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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Obstacle Illusions


“Life is full of obstacle illusions": (Grant Frazier). That wonderful line that I took from a recent Jack’s Winning Words Blog, might have come from the comic strip’s Malaprop Man. It certainly makes a great point that many, if not most, obstacles that we believe we hit in life are, in fact illusions. As Malaprop Man might put it – “They are pigments of our imagination.”

These obstacle illusions often lead to fear, which leads to hesitation, which ultimately leads to paralysis. I know that I face that in my life and my job. I hate cold calling, so I create obstacle illusions to give myself a way to rationalize not doing it. There’s the no-call list, of course; but that can be dealt with using an simple on-line search before calling. I have created a whole list of obstacle illusions that I allow to get in my way to put off cold calling; yet, I know that I have to do a certain amount of cold calling in order to continue generating enough business to make a living. So, that is one of my obstacle illusions.

In today’s market, sellers have erected a whole barricade of obstacle illusions to convince themselves that now is not the time to sell. There is certainly a great deal of reality about price erosion and the glut of homes on the market; however, homes are selling everyday, so it is possible to sell now. That’s where real estate professionals come in. There has never been a time when it is more important to have the help of a real estate professional than now. Getting professional help to price your home for the market and to properly prepare it for showings are keys to selling quickly.

The most pathetic thing to see is some small “For Sale By Owner” sign sitting forlornly on someone’s front lawn. You just know that this would-be seller has created an obstacle illusion out of the fees that a Realtor would charge to get the house sold. Never mind that study after study has shown that FSBO sellers actually end up making less on a sale than if it were listed with a Realtor and that the sale takes considerably longer to make (if it ever happens). I’ve had many, many buyers tell me that they won’t even consider going to see one of those homes, because they know that the owner has probably priced it too high and is unlikely to be willing to negotiate. I could go on about the lack of exposure for the house, but you get the point. Trying to FSBO in this market is a losing proposition.

Buyers, too, have become conditioned to erect the “not so fast, let’s look at a few more houses” obstacle illusion for themselves. The “shop ‘til you drop” mentality has taken hold in real estate, because buyers have become convinced that the perfect home at the fire-sale price is just around the corner. Now, I have no problem with buyers who have a good grip on exactly what they want in a house taking their time (and mine) to find it. I’ve gone as long as a year or more looking at houses with buyers, before finding just the right one. What is a bit frustrating is working with buyers who really can’t describe what they’re looking for in a home and how much they are prepared to pay. Often I’ll get an answer like “I’ll know it when I see it.” That runs a big red flag up that these may be shoppers, instead of buyers, especially if it’s accompanied by “I’m in no hurry.” That means that there is really no motivation to do anything.

So whether you’re interested in selling or buying, don’t make it harder on yourself by interjecting obstacle illusions into the process. Let me help you with either task. A part of my job is dealing with those things to make the real estate process easier and more satisfying for you.

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