Archives of my subscription-only monthly notes. The blog is more searchable. Interested in not waiting a few months to read it? Subscribe here. For these posts, I don’t do much formatting/changing as I’m more concerned about simply having the content here forever (because I own the blog, and I don’t own Tinyletter).
Remember the Charlottesville Ice Park? It’s gone.
I wrote a few years ago about how “the louder they are, the dumber they are,” and the value of listening, even when someone is yelling. Hint: the yelling is sometimes a sign of ignorance.
I’ve been called patient. Really. I do apply this skill with discretion and to things that are important. Trivial stuff, I’m adept at compartmentalizing those things. Good things come to those who wait, but patience is not a passive skill; it takes some worthwhile effort. And practice.
A few years ago, I was representing a buyer as they purchased a house with an unrepresented seller. He wouldn’t understand the home inspection process. The day of the home inspection came and he was present, which was not the first atypical moment in the process. I don’t remember what exactly set him off, but I do remember that he yelled at the inspector, who in turn left. He yelled at me. Yelled some more. And I listened. Responded with a reasonable tone. Listened and stayed focused on the fact that we still had a home inspection to do, because my clients really wanted that house. We got there. And my clients are happy.
Thankfully, getting yelled and cursed at is a rarity. When that happens, I reflect back on my time at VMI and the wise words of Col. Jones – “Rats, the louder they are, the dumber they are.”
This isn’t meant negatively, but teams aren’t my thing. (Unless I’m coaching soccer; I liked those teams.) I’m reasonably productive; I pay my mortgage. I see the value in real estate teams, but I find it profoundly frustrating when I’m representing a client and I’m told to call the X team coordinator for a particular part of the transaction. Nope. I’ll call the team lead. My relationship is with the “rain maker” and not the coordinators.
Think of it this way – there’s a reason Discover Card has a campaign based on a human actually answering the phone. Humans (the right ones) matter.
The way I practice real estate is based on relationships – clients, vendors, agents. Relationships don’t scale.
Reflecting on Doing What We Love
Post-crash, and I’m finally riding my bicycle outside again. More on this next month, but for now, this:
Last week, my younger daughter asked if I was riding the next morning, as I do most mornings.
1) I think she does worry a bit about me.
2) She knows I missed riding.
When I affirmed that I was riding, she responded, “Must be nice, Dad. You wake up and do something you love, and go to work and do something you love.”
Yep. Hopefully, that love for what I do comes through when I’m working with my clients.
It took me years to become competent and I’m still learning every day. When I see a new clause in an offer, I don’t slough it off, because it’s counter to how “I’ve always done it,” but I evaluate it on its merits. If it’s good, I might use it myself.
The value of hiring great representation can be incalculable. The value of hiring incompetent representation, equally so.
Example: A colleague and I have a running game called “price this house.” She’ll either hand me an old MLS sheet, tell me an address, or describe the house, and I’ll give a price. Usually, I’m pretty darn close. I’ll do the same with her. When we disagree, we banter, defending, challenging, listening. That banter, while always good natured, is always at a high level, a level I couldn’t have approached when I started practicing in 2001.
Yeah, I can price a house in 5 minutes (and then support or challenge that price with data), but it took me a decade to be able to do that. (And yes, mom, I know you hate that.)
(part 2 of expertise next month)
One client ruins it for everyone
Everything comes down to one thing. Every clause in the contract, every line, every comma, is the result of that one time that one thing happened. And we all have to live with it. I won’t yet share the most recent example of one client damaging the process for everyone, but it goes both ways.
I was meeting with a new client who was telling the story of how poorly they were represented when they purchased their home about 15 years prior. She spit out the name of the agent who worked as their agent. People never forget the bad. Best to 1) not be bad and 2) work tirelessly to create more memorable good.
Most people buy or sell a home every seven to ten years; one bad Realtor experience lingers. One client experience does as well, but most productive agents do so many transactions that a bad one is needed from time to time to keep us on our toes.
Keeping the Hunger
Real estate requires a certain hunger that is difficult to describe. Waking up every day, essentially unemployed is an interesting choice. I remember when I was a newbie agent, it took some time to harness and nurture the hunger to succeed and excel.
I was talking to a high school friend who is also a realtor and has been practicing as long as I have. We agreed that once you’ve been through a crash, you never truly recover. We’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. That waiting is tiresome, but it helps to keep the necessary edge sharp.
Now I’m watching some of our newer agents come into the business. Some hungrier than others. The ones who are able to get after it are the ones who are going to succeed, at least in the short term.
It’s still too soon to tell what’s happening, so I’ll say this:
- I think 2019 could be an early market, as have been the past few years. Buyers who’ve been unable to find the right property for the past few years are likely to jump on one of the first things that fits.
Sellers: price matters. You might be able to squeeze a couple thousand dollars more, but what’s the value – financial and psychological – of being on the market for longer than you’d like?
Urban properties seem to be doing better than rural ones. For the most part.
Micro markets matter.
- If you’re seeking representation, seek out competence. It matters. (Y’all know, I’d love to talk to you, to see if we’re a good fit)
What I’m Reading
- Wall repair toolkit. The Wirecutter is one of my favorite sites; whenever I need something, I start here.
- Engaged? This is how much you’d make by skipping your wedding and investing instead. Seriously. Elope. If you’re discussing borrowing money for your wedding, don’t.
- “With rising sea levels, property values may decline and insurance may become less attainable. This paves the way for mass displacement and gentrification.”
- The Golden Age of Podcasts! 23-25% of US adults listen to podcasts daily or a few times a week— around 60 million people listening a few times a week or more, and 91 million people listening at least once a week.
- The one clear result of Finland’s basic income trial: It made people happier. I’ve long been convinced that Wall-E is more prescient than the Terminator. Ok, maybe they’re tied.
- Here’s how you’ll feel if you quit Facebook for a month. Answer: You’ll be happier.
- What’s the Worst Trash Humans Produce?
A client recently was asking about how hard it must have been for me to have been off the bicycle for so long. I shrugged, and remarked, “just another story.” While I’ve noted this before, it’s truly one of the best perspectives I’ve been able to take to heart in a long time. Also, my shoulder is healed enough where I can ride my bicycle *and* shrug. 🙂
Jim Duncan, Nest Realty, 126 Garrett Street Suite D, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Licensed real estate agent in Commonwealth of VA.