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The 12 Steps of Real Estate Recovery

You have a problem.  Your family sees it.  Your friends see it.  At the eye of the storm, only you lack the perspective to clearly recognize the wake of wanton destruction spawned by your vice.  Despite your feeble protestations to the contrary, you need help.  Your addiction does not end with you.  It touches the lives of those around you with dark, restless hands.  Probing unsuspecting pockets and vulnerable throats.

The cycle of despair ends today.  Your days as a perpetual Real Estate shopper are over.

House hunting can give you a rush like none other.  No buyer quickly forgets the first time he steps through the front door to a new potential future.  The magic.  The exhilaration.  The knowledge that one is virtually unfettered to choose his own adventure.  Of course, once that initial euphoria grabs a hold of a buyer, he must experience it again.  Houses 2-10 still hold some residual magic, but do not hold a candle to that very first experience.  Houses 11-20 hold an air of disappointment.  Soon enough, each successive property becomes a progressively greater assault on the sensibilities.  Your friends and relatives grow weary of your constant trolling of Realtor.Com.  Your erstwhile volunteers will no longer join you on the weekly Sunday home tour with your beleaguered Real Estate agent.

You don’t care.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, your silver bullet is out there.  You don’t need help, you just need more listings.  Where are all the new listings, anyway?  Everyone knows that banks are giving houses away for pennies on the dollar, so this simply must be the week that the 5000 square foot home on 4 acres hits the market.  For $125,000.

Welcome to Detox.  My name is Paul.  I will be your cold dose of reality for the next 30 days.

The first step to recovery, of course, is admitting you have a problem.  Trust me, you have a problem.  Further, you must admit that you are powerless to the tug of your addiction.  I offer as “Exhibit A” this August 9th, 2009 email sent to your agent regarding a property you found online.  Time-stamped at 3:48 AM.  “Exhibit B” is your agent’s cell phone records from 3:49 – 4:32 AM of the very same day.

Step two is to understand that a power greater than yourself can restore you to a sane existence.  No, it’s not your brother’s mail carrier’s uncle who owns four rental properties.  It’s your agent.  Listen to him/her.

We’ll just skip step three because we all know that the realm of Real Estate is presided over by a supreme being in the guise of a braying, one-eyed donkey with cataracs.  Pin the tail on him and you are as likely to get donkey kicked in the goods as you are to win the investment lotto.  See step two for obtaining the services of one who knows how to best manipulate, if not outright tame, the fickle Real Estate beast.

You are now ready to move on to step four.  This is where you take full and unflinching stock of your own morality.  “Thou Shall Not Steal” is a typical shortcoming of many Real Estate shopping addicts.  The thrill of the grift, after all, is one of the primary tarpits into which the saber-toothed buyer has fallen to become bogged down to such an irretrievable degree.

While admitting to yourself the wrongs you have committed is no picnic, neither is admitting those things to the higher power of your choice and a fellow non-home buying human.  When you can do so, you have conquered Step five.  Don’t even think about omitting the part where you burned 1897 hours and 16,789 gallons of your agent’s time and gasoline.

Step six is opening yourself up to the full removal of the defects in your character from a higher power.  Once again, your agent will gladly fill this role in absentia and remove said defects via Paypal and/or rubber mallet.

If you can bring yourself to ask for said absolution, you have mastered step seven.

Step eight requires that you make a list of all those you have harmed and be willing to make amends.  You can start with your spouse, co-workers and anyone you have pumped for advice and proceeded to dutifully ignore.  Just make sure that your REALTOR is somewhere in the mix.  No greater sin than trumping his/her decades of industry experience with the sage advice of your hairdresser and life insurance agent.

Step nine is actually making the aforementioned amends.  A little wine and cuddling to soothe frayed nerves and egos is a good start, but cash money absolves all.

Step ten directs that you continue to take stock of your failings and immediately admit subsequent wrongs.  You may be on the road to recovery, but that doesn’t mean you are immune to calling a listing agent directly to schedule an appointment after your agent has patiently educated you over the past year and a half.  And yes by the way, that does make you a bad person.

Step eleven directs you to establish more direct contact with your agent.  Email and the occasional phone call will suffice.  He or she is tired of sending smoke signals in the direction of East Jabib to reach you.  When the right property comes along, don’t make a search party necessary.  Bloodhounds are pricey by the hour.

Step twelve is reserved for those Career Buyers who have had complete spiritual awakenings and will actively work to spread and promote these guiding principles to their brethren in shopping addiction.  Praise the lord and pass the turnips, you are now ready to purchase a home!  Go forth and proselytize!

Should you experience temptation to return to your former habits or worse, suffer a relapse, it is important that you understand three things:

1) These things happen and you are still loved.

2) Just not by your agent.

3) You are completely and totally screwed.

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Frustrated Scottsdale Renter? Some Agents Will Actually Help!

It is not atypical for Real Estate agents to spurn rentals.  Much to the chagrin of frustrated prospective renters, that is one voicemail that seldom gets returned.  For an agent backlogged with more lucrative opportunities, he/she will often leave the red-headed stepchild of the industry to the property managers.  You don’t get rich matching tenants and landlords, especially if it is not the main thrust of your business.  Thus the rental stone is not merely left unturned by the high fliers, it is disregarded as a stone altogether.  More like a pebble, the likes of which will find its way into your shoe and cause great discomfort to those who would tread too close.

Part of the problem with the rental market is that the compensation is a prohibiting factor.  Realtors are hired guns.  As independent contractors, we are always performing risk/reward analysis.  For many, the potential reward of a rental transaction is not nearly lucrative enough to justify the risk of the effort not successfully culminating in a paycheck.  To operate on straight commission, productivity must be maxed and the upside ridiculously high, otherwise, we would all opt for the safety of a salaried position.  With compensation for rental properties drifting downwards in recent years, the opportunity cost has simply become too great for many in our ranks.  Why shuttle around some schlub for two days in hopes of collecting a $150 paycheck when they might put a $500,000 buyer in the car instead?  Of course, you also have a segment of agents who might simply find such menial work beneath their inflated sense of self, but you get those types in every field.

I can’t rightly attest to the motives of those who brush off rental prospects, but I can tell you why I do not.  Any agent worth his or her salt looks not only at the present business horizon, but the future skyline as well.  In my estimation, today’s tenant is tomorrow’s buyer.  Whenever the financial and personal wherewithal comes to make that transition, I want to be the agent they remember that helped them when the others gave them the brush off.  If my competitors want to slam the door on these apparently inconsequential house hunters, I will gladly use the opportunity to get my own foot in that very same door.

Anyone can sell someone a house.  It takes diligence, empathy and yes, a little luck (hard to compete with Aunt Margaret when she gets bored and gets a Real Estate license) to sell a person every home he or she will ever own.  I aspire to the latter.  Performing a service that can be tantamount to pro bono work in some cases is one means of achieving that aim.  It never ceases to amaze me how many advertising dollars some agents will spend to attract new clients while completely neglecting the opportunities that don’t cost a nickel (a little gas notwithstanding).  For the chance to gain the trust of consumers while they are at either the infancy or nadir of their journey towards home ownership, I happily pick up that slack.  Working rentals over the years whenever the opportunity has arisen, I have procured some of my very favorite and most loyal clients.  They tend to stick with you on the way up when you were there for them at the bottom.

To all of my esteemed colleagues who neglect the rental market, I thank you.

To the frustrated renters out there who can’t get an agent to return a phone call, email or smoke signal, give me a buzz.  I will gladly help you find temporary housing in the Scottsdale, NE Phoenix and Paradise Valley area.

And when you’re ready to buy … I wouldn’t be adverse to taking that call, too 😉

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