The other day I had a three-way conversation with two agents who are in the middle of career crises. Both are trying to decide whether to stay or go, interestingly, for opposite reasons. AgentFriend1 has too much business and is burning out and AgentFriend2, well, doesn't. Have too much business, that is. And she's burning out, too.
We talked about burnout and both agents confessed that they become deeply involved in their clients' personal situations and get sucked into the emotional drama of it all. Which isn't uncommon in our business; after all, we ARE deeply involved in the whole mess - if our seller doesn't have enough equity to properly price; if our buyer's loan changes and they have to come up with an additional 5% down; if our listing doesn't appraise and the deal crashes... yes, these events DO affect us both financially and emotionally. And frankly, if they didn't affect us, we probably wouldn't be effective at our jobs.
But you can draw a line and preserve your sanity. Terry Watson calls it "the Monkey." He describes how we wrongly let others put their monkeys on our backs - even though we have our own monkeys to deal with, thank you very much! We real estate agents are really good at accepting our clients' monkeys as our own.
And you know what? Our clients are HAPPY to give us their monkeys and then blame us when things go wrong. Further, we accept that blame - which puts us in a position where we have to apologize for our inability to solve a problem that ISN'T OURS TO SOLVE.
Here's an example. The seller owes $415,000 on his home. The market value is no more than $395,000 and that's pushing it. In order to break even, the seller needs to sell at $430,000 at least. The seller "doesn't want to do a short sale," so he looks to his agent for another solution. What solution does the agent come up with?
1. Price at $439,900 and hope for a miracle
2. Reduce her commission to nothing and price at $420,000 (and hope for a miracle)
Of course, there are other solutions, but we monkey-acceptors want to please, so these are the ones we propose. (And then we're miserable because we have an unsellable product, but that's another story).
Here's another example. You interview for a tenant-occupied listing. The seller doesn't want to inconvenience the tenant, so he asks for a 24-hour showing requirement; for day-time showings only; that you attend all showings, and a 60-day possession. You want to please the seller, so you agree, knowing what he's asking will make the properly unmarketable... and you miserable.
Do too many of these deals and I think burnout IS an inevitability.
Of course, it's easy to advise "Well, just thank the %$SOB^# very much for the opportunity and walk away!" I hear that advice all the time, and sure, that's an option. But there's a better way... a way to respectfully decline the monkey and move forward without alienating someone who could be a wonderful client and future referral source.
Stay tuned...(actually, you might have to wait a week for the sequel - I'm heading out for my vacation tomorrow and have been duly informed that I will NOT spend my vacation on the computer. But maybe I can sneak it in!)
The Monkey Series
Part II Which Monkeys Are Yours? Which Aren't?
Part III Declining the Monkey Part III
Part IV What to Say (or not say) to Decline the Monkey
Part V A real world example of a Monkey Unnecessarily Accepted