Pick one – The Laws of Distraction


Things seem to have gotten a little busier over the past couple of weeks, which has forced me to put my Yahoo! takeover plans on hold, at least temporarily. I have raised $6.87 so far which, I am proud to say, was procured entirely from the bottom of the washing machine tub, leaving a vast world of potential venture capital untapped.

It’s hard to plan the takeover of a Fortune 500 company when you have a job. Doing one thing very well is challenging enough; attempting to conquer on multiple fronts can tend to compromise your effectiveness in any one discipline. Ask Warren Buffet. No, wait, bad example. But then, he has “people.”

I have people, too. And it is these people, who are now in high school, who first helped me come to the realization that part-time work can often mean not only that you are working part of the time but that you are working with part of your potential. I am not speaking of the clock in and out job, one that is finished when you are finished, but of the career.

Prior to entering the exciting world of real estate, I was a traffic engineer. (Clearly, I am attracted by the sexier professions.) During my transitional years, between worrying about moving cars and  moving families, I became a dabbler of sorts. I dabbled in engineering consulting, and I dabbled in parenting. I didn’t set out to be a dabbler. Rather, I fully intended to excel at both. On one afternoon, however, I found myself at a conference room table with a hungry and vocal five-month-old tucked beneath my chair. Unfortunately, I was seated among a half-dozen full-time real estate developers of the male variety, none of whom had their own bundle of joy in tow and all of whom had wives. In all fairness to everyone present, including the one wearing the Huggies, I realized it was time to “pick one.”

The Laws of Distraction

In real estate, there are two kinds of dabblers. There are the part-time agents, of course, who are in their own transitional years. The licensed agent does not have a traditional employer nor the promise of a bi-weekly pay check, and the new agent is initially a debt center. This realty forces many aspiring agents into the role of part-timer. In addition to practicing real estate, they are also coffee baristas and teachers, they are plumbers and window washers, and they are mortgage brokers.

This distracted agent, when compared to the full-time agent, the one entirely immersed and committed to their profession, is going to be less effective; the Laws of Distraction dictate this. They may know a little about a lot of things or a lot about a few, but they will bring an incomplete skill set to the closing table.

The other kind of dabbler we see in real estate is the consumer. Children of the information age and armed with an Internet connection, they are coffee baristas and teachers, they are doctors and scientists, and they are planning on buying or selling a home. Unless they are in a position to quit their day job, they will ultimately need assistance to achieve the best possible results.

It is when the Laws of Attractive bring these two together that the Laws of Distraction can wreak havoc. Much like multiplying two fractions results in a smaller fraction yet, two dabblers can not make a whole. The consumers “leg work” can not compensate for the agent’s shortcomings, and to rationalize otherwise is dangerous. Even if that was not true, why would you, a consumer with nearly unlimited choices, ever consider settling for a fraction of the whole?

While many agents like to argue that the part-time agents are diminishing in number due to the challenging nature of our current real estate market, I am not seeing this in our local San Diego market. On the contrary, I am seeing more fragmentation. Market share is becoming a concept without definition. Why is that? Instead, I will tell you why that shouldn’t be: The Laws of Distraction. Things both the home buyer and seller care about are things that the full-time, totally devoted agent will bring to the equation more often and to a greater extent than their multi-tasking, part-time counterpart. It can’t be any other way.

Knowledge of contracts and disclosures, of situational transaction nuances and negotiating strategies, of market dynamics and local area trends, of available technologies and marketing opportunities, and of hyper-local issues such as schools and floor plans and subdivision characteristics is only a partial list. As a buyer or seller, on which of these are you willing to compromise? More importantly, why would you ever be willing to compromise? When considering an agent to represent you, before you pick one, make sure they have picked “one.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: Teo (Agesci Lodi)

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