Every few months, I get a call from one of my out-of-town relatives with a house problem or a sales snafu. They’ve found the opportunity to squeeze ten minutes out of their busy schedule to call at 10pm, hoping to tap the font of real estate wisdom they imagine bubbling out of the top of my skull.
Yes sir, 24/7/365, I’m always ready to bestow the gift of sage advice and real estate blessings on family pilgrims making the long journey through the fiber-optic lines. Even though I don’t work in Connecticut. And even though my crystal ball doesn’t tell me much about life in Kansas. And even though I don’t really have a clue about the state of the market in Austin. And even if they figure: “It’s all just real estate isn’t it?”
But hey, it’s family right? Dutifully, I try to fluff my font each day so that no one swimming in or around my gene pool will ever be disappointed. The moral? When the going gets tough, the not-so-tough will get phoning and we Realtors have to learn to go with the flow – relatively speaking, of course.
So here’s the problem…every time a relatives calls, they inevitably seek advice in lieu of actually soliciting advice from a reputable Realtor
in their own back yard. Their fractured logic goes something like this: “Maybe I can sell this house and save a bunch of money by not paying Realtor fees. I’ll call Cousin, Brother, Nephew, Uncle, Son-In-Law Tom and get a ten minute primer course on all things real estate. Sort of a Cliff Notes version of Real Estate for Dummies. It shouldn’t take long to grasp what Realtors do to make all that easy money.”
Sometimes I wonder who the dummy really is. Sometimes I wonder if I have a big sign on my back at family reunions that says “Expert Realtor – call me whenever you don’t want to use a Realtor but need a Realtor. The kind you would actually have to pay for if he weren’t your relative.”
The real kicker happens when one of my relatives calls and I give him/her about two hours worth of ten minute advice and then in the end, they simply ignore it all because, almost without exception, I recommend that they get a good 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 the next time. Go figure.
Honestly, I have no problem with my relatives saving money. I have a problem when it ends up costing them far more than it saves just so they can achieve the drug-like euphoria that comes from feeling like they got a bargain.
I’ve finally decided that I’m going to put out a call of my own to anyone related to me by blood or marriage. I’m to ask them to give up their flea market mentality – when it comes to something as important as a home they are buying or selling. If it’s an old couch they are buying or selling – fine – I’ll encourage them indulge themselves with a passion. But only if they draw the line at anything that costs more than a hundred thousand dollars. I’m going to call it my version of “tough love”.