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Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Rules

Last year I had a house guest visiting from England.  We were looking at TV one night trying to find something we both wanted to watch.   While channel surfing, she stopped on NCIS.  She knew the series and wanted to see the show.   

I had never seen NCIS, so I started watching it for the first time.   A few episodes later and with some explanation, I began to understand the premise and characters of the show.   I became hooked and started looking forward to the reruns on USA, so I could watch the series from the beginning with the pilot episode.   

I started loving the characters: McGee, Ducky, Ziva, Tony et al -- and of course, the silent, gut-driven Leroy Jethro Gibbs. 

For those of you who don’t watch NCIS, Gibbs (AKA Mark Harmon) has a set of rules by which he leads his NCIS team as well as his personal life.   From time to time, a rule is mentioned and the team reacts.   Learning Gibbs's rules is how the NCIS team operates with so much synchronicity and cohesion.  Some of the more popular rules, that I began to recognize included: 
Rule #9 – Never go anywhere without a knife.    
Rule #39 – There is no such thing as a coincidence   
While Gibbs is a bit of a maverick, he is also very consistent and doesn't break the rules.   (Although in one episode he did write down on paper, what appeared to be a new rule:  Rule #51 - Sometimes you're wrong.)

I started thinking about rules.   

I feel like I have rules or principles that drive my life and personal relationships.  

But what about work?  What are the rules that are needed to navigate the ins and outs of this highly unpredictable and demanding business?  

If I could only do this job -  just by the rules and everyone knew the rules and they reacted accordingly... it would be ever so much easier.  

Some of Gibb's rules might even apply.  For example, 
Rule #8 – Never take anything for granted.
Rule #28 - If you need help, ask.
Rule #3 - Never be unreachable. 

And there are some of Gibb's rules that can never apply.  When it comes to real estate, you can forget: Rule #13 - Never, ever involve lawyers.

And then there are some of Gibb's rules, that I sometimes wish I could adopt.  But clearly they are just not my rules.  

Rule # 6 - Never say you're sorry.  It's a sign of weakness.
Rule #10 - Never get personally involved in a case.

So here goes.  What are some are my rules of real estate, that I wish everyone followed and believed?

Jones's Rules of Real Estate

I am borrowing my first three rules from the memorable and remarkable, Wendy Bergseth...

Rule #1 - Nice Matters.
Wendy would always say, "Be nice."  I'm always amazed at how some of the principals in this work seem to think that acting rude or being a jerk is how to get a better deal.  Trust me, it isn't.  Buying and selling real estate does not need to be unpleasant. 
Rule # 2 - If a house isn't selling, you have two options: either "raise" the house or lower the price. 
Often sellers think that more marketing will sell a house.  They'll look to their realtor for that silver bullet, that is going to make the difference.   I wish it was that simple.   But the reality is a house needs to sell within a market.   When there is a surplus of inventory, your house has to be the best one in its price point in order to be picked.   
As a seller you have two choices - either make your house the best one (take down wallpaper, re-stage furniture, de-clutter... whatever it takes) or lower the price.   
It really is as simple as that. 
Rule # 3 - Some money is better than no money.   
Wendy would say this all the time.  When sellers would balk at a lower offer, she would help us explain to them that this was the offer they had.   Sometimes it's better to accept a lower offer and move on, than to wait for that illusive next offer.  
Rule #4 - Pricing your home correctly from day 1 is the most strategic marketing decision you can make. 
Anyone who has read my blog or worked with me knows that this is my personal mantra!
Rule #5 - If you want to sell your home, then be a seller who wants to sell. 
I often say there are two types of sellers. Those who want to sell their home and those who want someone to buy their home.  And there’s a huge difference. 
The sellers who want to sell their home will do anything and everything to get their home sold. They understand that it’s not personal. It is business and they are selling a product. 
The other kind of sellers: those who want someone to buy their home, just put their home out there - as is - and then say to themselves, “My house is special. Everyone is going to love it.” 
It simply doesn't work that way -- buyers rarely buy your house as is.  They are looking for their house.  
Rule #6 - There is no such thing as a perfect house.
Every home requires compromises.   Buyers keep looking and thinking they are going to find the perfect home.   It's not going to happen.  The perfect home exists only in heaven.  
Rule #7 - An offer is never an insult.  
I'm always amused when a client tells me that an offer they received is "an insult." Of all the homes this buyer could have picked, they took the time to write an offer for your house, and you're insulted?  Really?   
An offer is simply a starting point for negotiations.  You may not like the offer, but react with gratitude, that you received it!
 Rule #8 - When in doubt, disclose.   
I've written about this before: Full DisclosureDisclose, disclose, disclose.... 
Rule #9 - The right house will be there, when you're ready to buy. 
I've seen this happen over and over again in this business.   I remember my cousin crying for a day, when she lost out on her dream house.   Six months later an even nicer, less expensive house that she liked better came on the market.   It was meant to be.  
Rule #10 - A property is worth what a buyer is willing to pay and what a seller is willing to accept.  
It doesn't matter what Zillow says.  It doesn't matter what your friends say.   It doesn't matter that your house is nicer than your neighbor's house and it sold for $x.  It doesn't matter what another realtor says.   It doesn't matter what you have "invested" in your house.   It doesn't matter what an appraisal said. 
At the end of the day, a house is only worth what a buyer will pay for it and a seller will accept. Period. 
Rule # 11 - The inspection report is not a punch list for the sellers. 
See Inspections - Ugghh! or How important is a home inspection?
Rule #12 - Empathize. 
Or as Mother always said to us, "Stop thinking about yourself." 
It amazes me how people think about this process only from their own perspective.  There are two sides to every real estate transaction.  Trying to understand the other side, is the first step in moving through the process of buying and selling real estate.   I wrote about this as well.   Demonization
Rule #13 - Once you put your house on the market,  say good-bye to it.  
The house ceases to be your home as soon as you put the sign out front; it has now become a commodity that needs to compete in the housing market.  One of the hardest things for sellers is to emotionally detach from their home.   It's so personal to them. It's emotional and it hurts when others don't feel the same way about the place.   
To a buyer your house is simply a property to be evaluated -- it's no longer your home.  
Rule #14 - Moving is not for the faint of heart.
Short of war, death, illness, torture, calamitous weather or accident, terrorist attack or divorce, I can't think of a more stressful and potentially unpleasant experience than moving.  Be sure you understand why you're moving and why you are putting yourself through this ordeal of an experience.  Don't waste your time or put your house on the market, if you're not committed to actually making the move.  
Rule #15 - Don't look back.   
I write this rule more for myself than anyone else.  It's so easy to second guess your words, decisions and actions.  It's not that you shouldn't take lessons learned and use them for the future, but constantly revisiting something serves no purpose.  
Be joyful in your new home.  Remember the good times from your last home.   Recognize that everyone probably did the best job they could, given the circumstances that they were presented.   So often people wonder, if they could have sold their home for more, or whether they should have bought a different house.   
Maybe this sounds rather Zen-like -- but you are where you're supposed to be! 
So these are my rules... so far.  Maybe like Gibbs, I'll add more as a go along.   
Ah, if only everyone agreed and followed my rules -- how much easier this would all be!   

1 comment:

  1. Great rules to manage your real estate practice by, Anne! I do agree with your rules and practice most of them myself already. Grateful for some new ones to try here! Thank you for your insight! Arla Unwin