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Monday, July 29, 2013

Our Code of Ethics...

“It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man that makes us believe the oath.”  (Aeschylus) from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Wow, Aeschylus must have known a Realtor!  The same can certainly be said about our Realtor Code of Ethics. Having the NAR Code of Ethics is oft pointed to as an indication that being a Realtor is a profession and not just a job. I suppose there is some truth to that, but probably there is more truth in Aeschylus’ words (slightly modified to fit here) that - It is not the Code of Ethics that makes us believe the Realtor, but the Realtor that makes us believe the Code of Ethics.

The Code of Ethics in and of itself is a wonderful document; however, if the people involved in the day-to-day practice of real estate see them as something to be bent or ignored altogether, they are just words. That’s why it is the responsibility of every Realtor to not only live by the Code, but to report those who aren’t. There is no room to look the other way when you see a Code violation, because doing so demeans the profession and all who practice it.

The reason that the Code exists in such detail is that too many people in real estate are not ready to live by simple, golden rules, such as “do unto other as you would have them do unto you.” Somehow their value systems have become so distorted that they stop after “Do unto others.”

There are still lots of things in the normal day-to-day life of a Realtor that are not covered by the Code, such as those who feel they need to bully their way through a deal or that they only win if the other side loses in negotiations.  Even a well written Code of Ethics can’t help there - it's not a Code of Acceptable Human Behavior.  You still have to put up with boors in real estate as in life; but at least it’s a start.

So don’t be taken in by the admonitions of “Don’t be such a hard-ass” or “Everybody does it”; if you are involved with a Realtor who is obviously breaking the Code, report it to your local board.  It’s not being hard-ass, it’s being honest and that is one of the bedrocks of the Code to begin with. We are all better off because we have the Code of Ethics, so we also need to be diligent about making sure that it is followed by all.

The Realtor Code of Ethics is celebrating it's 100th year in existence this year. You can read about that and read the Code itself at -

Friday, July 26, 2013

In movies and real estate you must suspend disbelief...

There is a saying or phrase associated with movies which alludes to the fact that in order to enjoy a movie one has to be ready to suspend disbelief – to be ready to allow the story on the screen to unfold and to take it all in as if it could actually be happening.  Some movies are easier than others in which to accomplish this state of suspended disbelief.  Many movies purport to be based upon real happenings – events that were in the news or at least about which one may have heard. Other movies are pure fantasy, such as Star Wars; however, one can temporarily suspend disbelief and imaging that somewhere in a galaxy far, far away…

Suspending disbelief in real estate has more to do with actually dealing with “I can’t believe that that just happened” scenarios than it does with imaginary situations. In real estate one must get used to dealing with things that no rationale human being might imagine would happen, but they do. Most of this has to do with the strange goings on behind the various curtains that veil the real estate process from the prying eyes of the public and the buyers and sellers.

There are many places within the flow of a real estate deal where logic and common sense often require temporary suspension.  There are the sometimes totally absurd requests/requirements of the mysterious underwriters.  There are the sometimes incredible demands of the buyers or the sellers over some minor point – a point that usually equates to less than 1% of the total deal, but for which the parties are willing to sink the entire deal. There are the pesky inputs and demands of the minor character players in the deal – the requirement for some minor thing from the insurance company, in order to write the home owners policy; the reluctance of the title company to provide a title policy without objections on almost anything but a new-build house; and the other mortgage player that shall forever remain behind the curtain – the PMI company – for whatever reason that they are holding things up.

  The parallel between the movies and a real estate deal also cover the emotional roller-coaster that I’ve written about many times before. Every day, from the time the offer is accepted until the closing is over, can seem like the players are living in a daytime soap opera with the need to create a little daily drama. There are emotional ups and downs on a daily basis. An issue is raised and elevate to the level of a panic …and then solved – and then it happens again the next day. Day after day there is an emergency…a panic... and a solution (OR NOT).  Each deal might easily provide the fodder for a television reality show season.

So why do we – the Realtors involved – do this? What can possible justify having to deal with such an emotional cauldron day after day? I could be cynical and say “because we love it.” We don’t love it. No one can claim to love the gut-wrenching roller coaster ride that real estate deals may take you on. I think we love the fact that we are good at dealing with it;  of handling not only our own emotions, but those of the clients involved. Perhaps “love” is the wrong word there. We may feel good about the fact that we are “able” to deal with it.

One of my very perceptive clients recently made the comment ( in the midst of an especially difficult and very emotionally charged deal) that I seldom displayed emotions during the things that had been going on. I told him that many of the things that had happened had evoked emotional responses from me, but that someone had to maintain the only cool voice of reason during the whole ordeal and I had chosen to take that role. When all of the other parties are screaming and crying and letting emotions run rampant, someone has to step out of the maelstrom and provide unemotional guidance and counsel. I had chosen that role, as I often do.

I’ve had clients accuse me of taking the other side - of not representing their interests, but rather that of the other side – in the heat of the emotions of difficult deals. Most have realized later what was happening and have come back to thank me for not joining them in their emotion-driven efforts to sink the deals.

Real estate deals can often be (and are too often today) very emotional.  Things can happen that require that you suspend disbelief and just go with the flow. If you can’t do that, maybe you shouldn’t be in real estate.  It’s a great show, if you just let it happen.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Don't be dissapointed...

“There are two disappointments in life.  One is not getting what you want.  The other is getting it.”  (Oscar Wilde) from my favorite source, the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I was drawn to this quote that Jack used recently by the amazingly simple complexity of it. We are as human beings always striving for something. At the most basic and primitive level that is the struggle to survive; however, few of us are at that level or even give that much thought. Most of us have aspirations – things that we want or want to achieve in life. The things on that list constantly change or evolve, depending somewhat on our stage in life and whether or not we have learned anything from the journey to that stage.  I think that the way that one can avoid being disappointed by getting what you want is to want the right things.   

One of the things that my personal life journey has taught me is that the material things on my list have proven to be for the most part disappointing or less fulfilling once achieved than I had at one time imagined.  Things or possessions have less and less meaning to me as I enter the autumn of my life. Make no mistake, there are things that I have that make life much easier – a home, cars , clothing, etc. But I note that having the biggest and best McMansion or the flashiest car or many other things that I once considered worthwhile to strive for now mean much less to me than having friends and family close by and being able to do things with and for others.

Relationships are seldom mentioned on people’s “bucket list”, but perhaps they should be at the top of the list. Having lots of things without anyone to share them with makes them meaningless. Holding great wealth tightly against one’s breast is not as satisfying as hugging a grandchild who just got his first hit in Little League baseball.

So, I’ve finally realized and started focusing upon the things in life that have real meaning – the people around me – family and friends. If you make what you want to be meaningful and loving relationships with loved ones, I can’t see how you can be disappointed by getting what you want. You’ll end feeling like the richest person in the room.

So take a look at your list of things that you want. If you got everything on the list today, do you think you’d be happy or disappointed? Maybe it’s time to re-write your list.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Test your local real estate market knowledge

At mid-year we are still in a Sellers’ Market in most markets and prices have dramatically increased in some markets (but not all). Distressed sales are down and the appraisers have been able to keep up with the price rises fairly well; so, sales at those higher prices are closing. I track real estate sales in 9 local markets on a weekly basis and publish the stats on those sales every week. Below is a little test to see how knowledgeable you are about those local markets.

The average price per square foot for homes has been on the rise and is once again above $100/Sq Ft in many markets.  See if you can match the markets below to their respective average sold-price-per-square-foot home prices in the markets that I track.

A. Milford                     1. $98
B. Highland                   2. $111
C. Commerce                3. $110
D. White Lake              4. $114
E. West Bloomfield      5. $106
F. South Lyon               6. $92
G. Brighton                   7. $105
H. Green Oak                8. $97
I. Hartland                     9. $103

You can find out by going to and looking under the choice "What have homes in this area sold for?" Scroll down until you find the choices for the Y-T-D data for each market. If you don't want take the time to do that click here.

There are many other interesting statistics available there for each market and the sales in each market are documented month by month. One stat that many people haven't undated their thinking about is the SEV and what that means in the current market. There probably never was a time when it was actually accurate to just double the SEV to find the market value of the house. That is really true right now when sales are averaging better than 2.4 times SEV in most markets. See where your market is in terms of SEV vs. sold prices.

You can also find the latest sales at the Move to Milford web site, updated through the last Sunday. One thing to note in particular is that distressed sales in most markets is down close to or at zero percent of total sales. The days of finding lots of foreclosed houses or short sales is past. There will also be a few, but with the improving economy, and rapidly improving home prices; more and more owners now find themselves above water on their homes or at least better able to service their mortgages.

So visit the web site and get up to date on the latest real estate stats for the area in and around Milford, Michigan.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Granny's Attic Sale coming up soon!

The much anticipated annual Granny’s Attic Sale is coming up July 12 & 13, which just happens to coincide with the Summer Palooza Sale in Downtown Milford. The Milford Historical Society’s annual sale on the lawn and front porch of the Milord Historical Museum is open both days from 9 am until 4 pm. There will be furniture from estate sales and lots of unique items, some antiques, for sale both days.

The annual sale is supplied with items from various estate sales during the year that Duane Frietag conducts, as well as items donated my Historical Society members and others. If you have items that you’ve been meaning to donate somewhere, bring them to the Museum and leave them on the porch before the sale dates.

If you’ve been looking for that rare piece of glassware or china; that funky piece of vintage furniture or that unique items to set off a room or nook in your home, come out and check out this sale.

Monday, July 1, 2013

At least do no wrong to anyone...

From the blog, Jack’s Winning Words comes this little gem - “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” (Shakespeare) This quote is from “All’s Well That Ends Well,” and is advice that a mother gives her departing son.

Her son must have been going away to become a Realtor, because that is great advice for the profession. You have to love dealing with people to be in this profession and there are likely more than a few that you can trust (but not all) and you certainly should try not to do wrong to any. I note that it says do wrong to none and not the words used in the Hippocratic Oath to “Do no harm”.  I guess that’s why there is E&O insurance.

So, Shakespeare’s advice might be something to post above the door and take a quick look at each day as we set about doing real estate. Some days it will be harder than others to love all and many days it’s tough to trust very many but every day we can at least try to do wrong to none.