’mon fellow Realtors.  Fess up.  Who doesn’t relapse into moments of fond reverie for those thrilling days of yesteryear ?   When greed was good. Liars loans were handed out like Halloween candy.  Transactions flowed like manna from heaven.

I catch glimpses of my inner-Gekko staring at me in the mirror sometimes.  He whispers naughty things .  He wants me to get up in front of all those Buyers on the fence and exhort them to get off their butts. Step up. Grab those low interest rates.

Wouldn’t a little bit of greed (for lack of a better word) do us all a lot of good in this impasse? Money can’t wake up if fear never sleeps.

But apparently, some Buyers aren’t ready to “buy in.”  They want to play the part without actually having to consummate the act – no matter how low rates and prices limbo down.  Content to reside safely in the bosom of their own fear.

The best way to avoid risk?   Call your worst fears something else.  Circumvent them in advance.  Make sure you always have a back door open so nothing continues to happen. Today’s Buyers have designed some incredibly creative hedges for the fearful baggage they’re dragging around:

BENEATH THE MEANS TIDE:  Get pre-qualified. Decide to buy $100k below that, just to be “safe.” Don’t worry, you won’t find any champagne on the beer budget you have.

DOWN-SIZE ME:   Leave a smaller footprint.  2br/2ba/1100 sq ft w/ 3 kids.  Keep trying houses on for size with that mental shoehorn. You want to save the planet but not at the expense of your sanity.

LIVE FOREVER:  A great ploy.  Resolve to live the rest of your life in the next home you buy.  It has to cover all contingencies until you die.  Relax. You’ll never find it.

THE IDEAL DEAL:  Make a list of 100 priorities.  Perfection for $500k. 3 bedrooms. Total privacy. Move-in condition. Huge lot. Great views.  You can stall forever because it ain’t there.

THE WORLD IS MY OYSTER: Bonny Doon to Rio Del Mar, rural to city, big to small, make your search parameters so broad that neither you or your Agent will ever zero in on something that fits your fuzzy needs.

BAIT YOUR SWITCH: Find your perfect replacement property first. Then put your house on the market.  Make a low contingent offer. The odds are in your favor that nothing will happen.

SHORT STUFF: Get into a short sale to make you feel like a real Buyer. Get out anytime.  Could take months to even get a first response.  No pressure to perform here.

NON-COMPETE CLAUSE: Vow not to participate in any multiple offers  – “on principle.”  Take it as a personal offense to a Buyer in a Buyers Market. If anything really good comes on, you are already out of the running.

WAITING GAME GAMBIT: Sit and wait for price reductions.  Wait. Wait. Wait.  Not doing something can easily be construed being “active” in this kind of market.

THE LOW BLOW: Wait until a big juicy price reduction arrives. Then offer $100k less the next day.  They’re sure to reject your offer.

THE CHINA SYNDROME:  Arm yourself with every economic factoid your analysis-paralysis can muster. When the right house arrives, simply cite currency pressures from the Yuan and blow the deal out of the water.

GROUND MEAT:   In case you actually find yourself in escrow, better have an exit strategy.  There is always an excuse to get out but it’s embarrassing to make an excuse that everyone knows is an excuse.  Better to grind on inspection issues. Big. Small. Just keep grinding until the Seller says good bye instead of good buy.


If It’s All About the Bread, Then You Are Already Toast

First, this week’s obligatory pre-ramble:

Real Estate – it’s not a job. It’s an adventure.

If you don’t see it that way, odds are you aren’t going to last more than a few months in the trenches. And you certainly won’t make it out of the deep end of an escrow alive.

If you don’t find a way to embrace all the strange, quirky, funny, contradictory things – big and little – that this business tosses into your lap, you’re destined to become one very angry, frustrated and unhappy soul. Convinced that the universe and everyone in it is conspiring to make life more miserable and infinitely more difficult for you.

And if you do happen to be a brand new Realtor and are starting out thinking this is all about the bread…then you are already toast. You just don’t know it yet.

My suggestion? Put a bumper sticker that reads Keep Real Estate Weird, right next to the vanity license plate on your BMW. Thank the mysterious fates that led you to the golden grail of your Realtor lapel pin. Revel in the daily events that allow such intimate access and startling glimpses into the good, bad and ugly of people’s hopes and fears. Approach every bump in the road with beginner’s mind. View each as invitation to explore the inexhaustible repertoire of interesting human tricks that resides in the busy intersection between real life and real estate.

And now, on to this week’s real estate of mind game. It’s a kind of neuroplasticity exercise …called complete the phrase. Keeps your brain from fossilizing into a rigid status quo. Agents, feel free to jump in and add your suggestions. Just e mail them to me and I’ll make sure they see the light of print, somehow, someday.

As a Listing Agent you know you are in trouble when….? (Where to start, so many answers, so few column inches?)

As a Listing Agent I know I’m in trouble when my client scrunches up her face and says: “ We don’t really have to have a for sale sign or a lockbox do we?”

I’m in trouble when my clients says: “Oh, did I forget to mention that old gasoline tank that’s under the driveway, when we filled out those disclosure forms?”

I’m in trouble when my client says: “ You’ll make sure that none of my nosey neighbors comes in during the Open House right?”

I’m in trouble when there are five cats licking their chops every time the door opens and my client says: “Make sure you don’t let any of my cats out. I’ll die if anything happens to one of them.”

I’m in trouble when I notice my client has a blocked number and she doesn’t seem to have any qualms about calling me five times a day.

I’m in trouble when the first emergency call at ten o’clock at night is: “ The flyer box out front is empty!”

I’m in trouble when the list of fixtures that my client wants to remove from the house seems to keep growing.

I’m in trouble when my client starts correcting the punctuation in my full page ads.

I’m in trouble when a full price, all-cash offer comes in the second day and my client’s first response is: “ I knew you priced it too low.”

I’m in trouble when we get our first offer after three months and my client asks: “ Do you think we can put him off for a few weeks while we wait to see what else comes in?”

I’m in trouble when we are already 10 days into escrow before my client happens to mention: “ You know, I’ve been thinking that I’d really like a 90 day rent back. They won’t mind will they?”