Doing Whatever It Takes

[photopress:woman.jpg,thumb,alignright]I have to admit that it felt a little odd, even to me, for us to be personally painting the kitchen of my newest listing. We, the owner and I, were getting his place ready to go on market. He had his hands full with his own projects that needed to be done before we entered the listing in the mls. The color scheme of the condo was already transcendental. I wanted the kitchen to be a light color, because darker colors minimize space, and the kitchen in an 827 square foot condo is not something you want to minimize.

In my own house, I like to “repeat” a color by adding different amounts of a “smashing” color in one space , to white paint for tone on tone effects. And given this kitchen had a “pass through” to the dining room/living room “flexible” space, I wanted the kitchen to be “a glow” of the color in the eating area. Given there is not much wall space in the kitchen, I decided it would be easier and faster if I just did it myself, rather than try to explain how to mix the color to the right degree of “glow”.

I was thinking of “anonymous Joe” when I was making the bed yesterday before the first showings. It was “kind of” made already 🙂 I went around changing lightbulbs from 60 watt to 100 watt in the entry and hall, scrubbing the grout in the tile floor of the entry and kitchen, taking the “mauve” colored towel the owner had used that morning off the towel bar and ditching it in his hamper, because the mauve towel he had used was clashing badly with the citrus colored wall behind it. Turned his hand towel, the one I had picked out as “the right color” (but he wasn’t supposed to USE!) around so the tag wasn’t showing. Several other truly “anal” things, standing in the doorway of every single space from every single angle, and tweaking until I was “satisfied”.

This morning I was thinking of Russ’ before the fact contract, with a long list of “services and metrics” that all agents will provide to all. Some list of generic things that people think provide value, when really every single person needs “Whatever it takes”, and whatever it takes changes from individual to individual, be they buyer clients or seller clients. In 16 years I’ve never had to paint someone’s kitchen before, and frankly hope I never have to again. But at this time, for this client, that’s what needed to be done. The poor owner was wasted! It was hot, he had been working on “his stuff” until he was ready to slash his wrists, and I just rolled up my sleeves and chipped in from morning until night until we were done. Sometimes doing it with them, helps keep them going and sometimes my crawling around in every space helps me find things that need to be fixed, that the owner truly just never noticed. The more I do, the more I can head the home inspector off at the pass, so the seller knows his true net proceeds better, after repairs, before I hit the button sending him “live” into the MLS.

I never sat in his house with a little marketing flip chart. I never provided some big list of “services and metrics”. I didn’t even have a written contract saying I would be paid, while putting in twenty to thirty hours helping him get the place ready. When he said half jokingly after all the work was done, “maybe I should stay here”, I took his hand and looked him in the eye and said, “Seriously, if that is what you want to do, if you decide not to sell it after all, that’s OK. Don’t feel like you have to sell it now, just because we worked so hard getting it ready. You do whatever makes you happy.

I remember training a few new agents and making a little bag for each of them to put in their trunk with windex and paper towel and toilet cleaner and brushes (for the vacant house toilet rings). I remember a new agent who “got in it for the money” refusing to touch the bag and saying “I don’t want that in the trunk of my car!”. I remember him refusing to go measure the unfinished basement size, because he saw a cobweb and he had his “good suit” on. No, he’s not in the business anymore…actually he never did sell a house and yes, I did fire him and he went to a local big firm before he quit altogether.

Real estate is a business like none other, and their truly IS a reason why “we make the big bucks”. There’s a lot of reasons why we make the “big bucks”. But most importantly it’s because we do “Whatever It Takes” to sell the house “For the HIGHEST Price, In the Least Amount of Time and with the Least Inconvenience to the Seller”. This owner should have an offer within 3-5 days of “going live”, at the highest price achieveable, and be able to go back to watching his TV (which I have moved 🙂 from his living room to his bedroom). To do this job right, we can’t have that House Values goal of having 20 to 30 more “leads” this month!

We can’t, as an industry, keep doing less and less for more and more. And frankly, Joe and other consumers cannot keep hounding me about exactly what I am going to do, before I meet them and see “their product”. Because clearly there are different prices because of the different amounts of effort needed to sell their home at the highest price, in the least amount of time and with the least inconvenience to them (short showing period).

Those who want to trade in one “price fits all” for a lower “price fits all”, well…I thought you wanted a “fair price” for the job at hand and an end to the price being “fixed” at “6%”. If all you want to do is trade in one price fits all for a lower price fits all, with the guy who needs more service STILL getting paid by the guy who needs less service….I truly hope that’s not the case.

Let’s let each client pay for their individual service, some higher and some lower and always a fair price for the service required to achieve the goal. I truly hope THAT change is the one coming down the pike. Let’s end “price fixing” period. Not just trade in one fixed price for a different fixed price.

Because if it’s just about a tug of war on which fixed price to use…then I’ll have to move over to the other side of that rope. Please tell me it ain’t so.