Blowing My Other Cover

It’s been a while since a column generated as many e mails from fellow-agents, as last week’s.  Must have touched a chord. Or discord? An exposed nerve? An erogenous zone connected to the love/hate relationship we all have with what we do?   Maybe I inadvertently hit upon one of those odd funny bone moments. You know the one’s that make you laugh in spite of the fact that they really hurt?

If any of you were remiss in your required real estate reading and want to catch up on your home-work….go to and  read  “Blowing My Cover.”

Here’s the basic premise:  Most good old fashioned real estate advertising is designed to shape how Sellers think about Selling rather than how Buyers think about Buying.   Although we have to tread carefully here, because eventually all buyers become sellers and all sellers become buyers.

But it is interesting to note how short memory spans can be. And how many people like to practice the “do as I say not as I do” method of selective recall.

Classic example?  Sellers, selling here,  also looking for a property in Hawaii.  They log on everyday to look at homes in Maui. They have an Agent there and are on his automated search engine. Whenever they see something that strikes their fancy – they e mail him.

But  here in good ol’ Surf City USA,   where they are trying to sell, they want their Agent to advertise in the Mercury or the Chronicle at great expense.  Or run fancy, color spreads in magazines. Or…run a big Featured Home Ad in the Sentinel (oops… don’t look now…I think I just blew another cover.)

Don’t recall too many people here subscribing to the Honolulu Times-Picayune so they could hunt for real estate in Hawaii and say “Aloha” to the market there.

We aren’t even going to get into the absurdity of listing a house here with an over the hill Agent (I mean over the hill in the geographical sense – not over the hill as in the success-challenged and seen-better-days kind.)   The huge leap of sur-real logic it takes to list with a Santa Cruz property with a South Bay Agent who doesn’t know squat about our home turf is perfect fodder for another column on another day.

As is one of those other long-hyped myths of realty – the notion that somehow a mediocre Agent working at a giant brokerage can represent you better than a good Agent working at a smaller brokerage can.

And as long as we are at it…let’s toss one more myth-ing urban link onto the bonfire of the sanities: The notion that a vast network of personal contact exists between big city Agents within the framework of mega-national real estate franchises.  Secret handshakes and everything. When you sign on, your home is spoon fed to tens of thousands of Realtors waiting with bated breath to sell your property.

Just like most real estate advertising is designed to sell the sellers on the sell rather than the buyers on what’s being sold… the sell underlying most of the sales pitches from the big guys revolves around the subtle promotion of  Dual Agency.

As in:  List with us. We have a lot of Agents. One of them probably already has a buyer for your home.   Those who aren’t quite sure what Dual Agency is might want to google it and decide whether you think it is a good idea.

Darn! I’ve been yacking away so much our time is up.  Not to worry though, Sherman has been warming up the Way Back Machine.  Next week we’ll jump on board, travel to the fin de siècle era of the 1990’s and see what changed while all us aging baby boomer analogue types were struggling to get across the great digital divide.


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