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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The ultimate cop-out – “It is what it is”

I posted a comment on the sorry state of affairs in the real estate world on the local MLS bulletin board yesterday, specifically about the sleazy practice of listing houses that are in a short-sale mode for ridiculously low prices and then going to the bank later to see if they would take them. It is little more than a bait and switch scam on the buyer and usually a big waste of time. Basically, it was the same rant that I posted here; but aimed, I thought, at other real estate professionals who might share my frustration over the time wasted by agents and customers on these essentially fraudulent postings.

“It is what it is” was the answer that it seemed most of them either returned or agreed with. It is what it is and we all have to live with it. It is what it is and we can’t change it. It is what it is, so get used to it and figure out how to do business that way. BULL! It only is what we all allow it to be. Lazy, stupid, wasteful behavior should never become tolerated and even accepted under the banner of “it is what it is.”

Do we see racist behavior and say, it is what it is? Do we see news of another drive-by shooting and say, it is what it is? Can we hear about an invasion of one country by another and whisper, it is what it is? Do we see some punk grab the purse of a little old lady and mutter, it is what it is? If some sleaze-bag sold you a product that didn’t work, would you shrug and say, it is what it is?

It is pathetic that some Realtors have apparently become enamored of the questionable, sleazy, and downright dishonest practices going on in the short-sale and foreclosure markets. Many see no alternative to playing this game. Of course the crew that haunts that particular forum is an interesting collection of characters for whom “it is what it is” is probably standard operating procedure.

Friends, it isn’t what it is; it’s what we let it become. Some Realtors are making a killing off playing these games or some variation of them. The rest of us are wasting a lot of time trying to do honest business on behalf of our buyers. Sure, there are some bargains to be had, if you wait out the banks, but few of them are in this pre-foreclosure state called the short-sale. Wait until the bank owns the house to try to get a deal.

As for me, I prefer to provide my clients with a clear and honest picture of what is going on in a short–sale (the games that the listing agent and the bank are playing with each other and with the buyer(s)) and give them as much insight as I can provide into the time that will be required and the patience, as well as the risk (fairly high) that nothing will come out of having waited around for the bank for 4-6 weeks (or longer).

Short-sales are a fool’s game that should be played mainly by those who see the whole process as a game. If you are trying to buy a house, look elsewhere and buy a house. If you enjoy dabbling in the stock market or an occasional trip to the casino, then lob a few low-ball bids in on short-sale houses. You won’t get the houses 99 times out of 100, but maybe you’ll have fun.

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