Relatively Speaking

RRRMeetingEvery few months, I get a call from one of my out-of-town relatives who’s got a house problem, market question or sales snafu.  Somehow they’ve found time to squeeze ten minutes out of their busy schedule to call at 10pm and tap the font of realestate knowledge they imagine bubbling up from my brain.
 
Near as I can tell, they figure pearls of wisdom shoot out of the top of my skull with the regularity of Old Faithful. Showering anyone within earshot with insight. Yes sir, 24/7/365, I’m ready, willing and able to bestow sage advice on all thirsty pilgrims who make the long journey through the fiber optic lines.
 
But I assure you, I’m no modern day Oracle of Delphi. Or even the dial-up equivalent of Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Hotline . I don’t live or work in Iowa or Connecticut and my crystal ball doesn’t tell me much about those places.
 
I do know I’m not living in Kansas but I don’t really have a clue about the state of the market in Austin or Boise. Even if my relatives do figure: “It’s all just real estate isn’t it?”
 
It’s family right? Dutifully, I try to fluff my font each day along with my aura, so no one swimming in or around my gene pool will be disappointed.
 
Here’s the problem…every time one of my relatives calls, they inevitably seek advice in lieu of actually soliciting the advice of a reputable Realtor in their own backyard. Their slightly fractured logic goes something like this:
 
“Maybe I can save a money by not paying Realtor fees. I don’t know what I’m doing but I can call Cousin, Brother, Nephew, Uncle, Son-In-Law Tom and get a ten minute primer on all things real estate.”
 
A cliff-notes version of Real Estate for Dummies: “It really shouldn’t take long to grasp what all those Realtors do to make that easy money. It’s a little legalese and the rest just falls into place. Doesn’t it?”
 
Sometimes I wonder who the dummy really is. Am I wearing a big sign on my back at family reunions that says “Expert Realtor – call when you don’t want to use a Realtor but need a Realtor?”
 
Other professionals probably recognize the symptoms. Somehow free advice you give out at a party is better than the logic you dispense at theoffice. If you aren’t in your office, it’s not like you are really working is it?
 
We are all capable of getting five minute renditions of the facts prior to making instant diagnosis’ or recommendations that cover all the variables and possible outcomes of complex situations – aren’t we?
 
The real kicker comes when one of my relatives calls to get two hours worth of ten minute advice and then in the end, they ignore it all because, almost without exception, I recommend they get a Realtor to represent them and pay what it costs.
 
They call. I talk. They shoot themselves in the foot. And they don’t hesitate to call again. Go figure.
 
Honestly, I have no problem with people saving money. I do have a problem when it ends up costing them far more than it saves just so they can feel the strange drug-like euphoria that comes when they think they’ve gotten a bargain.
 
So I’m hereby putting out a call to all my family members and I’m encouraging all you other Realtors to do the same at your own dysfunctional family functions. I’m advising them to give up their flea market, yard sale, Craig’s List, I’ll-drive-across-town-to-save-a-buck mentality – when it comes to something as important as a home they are buying or selling.
 
If they want to buy or sell an old couch – they should go for it and indulge themselves with a passion. If they have to set firm boundaries for themselves they should draw the line at anything that costs more than a hundred thousand dollars and call it tough love.

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