July 2, 2021
Laura Kelly Mance
CRB, REALTOR® / President
I have wracked my brain trying to come up on an article that fits the theme of this month’s Journal; historical homes. Actually, I was raised in a home built in 1880 in New Jersey. What was a 3-car garage for us was once a horse stable for the mode of transportation at the time. We had huge hundred-year-old trees and my Dad swore loudly when the 20,000 gallon oil tank under the back driveway had to be filled every winter. Now that was a historic house!
Not a bit like Arizona where, “built in the 1990’s” is considered an “older home.” I considered focusing on the history of plumbing and did learn that until 1849 flush toilets were luxuries only found in hotels. But there isn’t a lot else interesting about indoor plumbing other than the fact that it progressed nearly as fast as cell phones, but the appliances got larger rather than smaller.
I came close to giving up on the theme until lunch gave me a jolt of creative energy. I know something historical. My real estate career. I’m coming up on 40 years and have lived through many markets, customs and practices. I think you’ll agree that some of the changes we’ve made are for the better and others may not be improvements at all.
I’ll begin at the kitchen table. That’s where we used to present offers to Sellers. The listing agent was present and the agent who wrote the offer for the Buyer as well. I would talk a little about the Buyers including their employment, apparent credit worthiness, what they liked about the house and finally what their offer was and the rationale behind it. Then I would ask if the Seller or Listing Agent had any questions and remind them that since I was being paid by the Seller, I was representing the Seller. I would leave and the Seller and listing agent would prepare their response.
These days, you’d be hard put to find a listing agent willing to allow you to present an offer in person at the kitchen table but I think it’s a real shame that so many Buyer’s agents submit offers by email without even a call to the agent. I recall receiving an offer like that on a condo I was selling. It was an investor loan, came in 10% under asking price and was for an out of state Buyer. I didn’t even counter. I presumed it was a bottom feeder investor and said as much. Only then did the agent reply that the Buyer was a Dad being transferred and he didn’t want to sell the family home until the school year was over so it had to be an investor loan. He selected my condo because of the patch of grass out front that he knew his kids would enjoy when they visited. Had I known that, of course I would have countered!
We didn’t have fax machines, electronic signatures or scanning. We delivered offers and counters and addendums by driving them to the other agents’ office. We met, shook hands, got to know each other and were friendly. That’s also how we got into the homes. We picked up keys at the listing agents’ office much of the time. Most of you have had a transaction where the other agent got snarly once or twice right? You’d be surprised how much less that happens in person. Speaking of phones, we eventually had pagers to tell us who to call but we had to find a phone booth and have a conversation. We didn’t have as much trouble as we do now, misinterpreting texts.
You’ve all heard of “the book” that came out once a month with all the listings in it and a black and white photo taken of the front of the house by the MLS. We updated the book every week by meeting at the Black Angus on Broadway for breakfast and would announce new listings, sales and price reductions. Everyone went, regardless of company. We knew each other.
Not all our habits were better then. We went out to lunch a lot and the builders had HUGE grand opening parties that most of us shouldn’t have driven home from. We used carbon paper to make multiple copies of our offers and that was eventually replaced by NCR paper but press hard! Yes, the offers were handwritten and yes, many were nearly impossible to interpret.
Agency came to Arizona and all of a sudden, we had to explain that we were really representing the Buyer unless we were representing the Seller or both. At the time, many agents thought agency meant “adversary” and that gave rise to the expressions “my Buyer” and “my Seller.” Nothing good came from that.
There are a great many efficiencies in our business practices today and we’d all be lost without them. But just like an old house, there are aspects of our former practice that would serve us well today. Communicate verbally with the other agent throughout the transaction. Not always but enough. Before you write an offer ask the listing agent what the Seller might like to see in that offer. Before you send that text or email or BINSR, read it as if you’re the recipient. Is it clear, concise, and kind? Will it help you get the answer you’re looking for?
How does this apply today? An agent said to me recently, “If you’re in a multiple offer situation, your relationship with the other agent may make all the difference.” No one wants to go dancing with someone they know to be a bad dancer. Be the agent who other agents know and want to work with.
Laura Kelly Mance, CRB
President, Long Realty Company