Picture a bowl of primordial soup. No, really picture it. What does it look like? I see a gelatinous, gray gumbo of sorts. The contents within completely impervious to the light of the sun underneath an opaque, spoon-devouring outer layer. I don’t need to make out the individual invertebrates that I sense roiling about the porcelain confines to intuit that a wayward finger would disappear into tiny, prehistoric mandibles within moments of straying into the land of the culinary lost.
Of course, I am talking about bank owned property sales. If the creepy crawlies in the walls don’t get you, the asset managers will.
About a year and a half ago, I, like many of my Real Estate brethren, was forced to take stock of the focus of my career. Having long relied on the nearly continuous repeat and referral business that I cultivated through years of diligent service, I was forced to ponder the unponderable when the Great Market Implosion of 2008 (c) threatened to sabotage my business model. If you could even call it a business model, that is. I subscribe to the notion that if you do right by the clients that you have now, you will never want for clients in the future. Good business practice begets good client retention.
And yet, there I was. Looking around for the vine upon which my new business had died amidst the economic crop dusting that was rendering entire markets fallow. My hedgerow bustled only with concern. So what to do? With credit markets drying up and loans increasingly difficult to come by, the resale market became a stagnant bog. The only sign of life would be Nessie popping her head above the surface of the foreclosure loch on occasion to swallow another hapless homeowner. Against this stark backdrop, many of my respected colleagues turned to the very institutions that led us down this path to housing oblivion for their salvation. Sensing that resale properties could not compete with the dirt cheap foreclosures, and that finding loans for buyers had become vastly more difficult than finding properties, I was tempted to follow suit.
The lure of pursuing bank-owned property listings was … gulp … quite tantalizing. I saw REO agents handling more properties at a given time than they ordinarily handled over the course of an entire year while I banged my head against the resale wall. Heeding the siren’s song, I went so far as to solicit lists of banks with whom I could apply to handle their overflowing inventories. Hat in hand, it struck me that this was the 21st century version of standing in line for hours on end amidst scores of other able-bodied candidates for a factory job circa 1930. A funny thing happened en route to the head of the line, however. An epiphany, if you will.
In the current market, we all work for the banks in one manner or another. You either list their houses, or you bring them buyers. Only one side of that equation will bring you repeat business down the line, however. I realized that I could not take on the workload that REO specialists enjoy tolerate without alienating the loyal client base that had propelled me to heights I had never really thought possible in my career. Knowing there are only so many hours in the day, I made the conscious decision to forgo the possibility of immediate gratification with the banks to continue to serve real people. It’s not an entirely altruistic choice either, but a pragmatic one. The foreclosure market will dry up eventually, leaving the few remaining morsels to the established denizens of the deep who have waded through that knee-deep filth for the last two decades. Those Johnny Come Latelys whose bank-owned property experience extends back a year or two will be in the unenviable position of having to redefine their expertise yet again. Their neglected mom and pop clients will have moved on.
I do not want to watch my business wash up on the rocks along with the myriad other souls aimlessly following the tide on a makeshift raft of sticks and desperation when the winds finally change. I’ll continue to take my chances with my own internal compass and weather-battered crew.
So, here you sit. Spoon in hand, ready to dive into that noxious looking soup. It may not be the most appetizing dish you have ever seen, but it’s the house special and the price is right. The maitre d’ has already slipped back into the kitchen, hurriedly gathering the same ladled gruel for the next table.
No fear, your royal tester is still here. Pass that gnarly bowl on over and I’ll help you determine its edibility.
I was sitting on your side of the table when we were eating steak and lobster, and I’m not looking for the check now that my dinner guests can only afford spam. It may bring a little indigestion on this particular evening, but there are plenty of four star evenings ahead.
If you are buying or selling a home in Scottsdale, Arizona, and you are not an amorphous, soul crushing financial institution, it would be my great privilege to represent you in your pursuits.