Traveling from here to anywhere there is a time when I’m not in a hurry. No rush to get there. I’ve got time. Somewhere between then and now my time ran out and I’m under pressure. I’m stressed. I’m in a hurry. This is not a good feeling, and may not be the time to make a big commitment. Yet, we do. Often.
Not in a hurry feels good. Hope is on my side. Time is on my side. It’s sunshine and happiness. I might even waste some time when I’m not in a hurry. (January is never in a hurry. July can’t wait to get to August. ) There is a point when time turns against me but I won’t know that time until it’s already here. I’ll know it’s here by the stress I feel.
As a REALTOR I meet a lot of people who are like me when it comes to being in a hurry. A typical party in a real estate transaction is not in a hurry to sell or buy. Not today. Decisions made when not in a hurry are most likely to let you remain unhurried. This is fine until it’s not. We don’t go from “not in a hurry” to “in a hurry”. We go to stressed. Under pressure. Fearful. Our commitment to get somewhere is overshadowed by our desire to get out from under the pressure and end the fear.
When we think we are not in a hurry, and we’re feeling really good about our position, we might keep in mind that the feeling really good feeling vanishes when not in a hurry ends. If in a hurry felt as good as not in a hurry that would be cool. It doesn’t. There is value in contemplating the consequences, implications, and other side of happiness when given a choice in the beginning.
Maybe July 2019, maybe not, we will see the new WB 11 Residential Offer to Purchase replace the version we’ve used since 2011. We know for sure it will be bigger than the present nine page document. Better? We can hope.
As time goes by and workarounds become common practice, firms create contingencies on their own addenda to counter the efforts of the miscreant. And then it gets interesting. One firm after another sees something you wrote as useful, copies it, or modifies it and makes the condition their own. By the time the condition has spread through the community of REALTORS multiple versions of the original idea are incorporated into addenda. What looks like another firm’s contingency rarely is exactly alike. The slightest word, “shall or may” for example, will significantly change the power of a contingency in favor of one party.
Eventually the WRA and REEB sit down to modify the WB to comply with current law, and common practice. It seems like every idea ever created to prevent the least common occurrence gets to audition for a place in the new Offer. Not all get accepted but enough do that the document that went in comes out much fatter. Why the document doesn’t come out smaller is because users won’t let go of what they know. Regardless of its uncommon use (Seller right to provide financing when financing denied) wordy terms take up space in 100% of the Offers so that it will be there the .01% of the time it’s used. Asking “WHY is this or that contingency necessary?” would result in the WB coming in at no more pages than the one we have and probably even smaller.
The analytics exist to know if contingencies we need are being left out to allow contingencies we don’t use to live on. Before the next WB goes into use, it might be worth having it analyzed. And if the old shoes don’t get used, we could toss them for good.
The asset you own is what determines your value. You determine the price you charge based on your opinion of the value of your asset. Deciding your value is the job of someone who measures your asset against their problem. It’s interesting that I do not decide my value or your problems. I control only what I do everyday to build my asset.
For real estate licensees looking for an asset to build might look to the Wisconsin Real Estate Law Manual for an asset which will lift them high above the ability of most people in the field. When you can be trusted to find solutions, articulate agreements that work, and construct contracts that meet the test of law, you will have value. You will earn clients.
Everyone can do the easy work well enough. That will get you by until it doesn’t. Doing easy well enough or better than most will sustain a person until they tire of the mundane or get passed up by people who want to be more. Few people can do the hard work with excellence. Every day there is an opportunity to improve our contract knowledge assets. For every improvement we make in the area of contracts knowledge, our value increases for the public.
Seth Godin Blog
“You know what I meant.” That’s the first response a REALTOR claims when their ambiguous contract term is interpreted literally (as it’s written). Knowing ambiguity when we see it is what we are licensed to know. We are also expected to be able to put thoughts into coherent sentences with enough detail for people to know what we wrote.
The key ingredient in banana bread is overripe bananas. You can say banana bread is the produce of experienced bananas. Experience is often touted as an important consideration when hiring a REALTOR. Experience on its own is overrated. (And I have experience.) We all know a person so experienced that the business has passed them by and they’re still practicing in 1972. (That’s the way we always do it.) The world if full of experienced professionals who are inexperienced and incompetent in the areas which have gigantic risk potential for clients. This is where you don’t know what you got until it’s needed.
The value of a REALTOR in a transaction is unknown on day 1; maybe expected, but the extent of the value is not known. A $30,000 commission looks like a lot of money for what someone thinks we do, and that same $30,000 looks like a bargain when we deliver an outcome that accomplishes the most important objectives of a client. Experience is not the overriding factor in value. Knowledge is. With knowledge of contract structure, proper grammar, sentence structure, and an ability to articulate thoughts in writing will boost the relatively new REALTOR over the heads of many. The desire to learn things that can empower a client and be the difference between success and failure is the energy to move you forward to learn. The good news is this desire is there for the taking. Regardless of experience, we can grow if we want to. We don’t have to be green to grow, but we will rot if we settle for ripe.
Before we draft offers we better know the overriding objective of the client. (There can be more than one objective, but only one that is do or die.) If that Objective is something subjective, such as “protect me”, we could discover what “protect me” looks like to the client. What I fear is not the same as what another person fears. I need to know what they want to be protected from and be sure the protection I am suggesting is not protecting them from fears of my own and diminishing their offer.
What could the client’s goal be? Get my offer accepted is one goal. Is it overriding? If it is, we better know what the contingencies we suggest look like to the people on the other side of the table. If the objective is to protect me from whatever could go wrong, we can do that so well that the offer is unacceptable to the Seller.
There is a balance in most cases. Once accepted the objective may change to something subjective, but inserting protection without the client having the opportunity to decide before the Offer is submitted is a sure way to contribute to having an otherwise acceptable offer rejected.
To know a person’s overriding objective, we have to (1) Ask questions about the client’s risk tolerance. (2) Know what the different contingencies do and don’t do. (3) Have a dialogue about choices to strengthen or weaken the chance of accomplishing the client’s objective. Once we know what matters most to the client we can begin precision crafting of an offer with the objective in mind.
Big Potential. Author Shawn Achor makes the case that we all have unique skills. Alone, those skills serve us well. When you and I and him and her combine our skills is when our skills serve others exponentially. The pursuit of achievement alone will never exceed the achievement of collaboration and respect for the skills, talents, vision of a collective effort.
Real estate licensees who empower their clients to be part of the evaluation of information, and a partner in the strategy decision prove the power of collaboration of unique skills and may not even know it. The same for firms. Top down authoritarian corporate cultures are especially effective at restricting creativity and customization. That’s fine if your goal is to turn the art of real estate into assembly line work. And who wants to be part of that?
To see the power of respecting the dignity of someone’s work for what it means to the world as opposed to respecting a person’s position or bank account, look no further than the grocery store checkout. As your items are rung up and passed down to the end of the conveyor the work of shopping is not done. The quality of products you selected depends on the skill of the person with the bag in their hand. The groceries are coming down the line in random disorder. Bread first, fruit second, cans and pounds of meat mixed in. Watch the person share their skill; it’ll matter when you get home, but you may not think about it unless something is squished. The person bagging our groceries has developed a skill of bagging, not just similar products in one bag, but products which will protect the food items from contamination and physical damage. Notice the bags are relatively equal in weight. All of the space is used, yet none of the bags are overloaded. And more often than not, every bag fits nicely into the cart for you to wheel out to your car.
Bruised fruit, flat bread, meat touching cleaning products will catch our attention. Those that aren’t will be used in meals we prepare with our skills. The meal is better because the skills of more than yourself came together. See the dignity in all work and give respect to the the person who excels at their work regardless of whether or not it’s a job we would or could do. Consider this, who do you want bagging your groceries? The person who cares enough to do it right, or the $100 million a year CEO who hasn’t seen the inside of grocery store since before scanners?
“Hi, I’m looking at your (Offer)(Counter-Offer) (Amendment). I have a few questions. Let’s talk to clarify what you are asking for. Instead of sending counters (or amendments) back and forth let’s just work it out.”
The REALTOR making the call is asking for information which is likely confidential. The suggestion to “work it out” and “clarify” is an invitation to risky adventure. Maybe you recognize these questions and statements:
- What does your client want?
- Will they accept_____?
- How long have you been selling real estate?
- Will your client be willing to _____?
- Will your client come up to ______?
- Does your client want to get out of the Offer?
- I’ve been selling real estate ____years!
- Are you new at real estate?
- I’ve never seen anyone do this!
- We always______.
- If I can get my client to __________ can you get your client to __________?
When an agent wants to clarify, they probably want to take you to task more than anything. If only a few of the random 11 statements and questions are raised the conversation will tread dangerously close to ethics and legal obligation violations.
Is there really anything gained by participating in this conversation? The Buyer and Seller are parties to a contract. The licensees are not. Licensees have disclosure, confidentiality, and fairness obligations. If a licensee is asking another licensee for confidential information and gets it, what is the receiving licensees responsibility? If you said, keep the information confidential, you’re right. Sharing confidential information is a license law violation. Both licensees are on the wrong side of the confidentiality obligation. If I represent my client will do this, that, or the other thing, I have liability I can’t afford.
The point of this is: Conversations are best kept between buyer and seller. The methods available to us as licensees to facilitate these conversations are Notices, Amendments, Offers to Purchase, and Counter-Offers signed by the initiating party. If there is a better way than using approved form for staying within the boundaries of our license show me. The phone calls and long emails between licensees are useful—–for gathering evidence and facilitating conflict.