Remember those crazy bull markets of yester-lore? Late 80’s? 1999? 2004 to 2006’s non-stop, over-the-top, shop-till-you-drop midnight of madness? Homes as cash cows? Free money handed out like Halloween Candy? Equity lines falling into everyone’s laps like manna from heaven?
There was always some new version of the same old same old bad Realtor joke floating around out there. Infinite variations on a theme. Some little twist on the conventional wisdom that figured Agents had it way too easy and didn’t really have to work for a living.
What were the two requirements for success in real estate? 1) Showing up. 2) Having a pulse. Why did Realtors get the big bucks? Easy. They were smart enough to answer the phone, chew gum and fog a mirror all at the same time.
Those escrows just kinda closed themselves right? Automated-search engines. Automated-underwriting. A market full of Buyers and Sellers on auto-pilot. Practically landing themselves in all those new houses.
Show a few properties. Write a few offers. And then… Sayonara! See you all after the sign-off. Call me when the deed records. And that big Commission Check is ready at the Title Company.
Don’t hear that kind of snarky talk much anymore. Now that buyers remorse has become a matter of course. Now that so many escrows aren’t over until they’re over. Now that so many loan processes feel like a not-quite-what-you-bargained-for water-boarding experience at a Guantanamo theme park.
Now that so often, just when the fat lady is clearing her throat getting ready to sing, some totally improbable, completely unexpected, fluke out of the blue happens, causing the whole game to slip into the interminable limbo of extra innings. Leaving players’ jaws open in a state of suspended animation. Throttled with frozen disbelief. Numbed by the sheer absurdity of it all.
In the back of our minds we’ve always known that control is an illusion. But it took a marketplace full of too many short sale transactions and bank owned properties to teach us beyond a shadow of a debt that control is a delusion. The banks’ control of the process is completely out of our control.
In today’s new and unimproved real estate it is difficult to find any kind of closure. Most of the time our clients start out thinking they’re running a 400 meter race. Long but not too long. Tough but not impossible. We get them started. We coach them along. They enter the altered estate of escrow at some point in time. And then things really get strange.
Suddenly the fates and fortunes and futures of real people are delivered into the vise-like grip of unintelligible corporate processes fubar-ed by the overlay of unintelligible government regulations. The epitome of everything that’s wrong with decision by committee, collective conspiracy and the over-arching confederacy of dunces.
We ride out each day during our clients’ contingency periods ready to tilt at windmills. Do battle against ghosts in the machine. In the end, we are often relegated to the roll of glorified cheerleaders. Handing exhausted buyers and sellers water bottles and platitudes from the sidelines while their short runs turn into marathons that become super marathons before they’re all over.
“The end is in sight. We’re almost there. It’s always darkest before the dawn. The farther away you feel, the closer you really are. We’re heading into the home stretch now.”
Funny how a simple transaction between a real live seller and a real live buyer is now referred to as an “organic” sale in the vernacular of real estate. Sure organic sales, like some organic foods can be a bit messy at times. They’re not always pretty. But organic sales sure leave a better taste in your mouth than the overly processed kind.