Parrots and other wildlife found in real estate

Surprisingly, this story doesn’t involve a seller’s avian pet that repeated every nasty comment the Realtor told potential buyers about the home they were looking at. Nor is this about me selling a house to a Jimmy Buffett fan, but I’m sure that has happened more than once.

No, this is a much worse tale for the buyer, and the seller.

There are a lot of real estate professionals (and unprofessionals), who will do anything to keep their client from firing them, and that mainly comes down to never telling them that they say, think, or do anything wrong. They take a phrase my fellow Chicago-land native Bill Murray used during a Saturday Night Live skit back in the 1970s. Every question asked, his character answered, “That’s true, you are absolutely correct.”

I refer to these agents as “parrots.”

Through good (or paranoid) intentions, I’ve seen too many buyer agents refuse to tell their buyers anything that the buyer doesn’t want to hear, regardless of how unreasonable the buyer’s expectations may be. They answer YES to any request, regardless of how nonsensical it is. I’ve heard these parrots tell me that their buyer would like to move in, before closing — for free!

This leads the buyer to assume that annoying aspects such as facts, contractual rights and responsibilities, don’t matter as much as feelings. The listing agent/messenger who relays those pesky facts to the buyer/buyer’s agent, as in moi, is often confused with Darth Vader.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a buyer agent say, “I don’t want to get caught up in the contract, I just want my people to be happy,” I wouldn’t have to close any more deals. I’d be set.

And this book blog would be wildly different.

When a buyer is stuck with a parrot, it’s worse than being on their own, because all the information they receive comes from an echo chamber. The lesson here is that it’s in everyone’s best interest for an agent to be candid, to tell the truth no matter how painful.

On the opposing end of the Realtor spectrum is the Angry Goat. They are going to butt heads with the other agent, magnify mistakes, and never listen to anything. They make every deal unnecessarily difficult and dramatic, perhaps as a way of “showing off” for their buyer. It’s a little bit of, “Hey, look at how great I am negotiating for you by being obstinate. Never mind, that I’m not really doing anything important.”

But here is the lesson on why you shouldn’t be represented by said goat.

A lot of agents tend to forget that, whether the deal works out, whether they ever deal with that particular buyer (or seller) again, if they stay in real estate in this market, they’re almost certainly going to deal with me, or one of my associates, again. Who knows? Next time they might be the listing agent and I might be the buyer agent. The real estate world is very small, and reputations can be made or ruined quickly.

Then there are the “sheep.”

Over the years, when I’ve hosted a public open house, I’ve had numerous opportunities to observe how other agents show a house to their clients. Most of the time, they don’t show it. They might open the door for the buyer, but then they just follow the buyer around, saying “uh-huh,” and occasionally looking up from their phone. They’re like sheep, just following the buyer around, not adding any insight or value.

Start an actual conversation that doesn’t involve a zoo with Joan today.