I've got a proposition for you.

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Steve was dutifully reading his long-anticipated California Presidential Primary Election “Official Voter Information Guide” yesterday, and came across the all-important Proposition 91. This proposition calls for a State constitutional amendment regarding the use of transportation funds, but that isn’t important.

When evaluating how to vote on complex issues of which We the People have little understanding, we routinely refer to the arguments in favor and against which are conveniently presented to us by the “experts” immediately following the 10,000 word, small font legislative description (which we can not understand as we failed to complete our Juris Doctorate course work or don our magic decoder rings this particular day). So, I bring you this, straight from the Information Guide, which should clarify this critical piece of proposed legislation:

Argument in Favor: “As the official proponents of this measure, we are encouraging you to VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 91.”

Argument Against: “No argument against Proposition 91 was submitted.”

Huh? Steve’s response was, “I can’t wait to read Proposition 92!”

Offering a home for sale has become a lot like our beloved Proposition 91 lately. All indications (the yard sign, the Multiple Listing Service entry, the flyers in the flyer pouch) are that the owner wants to sell. Yet, the arguments in favor are confusing and suggest otherwise. These are some of the ways in which you and your agent could be screaming “Vote No!”.

  • Property flyers should not be appear as if they were created with a box of crayons while wearing coordinating oven mitts and then copied on a machine with a depleted ink cartridge.
  • Showing instructions should not involve the imposition of obstacles such as “show only between 1:00 and 1:02 on the New Moon Pisces Rising. Agent must be present. Buyer must be prequalified by Seller’s uncle in Raleigh. Don’t enter garage – Agressive emus may bite.”
  • MLS entries should be written in a widely-recognized language, such as Sanskrit. Or English.
  • Photos should be professional, plentiful, and, preferably, of the home, not of the occupants or of the agent/photographer as reflected in the bathroom mirror.
  • Condition should be ”show ready.” Now would not be the time to experiment with sponge painting, to redecorate in Early Hunting Lodge, or to try that new recipe for Pickled Puffin with Curry Chutney.
  • Price (of course) should be based on actual sales data, market activity and competition, not on a call to the 1-800-Psychic Hotline.

There is nothing new here; we have written about these things repeatedly in the past. My proposition has a new twist. As a seller, it is not you who is to blame but your agent.

All of these mixed messages are ultimately delivered on your behalf by your agent and are within his control. The agent is the “expert” who is responsible for interpreting your needs and presenting the supporting arguments.

I am certain that seven hundred agents are out there right now, arms flailing, hollering, “The seller doesn’t get it! Their price is unrealistic, they didn’t agree to move the sofa (to the landfill), and they won’t allow showings on Monday through Sunday without a presidential pardon!” That very well may be, but then why did you agree to represent them? How can you get everyone to vote “yes” when the proponents are arguing otherwise?

When we “experts” sit down to meet with a client wanting to sell, we have an obligation to honestly advise on pricing and preparation, and in accepting a fiduciary role, we have an obligation to support our client’s proposition to the best or our abilities, with the best marketing, service and counsel we can provide. Sure, we have all lamented, at one time or another, encounters with homeowners who we felt had unrealistic pricing expectations. And, there will always be an agent out there who will ink the listing contract at any price and terms just to get the business, but it doesn’t have to be you.

If you see it as a losing proposition, then don’t accept the assignment. If you accept the job, accept it eyes wide open and don’t proceed to belly-ache about how unenlightened your clients are. You are supposed to be the “expert” who provides the analysis and supports the argument. Take responsibility, and get out and vote!

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