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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