Unicorn Goldilocks Expertise Fire | Note From Jim, May 2019

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Unicorns vs Goldilocks

I have had at least three buyer clients come to me this year, and express that they are seeking “unicorns,” thinking that they are looking for a needle in the haystack, or some other similar metaphor.

There aren’t many unicorns in our market. And most people aren’t actually seeking one. 

What buyers are seeking is Goldilocks’ “just right” – not too big, not too small, but just right. A big part of the challenge is understanding what “just right” means to you, as that part is often quite different. 

Seeking Expertise

an instructive moment and needing a mentor

Last month I wrote briefly about the value of expertise, the time it takes to gain that expertise, and how much faster (and often competently) an expert can do something than can a rookie.

Many of you know about my bike wreck late last year. I hadn’t been in physical therapy since my last major injury, during soccer. I’m fine now, in that I’m riding again. Getting healed took a mistake (more than one, obviously), but I’m focusing on this one. I didn’t thoroughly vet my physical therapist and I stuck with him a bit too long. It’s not his fault; it’s mine. He was new, fresh out of school, and still learning how to practice, and – this  is key – without a mentor to guide him. 

It took me about six weeks to realize my mistake, driven home in part by him being surprised by some of my suggestions for exercises I’d gleaned from googling. It’s my fault; I went with the first person I found, driven in part by my desire to get back on the bicycle as fast as possible. (Can you see the parallels to choosing real estate representation?)  

A few weeks after I’d ghosted my physical therapist, I ran into him and asked him for a few minutes. I took this opportunity to tell him why I’d left and my thoughts on his finding a guide. He seemed to listen, take it in, and hopefully learn from it. Imposter Syndrome is a thing.

We were all rookies once. 

tl;dr: I went to a rookie physical therapist, eventually went to an experienced one, got better, and told my former therapist he needed to find a mentor.

The Market

It’s weird. And interesting. And we might be at the peak, but we might not. Data next month, but for now (as always), make the right decision for you with the best, most relevant, and accurate information, preferably with professional guidance. 


What makes a great agent

*This is written for the 95% of readers who aren’t real estate people. For you 5%, please take note. 

It’s easy to write about what makes a “bad” real estate agent. Dishonest, incompetent, unresponsive, unwilling to learn or change.

But a great agent is not merely the opposite of those. A great agent is one who listens, is competent, willing to make and own mistakes, constantly learning, with a great support system, who learns and knows the market, is humble, and who knows his or her role in the transaction. Sometimes that role is well in the background; we’re dealing with humans, after all. I can’t put one of those qualities above any of the others; a great listener without competence is as good as the most competent agent who won’t listen to the clients’ wants/needs – not worth much.

Finding the great agents – that can be the hard part, particularly when hiring buyer agents. Listing agents are a bit easier as that side is more systematizable. By “systematizable” (yes, I made up that word), I mean that there are more easily-defined tasks, ie: take professional pictures, determine market value, negotiated home inspection, whereas buyer representation requires a different set of soft skills (discerning body language, guiding to move forward or walk away, mediation and negotiations are often more rife with emotion). 


Wet Blanket on the Fire of Life

An attorney client was talking to his attorney at closing. My client said that his profession made him so risk averse that his wife called him “the wet blanket on the fire of life.” That’s a bit extreme, I think. That’s sort of my role when representing clients – to tamp down smoldering excitement as necessary. Emotions complicate things, and make it harder to make rational decisions, particularly when making life-altering ones. *

Talking to People like Humans

When I coached soccer, I talked to the kids like they were people, a parent once told me. I hadn’t thought of it before then, but I did – I talked to the girls like they were humans, rarely yelled, and wasn’t condescending because I knew soccer better than they did. I wanted to install the love of, and make them better at, the game. 

Reflecting a bit, that’s how I practice real estate (and live), and I’m glad that parent told me that. 

Next Month

  • Another Realtor put me in a new position, that of having to tell my clients that a fellow Realtor was a bold-faced liar. And why I’m not going to file a “Code of Ethics” violation.
  • Aesop’s “The Dog and the Reflection
  • Allergies & constant evaluation
  • *Sometimes, knowing when to let the emotions take hold is key, too. 

What I’m Reading

I don’t do this often, but the above is from a recent Instagram post.

This stuff matters so much. Sellers left my clients a two page note, describing their lives in this house, and introducing them to all of the neighbors. 
Conveying good karma goes a long way.
#realestateisfun #charlottesville

Jim on: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedInRealCentralVA | Instagram

Jim Duncan, Nest Realty, 126 Garrett Street Suite D, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Licensed real estate agent in Commonwealth of VA.


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