A Harsh Lesson Learned

Just when I thought I had seen everything – reality bites!


Just to set the stage: Realtors are obligated to present any and all offers. Now exactly when an offer begins, and when a Realtor assumes a fiduciary relationship with a client is open to question but just to be careful a Realtor needs a good gut reaction to people as protection.


I remember once when I was the Broker of Record of what is now the largest office in Hidden Meadows, and a client came in while I was at the front desk. His first words sent shivers down my spine, “I don’t want to buy a home, I want to steal one!”


Since I do not deal in the scavenger market, I immediately called upon someone in the office who needed a sale because they needed the money. The client was not for me.


Over the past 31 years, I have “fired” just two clients – one after writing three offers and having the clients change their minds:  ( “Why are you canceling this third escrow?” “Because it is a two story home.” “It was a two story home when you wrote the offer!”)


Then there was someone I was dealing with who wanted to make an offer so low that I simply could not carry it. The law says I must…well, not exactly. All agents represent the Broker of the office, so I simply told the Broker that I would not bring the offer forward and since it was his responsibility he could do it and fire me is he wished.


He didn’t wish.


So, with that as a background, over many, many years my antenna was not sufficiently sensitive when I was approached by an absolutely delightful couple to show them several homes. I was shocked when they asked me to write an offer $100,000 under the pretty reasonable asking price.


I had already shown them the home three times, and other homes as well. I was obligated to them, but I tried to get them to raise their offer by $40,000 and offered to return directly to them the commission I would make on that $40,000 to demonstrate to them that I was not asking them to raise their offer so I would make a higher paycheck.


No sale. They had gone to a website that told them how to get a home for WAY under the market price, the website had worked for some of their friends and that website apparently knew more than I did. I made the offer at $100,000 under the asking price, knowing that the offer was insulting but I was obligated. This time I would not pass the responsibility to the Broker, because the Broker is my son!


The offer was, as predicted, a disaster. The clients had done their homework by subscribing to one of those seminar Realtors, who, as the Listing Agent who examined the “research” told me, he taught clients, “How to steal a house.” I have always contended that there is more money in giving seminars than in selling homes, and whatever “secrets” you give, you can always claim were not used properly if they don’t work.


I had never heard of the source from which their “research” had come. I have seen TV ads for these types of seminars but never expected to actually meet anyone who used those techniques.  I certainly thought that something in the Buyers demeanor would give them away, but these were, and are, an absolutely delightful couple.


To this moment, I do not believe they had ever anticipated that there was some number that was insulting to some older couple who had lived in and lovingly maintained an absolutely beautiful home that demonstrated a REAL “Pride of Ownership.”  They would not accept my analysis – they had studied under an “expert.”


But to the Owners this was their HOME, not a house they lived in!


Hidden Meadows is filled with older couples who do not consider their HOME to be a commercial property for which offers are considered just for their numbers. There is a HUGE emotional component to their sale. These older couples want someone to LOVE their home, and there is an immediate personal shock when they hear a number so low that no appraiser or Realtor could reasonably support it.


Meanwhile the Seminar Realtor who advised the couple is immune from the heartache he caused, will never hear of it, and goes blithely along telling other people how to “steal a home.”


A REALLY low offer can work in this market if you select someone who is hurting – there are people for whom a low price is BETTER than a foreclosure, but those people need to be researched. You can’t treat older people who have money, and emotions, like you can some first-time home buyer who is badly overextended and wants (and needs) OUT!


A new experience for me! The couple who did this had absolutely no clue. They meant no harm, and in fact are sensitive people who would not harm a fly.


It has been a learning experience, and none of us are happy about it.


August 25 MLS Update

Absolutely NOTHING has gone on in the Meadows in the past 24 hours — but that does not mean nothing is going on, it just means the MLS reflects nothing. I went on a listing call of a terrific brand new 5.200 s.f. home (with 7 bathrooms, count them 7!), and had two calls to lease my Valley Center listing. Activity continues for all local Realtors, but nothing is reflected as activity in the MLS.

August 24 Update

Slow day in the Meadows. No sales, no listings, no price changes and just one home expired its listing but I fully expect that one to be relisted immediately. Actually it is one of my favorites and I love to show it.


Jean and I held an Open House in Valley Center in a truly lovely home with a fantastic view, but the problem with privacy homes is that they do not get much traffic. On a good weekend day, we MAY get one couple, and today we had zero until we were picking up signs and someone stopped and asked to see the home. Naturally, we will postpone even dinner at Patrone’s in Valley Center for the opportunity to show a home so we did and they have some interest.


So dinner was delayed but not abandoned. If you have never been to the restaurant called Patrone’s in Valley Center – it once was Pepperoni’s – you have missed some great Italian food! It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but just ask the Sheriff or CHP! Highly recommended are the meat Ravioli, and spaghetti and meatballs with meat sauce. The Blue Cheese dressing is so good we buy it by the quart to take home!  (The purpose of a salad is to hold Blue Cheese dressing!)