Monthly Archives: October 2012

 Buyers and Agents….The Tipping Point

An Agent called the other day asking about a new listing. A problematic property – failed septic, tree roots pushing up the foundation and well issues – low GPM’s and a high coliform count.

Of course, given all of the above (lying below the surface) I’d priced it accordingly. To the uninitiated, on the receiving end of  all those search engine funnels, the price seemed mighty attractive – at first glance.

So, I was getting lots of calls from Agents with clients looking for one of those proverbial million-to-one-shots. The diamond in the rough that would scratch their champagne itches in spite of their red bull budgets.

The Agent was energetic. Asked the right questions. Wondered if I could e mail 160 pages of inspections, so he could review them.  Said it sounded like something his clients might like and declared he was going to show it.

Standard real estate conversation number #37.  Right out of the Agent’s Handbook.  So far so good.

But before he hung up, there was a long pause.  The timbre of his voice changed. A strange alternate personality seemed to emerge out of nowhere.

Unbeknownst to me, we had reached a tipping point.  Suddenly he confessed that he had shown these same clients 67 properties in the last year and he didn’t have a clue what they wanted.  He said he felt like he was driving them randomly around the County.  Chasing his tail. Hoping to impress them with his willingness to commit lots of time to their increasingly vague cause.

Wow.  My first thought was: This guy’s in trouble.  Not a good sign when an Agent counts the number of properties they’ve shown clients or keeps track of the number of months it’s been.

Something’s seriously out of whack.  Either the clients don’t have a clue what they want,  Or they are trying to work out deep-seeded relationship issues by looking at houses. Or the Agent has drifted into a role as codependent enabler of the dysfunction.  We’ve all been there, done that.

Oddly, my second thought was:  Maybe this is why the traffic on Hwy 1  keeps getting worse even though there are less jobs and a lot less people shopping and spending money. All of those cars are full of Agents driving people around looking at properties they aren’t going to buy!  Mystery solved.

A few months ago,  I published a list entitled: As a listing agent you know you are in trouble when…

Perhaps it’s time for another.  Here goes. As a Buyer’s Agent, you know you are in trouble when:
– Your client doesn’t want to waste his time getting pre-approved.

– Your clients buy you a case of wine before they’ve actually bought a house.

– Your clients insist you should only show them houses  they want to buy.

– Your clients have been looking at houses for 2 years and now they want to buy land and build for $500k.

– You are only a week into the short sale and your clients are already climbing the walls in frustration.

– Your client is pulling the same properties off the search engine that you looked at together a year ago.

– The husband refuses to look at any properties until the wife finds one she might like.

– The parent providing the downpayment gift lives in Iowa and will make the final decision.

– Your client keeps calling listing agents directly telling them you are too busy to show the house.

– Your client wants to quadruple app and squeeze the lowest interest rates out of an unsuspecting loan broker.

– Your client immediately wants to offer $100k less on any property just reduced by $50k.

– You find the perfect property but your client refuses to enter a multiple offer situation on principle.

– Your clients argue about who is going to sit in front every time they get in the car.

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Yogi is My Yogi

I’m wracking my brain. Looking for one simple expression that comes within a few million miles of explaining this “thing” to you.

This thing Realtors know painfully well but can’t quite describe. This thing anyone who has recently bought or sold a house knows but probably wants to forget as quickly as possible.

This odd place real estate has stumbled into. This dream it has woken up in. This brave new world getting more scary all the time. The unintelligible intelligence that has hijacked real estate. The non-process that has absconded with the process and won’t let it go. Or flow.

I don’t mean one transaction. I mean almost all of them. The whole kit and kaboodle. Sucked into the same void that grabs socks between the time they go into the washer and don’t come out of the dryer.

Welcome to escrow. The new and unimproved version. A discombobulated dimension of realty where transactions don’t exactly go to die – just to get stuck in, Drag on, in a bone-numbing, torturous drip of endless delays-without-closure.

What do we call this period between when escrows are supposed to close and when they actually do close? We need a word for it now that these interminable intermezzos are the rule rather than the exception.

Escrow Bardo? The Never-Ending Denouement? Purgatory? FUBAR? Twilight Zone? Extra Innings? Overtime? Real estate held hostage – Day 382. We’re in a sudden death play-off game that doesn’t end.

Honest. The old notion of Close of Escrow (COE in Realtor-speak) was something you could pretty much rely on. It wasn’t liquid. Or gas. It was a solid you held in your head.

There was a contract. Buyer and seller signed it. A point was picked on the horizon. Wheels were put into motion. And voila – the deed would record and money would change hands. The buyer of the house became the owner. And the seller? A former owner.

Now COE is a fuzzy and amorphous concept. A moving target. Constantly moving backwards in time that is. When will a particular escrow really close? That’s usually anybody’s guess. And I mean everyone’s.

We Realtors are trying to have a real estate market here. Escrow officers and loan brokers are on board. Doing their part. What happened?

Apparently the underbelly of the beast known as underwriting didn’t get the memo. Or they got the memo and lost it. Or they got the memo, but the “team” lost their jobs last week. Now we have to send another memo to the new team. Or they got that memo but we need to verify that we’ve insured the memo for the third time. Or we have to certify in a separate memo that it was really us that sent the first memo now lost. And that needs to be a non-faxed, non-scanned memo with wet signatures delivered in person on bended knees, Handed to the processor who will move it along to the closer who will run it by the committee who will assign it to the great decider-er for a really quick turnaround.

The system is in the throes of a grand mal. I’d love to explain it to you but I’m waiting for someone to explain it to me first.

In the meantime all I can do to assuage my own confusion is summon the wisdom of Yogi Berra (Mr. Malaprop) to make sense out of the avalanche of malaproperty-isms we are experiencing. Yogiisms are just about the only things that do make sense in this impasse.

Try this one: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Or: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” And… “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Me? I’m sticking with this one: “I wish I had an answer because I’m tired of answering the question.”

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