Reggie stared at the pen.
Held between the thumb and index finger of the hand that emerged from a white coat sleeve, the golden implement caught and reflected the overhead lights in mesmerizing fashion. No doubt by design.
Reaching to accept the offering, he did so not of his own volition. As had been the case since Emma declared the community “home” within seconds of their first visit, Reggie felt the conveyer belt moving beneath his feet, hurtling him towards a purchase that didn’t feel right.
The house was exactly what he wanted. Boasting 3 bedrooms split from a home office, the warm slice of Tuscany was ideal for his burgeoning family. A play pool, a swing set in the middle of the community park and a tree-lined street with neighbors who actually waved when they saw you coming … it was Pleasantville in every conceivable way.
As he took the pen, squinting away the glare to scrutinize the engraved homage to the “Top Producer” across the table, he chastised himself for his hesitance. If there was one thing that defined the walking neurosis that was Reginald Painter, it was the perplexing inability to make a decision. Asked to pick the movie on date night, he’d break out in a cold sweat between the “Romantic Comedy” and “Thriller” aisles. Given a choice of soup or salad, he was apt to order both. Why, the mere mention of “paper or plastic” had been known to reduce him to a catatonic state. Steeling his resolve, he hunted for the signature line with his trembling hand.
The air fled the sales office as the world around him slowed to a crawl. He felt as though he were breathing through one of Gabe’s twisty straws. Unable to scrawl his name and unable to pull his hand back, he stared at the ponding ink where the pen dug into the contract. The formerly amicable pair of watery, brown eyes across the table narrowed to predatory crescents – the flint of a looming sale sharpening the agent’s countenance to a wolfish blade. Reg’s mind eye foresaw a suddenly hirsute figure leaping upon the table between them to howl over its fresh kill.
Then the noise of the cavernous surroundings returned, louder than before, amplified by the preceding silence. The man across from him once again nothing more than a run of the mill sales associate, making him more or less human. The agent laughed in obvious discomfort.
“Earth to Reg,” the Realtor was saying. “You okay in there, boss?”
“Yeah, um, fine. I’m fine. Sorry,” Reggie responded.
He looked around to see if anyone else noticed the episode, his face hot with embarrassment. A manic middle-aged woman was loitering in the vicinity, but she was too busy prattling on about her recent kitchen remodel to pay him any mind.
Re-gripping the pen with a sense of determination, Reggie bent again to make his mark. It was time to move out of a self-imposed Purgatory and into the rest of his life. And his dream home.
Expecting a Herculean effort in deliberation, he was shocked to see his hand fly across the page, with flair no less. He’d done it!
Except he hadn’t. Seeing an indentation but no ink, he realized the pen was dead. He chuckled at the irony.
“Not a problem, not a problem,” the agent assured Reggie as he rifled through the pockets of his ill-fitting jacket, his broad shoulders testing the tensile strength of its burdened seams. “I have a spare here somewhere.”
Now it was the agent whose brow began to sweat. The momentary panic relented when he found what he was looking for inside a coat pocket.
“Your sword, my liege,” the agent intoned, bowing his head in mock reverence and extending the considerably less impressive Bic that was emblazoned with prescription drug branding.
When his joke was met with silence, he lifted his head.
Reggie was shuffling away in the direction of the television. He was missing a slipper.
“How’s business today, Mr. Landry?”
The agent looked in the direction of the new arrival’s voice.
“Brisk, sir. Brisk,” he assured his questioner. “I’m closing a sale right now.”
“Or I would be if you hadn’t gone and chased off my prospect,” he snorted as his eyes drifted back to the retreating figure.
Reggie had sauntered over to a cluster of unoccupied chairs on the far side of the recreation room, paralyzed into standing by the multiple seating options.
“The Vintage Square Development,” the newcomer asked.
Saul Landry eyed the interloper with suspicion before a wide smile spread across his face.
“Why yes, indeed … Vintage Square… marvel of modern architecture and the last place you will ever call home,” he segued. “You strike me as the family type, am I right?”
“You got me,” said the doctor, settling into the chair opposite his patient. His own face stared back at him from the identification badge on the breast pocket of his pilfered coat.
“Do you have any move-in ready specs,” the doctor asked, placing a tape recorder on the table and pressing ‘record’ as he welcomed the forthcoming sales pitch for the long-defunct housing project.
Now that the outside world stood at the brink of a recovery, the rehabilitation efforts for his charges at the Shady Acres Home For the Criminally Inequitable could begin in earnest.
Today’s was an important session.
“You’re in luck,” Saul answered, adjusting his non-existent tie. “Looks like one just opened up!”
Greetings REO Agent,
As the foreclosure crisis here in Scottsdale is beginning to show signs of easing, if not exactly abating, your fellow Real Estate professionals are eager to welcome you back to the ranks of humanity.
You’ve been missed!
You’ve done what you needed to do to stay afloat during the difficult times of the past few years, but now that your bank business is slowly petering out, we have a few tips to help ease the transition back to regular old resale transactions. By following the advice herein, you should have little trouble re-assimilating with the general population.
- Invest in some Supra lockboxes. We don’t fault you for not wanting to spend $70 a pop for an electronic box when you were carrying 50 listings at a time (okay, we do, but we aren’t ones to carry a grudge), but it’s a small sacrifice for the security of your mom and pop clients and ease of access for your fellow agents now that you are down to two overpriced townhouses.
- You have to return phone calls again. As a busy professional, we understand that you can’t always field a call. Just bear in mind before letting everything roll to voicemail purgatory that you will need the sales force now that you can’t rely on grossly underpriced homes to do the job for you.
- Burn your addenda. Then piss on it. Every last piece of superfluous documentation that your employing banks made we hard-working stiffs submit in advance of a purchase acceptance.
- Regarding feedback on your new resale listings … um, yeah, not going to happen until you update us on the status of every unanswered offer we have collectively submitted on your REO listings over the past five years.
- Camera phone listing photos … time to rethink this one. We recommend mixing in a shot or two of the interior while you’re at it. Human sellers appreciate marketing.
- Be advised that our sellers will respond to all offers you draft in 3-5 business days. Or thereabouts. Your business is important to us, and we thank you in advance for your patience.
- We do NOT advise touting your recent success of underselling the neighborhood, or looking equity sellers directly in the eye on your first forays back into the wild. They will charge.
- Planning on working with buyers again? They are those vaguely homo sapienish looking creatures you have been studiously ignoring since 2006. We’d be happy to make introductions. They don’t think you really exist.
- Time frames matter again.
- Send the legion of fresh-faced assistants back for their diplomas. They still have a chance to make something of their young lives.
And most importantly, remember to have fun. Because we’re going to have a bunch of it at your expense in the coming months.
The Real Estate Community
PS – We may have taken a few of your former clients while you were gone. Our bad. If you can pick any of yours out of a lineup, we will gladly return them. If not … tough titty for you, fishface.
Note: This bit of light-hearted fare is purely satire and not intended to impugn the integrity and/or professionalism of my fellow REALTORS.
Abe Flemming studied the open notepad on his desk. A daunting list of phrases stared back at him. There was a golden egg hidden within the black chicken-scratch, he just needed to find it. He started at the top and worked his way down.
This Home Does Not Suck!
Abe chuckled at his first entry, quickly moving past the throwaway writing prompt to the genuine attempts that followed.
Housing Nirvana … Smells Like Value, Not Teen Spirit!
He cringed, moved down a line.
$hort on Equity, Long on Charm!
Jesus, Abe thought. These sounded a lot better in his head.
Why Settle for Cookie Cutter When You Can Have a Cookie MONSTER?
Definitely not what he was going for, he moved on to the next candidate.
If You Lived Here, You’d Already Be Home!
Abe drew an angry line through the barely legible cursive, annoyed that he’d let a well-traveled cliche infiltrate his quest for fresh, unique verbiage in his advertising.
At the End of the Day, Aren’t We All Bank-Owned?
Abe groaned as he skipped this one, too, making a mental note to mine the thought for future blog fodder.
Diamond in the Guf!
Where the West Was Wondered …
“What the hell is that supposed to mean,” he demanded of the empty room.
Abe dropped the pen and snatched a half-full can of Coke Zero off the desk. He took a deep pull, savoring the sweet cola’s aroma as much as its taste.
He glanced at the notepad.
Territorial Delight … Wanna Party, Cowboy?
Nearly spitting the dark liquid all over the desk, Abe was instead treated to a sudden rush of carbonation up his considerable schnoz. His eyes teared up as the resulting inferno threatened to ignite the thatch of grey-black kindling that protruded from each flared nostril.
“That’s it,” he declared, turning to his computer as the burning subsided.
The flashing cursor was poised on the blank title line, imploring its master to yield to the inevitable.
With a heavy sigh, Abe obliged.
He typed Forever Views! and printed the flyer.
Scottsdale, AZ – Tired of being the one under a microscope, a local Scottsdale Real Estate agent has turned the tables on the service review paradigm.
Barry Wong, a residential Realtor with Prickly Pear Properties, says the time has come for consumers to enjoy the same level of scrutiny to which service providers are subjected.
“I’m not a toaster,” Wong stressed when reached for comment at his ‘mobile office’ in the parking lot of the Goodwill on Scottsdale Rd between Thomas and McDowell.
“Nor am I a used Pontiac or a sandwich shop,” Wong continued. “Yet everyone feels the need to put a numerical value on the ongoing, long-term service I provide nowadays.”
Asked to quantify the difficulty of ranking the unique, involved relationships that agents share with their clients on a scale of 1-10, Wong rated it an ‘8’.
“There are far too many variables from transaction to transaction, and relationship to relationship for clients to rate me effectively on a simple, translatable scale,” Wong argued. “Especially when much of the job takes place behind the scenes, the customer never realizes the true value of what has been provided.”
Wong was less conflicted by the ability to rank consumer behavior, however.
“It’s simple,” Wong noted. “They either screw you over or they don’t.”
Adopting a four star rating system for the online repository that he hopes will help his fellow professionals avoid the all too common, non-profitable encounters with shiftless time-wasters, Wong envisions a national platform that will fully illuminate this dark side of the sales equation.
“Four stars are for successful closings within six months of initial contact,” he explained. “Three stars will reflect clients who purchased or sold a home beyond the six month threshold.”
Not everyone is convinced that the attempt to level the playing field is a prudent course of action in an era of consumer empowerment.
“The online evaluation of those who would bring you business has never been attempted,” Gustav Merkins of the consumer advocacy group Are You High? claimed when reached for comment. “That’s because it is patently idiotic.”
“If I can save just one agent from driving all over town with some grifter with a history of shining salespeople on, it will all be worth it,” Wong asserted in the face of such naysaying.
Asked to clarify the significance of the final two points in the rating scale he created during a night of binge drinking on the heels of a lost listing, Wong obliged.
“Two stars are for customers who never buy or sell anything,” he confirmed. “One star is reserved for customers who grade agents poorly on online rating sites.”
“Look,” Wong concluded. “I am a firm believer that the customer is always right, except when he’s not. That’s where shame and public humiliation comes into play.”
— Paul Slaybaugh, BSRE News ©2011
On this day in Arizona Real Estate:
11/23/1881 – The first Real Estate disclosure laws go into effect for the young territory on the heels of the sale of a corral in Tombstone with a non-disclosed stigma. Claiming he would have paid considerably less for the property had he been aware of its recent history of people getting shot in the face, Jebediah Tippins also holds the distinction for the first ‘For Sale By Owner’ purchase in the Southwest.
11/23/1912 – Edward Reems of Copper Crest Realty & Insurance double-ends the first sale of a covered wagon park in state history. He is later found hanged by a fellow agent for alleged ‘buyer rustling’.
11/23/1937 – Eli Smokes invents the lockbox in Prescott, AZ and immediately gives out the combination to the town drunk.
11/23/1974 – The Arizona Association of Realtors introduces the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, responds to immediate consumer demands for full online access to the raw listing feed by noting that the internet has not been invented yet.
11/23/1987 – Timothy Barnaby of Tucson is the first to cross out ‘7%’ in the boilerplate of a listing agreement, sparking a revolution against Real Estate fees that would be a boon for consumers in their pursuit of affordable, crappy service.
11/23/2004 – Arizona Real Estate buyers lose their collective minds.
11/23/2007 – The party’s over as lending institutions turn out the lights on all programs geared towards borrowers with sub-eight hundred FICO scores who earn less than seventeen million dollars a month.
11/23/2011 – Paul Slaybaugh with Realty Executives prepares to give thanks to his faithful clients for helping him successfully navigate another crazy year in the ever-changing waters of the Scottsdale Real Estate scene.
Thank you, Arizona. Looking forward to another year of firsts, both real and imagined.
Scottsdale, AZ – A Valley home inspector has declared war on leaky pipes.
And Real Estate agents.
Tired of consumer demands for advice on matters outside of the scope of his services, Lester Hubble has announced on his small business website that receives up to four visits a day that all future inquiries about what the seller is obligated to fix will be directed to his blistered middle finger.
“I offer home inspection services, not transactional advice,” an exasperated Hubble explained when reached for comment. “Want to know what to do with the information provided in my report? Talk to the guy in the khakis and eighty dollar sunglasses.”
“Your Realtor,” Hubble clarified. “You know, the guy making three percent to show up for the last five minutes of the inspection and act like he knows the difference between his ass and a hole in the freon line.”
Reached for comment, local Realtor Dolores Dunmisset acknowledged that she had no idea what she requested on the last repair demand list she submitted on behalf of a client.
“GFCIs, HVACs … most of the stuff in those reports sounds like a designation I should have on my business card,” she chuckled. “I just know that if it shows up on the last page, it’s broken and we want it fixed.”
“Me and a few of my friends started adding bogus items to our reports a few months back,” Hubble confided. “Since ninety nine percent of these idiots would call their handyman for a repair bid on a faulty particle accelerator so long as it appeared in the summary, we have a running bet to see who can get the craziest thing included in a demand list.”
Asked if he was bitter that Realtors, who would seem to know very little about the actual workings of a house, stand to earn an inordinately high fee for every transaction in comparison to the $250-450 he charges per inspection, Hubble did not equivocate.
Hubble did admit that he had encountered a handful of agents over the years who actually asked pertinent questions and sought clarification on the exact nature of the deficiencies noted in his reports, but was quick to add that stumbling upon those rare exceptions was akin to discovering Bigfoot playing lawn darts with the Loch Ness Monster in Area 51.
“A needle in a blown-in stack of fiberglass,” he explained.
Unbeknownst to them, those very agents are the unwitting commodities being wagered by Hubble and his cohorts in what has turned into a high stakes affair.
“Yeah,” he confirmed. “Winner gets books of preferred agent business from the losers. Losers fight over the game show hosts and Fembots.”
Asked if he was winning the contest, Hubble shook his head.
“I really need to up my game if I’m going to top Fahlengrade. Reverse polarity on a traversable wormhole within the sump pump was epic.”
Reached for comment, the National Association of Realtors released a statement warning consumers to consult their home inspection specialist about the dangers of faulty wiring.
–Paul Slaybaugh, BSRE News ©2011