We have been busy. Marketing busy, negotiating busy, but mostly a whole lotta spin-our-wheels busy. Thus is the glamour of real estate. And, speaking of glamour, it just occurred to me that two of our last five posts here have dealt with the fascinating, edge of your seat, “tell me more” subject of dry rot. Where’s the fun in that?
I have been suffering from a stress fracture in my funny bone, and it took this to snap me out of it:
This is how we TP homes in Scripps Ranch; in this case, my home. If you look closely, you will notice that in addition to the requisite toilet paper, the lawn is littered with napkins, and plastic spoons are rising from what was previously a lovely, manicured lawn suggesting that the dead are ready for soup. There are dozens of them! And, if that wasn’t enough, my daughter remarked (seriously and in an accusatory fashion) that the toilet paper used by our most recent little felons is so much cushier than our own. I guess I just suck as a mother.
Boy, did I need this levity. Those of you who, like me, have a birth year that causes the cashier at the liquor store to shake his head in utter amazement will remember the old Steve Martin bit. “Steve, how are you sooo funny?” His response – “I put baloney in my shoes, and then I feel funny!” This “week” (and since Realtors define “week” as the length of time since their last day off, I mean “the month of July”), I am in serious need of some lunch meat insoles. The sad fact is, dry rot has been the most upbeat and whimsical thing I have had to deal with lately.
Let me put it another way; we haven’t been having a lot of fun lately. We tend to be mirrors of those around us and, this “week”, I have been keeping company with more than my share of seemingly unhappy people.
It’s a tough time to be a real estate agent, and I’m not speaking in terms of monetary reward. Emotionally, for the agent and their clients, the home buying and selling process has become more complex and trying. The issue is really two-fold. The shift in our market has resulted in many people who don’t want to move but must and who want to move but can’t. Longer market times, fewer buyers, market values which fail to live up to expectations are all to blame.
Secondly, and not inconsequential, are the industry dynamics. There is a prevailing distrust among consumers of both agents and of other principals in the transaction which I have never before seen. The Internet has given consumers the perception that it is easy, the perception that they can navigate their own transactional waters without a guide, and just enough information to make them dangerous. Buyers want blood from the sellers, sellers want blood from the buyers, and both want to see some serious pain and suffering on the part of the agent.
A bad day at the office? Kick the dog. Didn’t do your homework? Blame the dog. And, this week, that dog would be me. Lest you are readying yourself to bring “whiney charges” against me (again), allow me to make a clarification or two. My issue du jour is not that I object to hard work, nor is it that I can’t play the punching bag roll with dignity and panache. Rather, it is the human condition that saddens me this week. I am being reminded that somewhere along the way so many of us have become too jaded, too lacking of empathy, compassion and respect for others. It has become too easy to shun responsibility and place blame, too easy to treat others carelessly and insensitively, and too tempting to mistake bullying for superiority.
As clarification, last “week” was fun not because it was easier or because (preemptive strike here) I made more money (I didn’t), but because it was more rewarding. My reward has never come from the paycheck, although that is admittedly a nice residual benefit, but from the satisfaction derived from doing a job well, from delighting clients with my efforts, and from being respected and appreciated as a result.
Recently, a colleague was commiserating about a tenuous escrow we are involved in and pointed out, in an attempt to comfort, that we have two others scheduled to close that same day, so all would not be lost. Funny! I never think about things that way. I never see transactions as dollar signs but rather as profession tasks, missions to be accomplished, and the best agents out there will entirely agree with me. A troubled escrow does not trouble me in that I might lose a paycheck, but it does trouble me in that my client’s interests will not be served; it represents a failure on my part to deliver the service and results for which I was hired. Do your job well, work like you don’t have to, and the money will follow. If, as a consumer, you perceive that your agent sees you as a dollar sign rather than a person, fire him summarily. Too many of us out there truly find our reward in your satisfaction. We, like you, like to be liked, like to be respected and appreciated. That’s what I call fun.
Next “week” will be fun again. In the meantime, if you are responsible for planting the place settings in my front yard, please identify yourself. I would like to send you a Thank You note.