The Abuse Realtors Get in a Declining Market....

By
Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

My final sale of 2006 was a lovely family that was moving from out of state and into Virginia.  They had been hosed by the Realtor who sold their home.  A really sad situation in which they very likely could have taken action citing several ethics violations.  Long story short, I gained their trust and got them the house of their dreams at $50,000 below list price...something I never thought would fly.  It was the lowest price that the particular community had seen.  I was admired by buyers agents, and hated by listing agents in the community.

Fast forward six months.  To my surprise, this family, who wrote me a rave review for my "Brag Book"" and kept in touch with me a couple times a month, called me to see what the market value of their home would be.  The market had declined steadily since and was on the brink of a bigger drop. 

I went in, chatted with them about neighborhood comps, and was confronted with an ugly situation.  If their home wasn't worth what they paid, WHY DID I SELL IT TO THEM.  It was a rather uncomfortable situation as the wife yelled at me and the husband questioned my expertise.  Unfortunately, there were also the last of my 100% financed buyers.  So they were underwater just by virtue of the falling market.

The husband threw out comps at me that I had not uncovered.  HUGE numbers.  I went home, did the research, and realized these were comps from the year BEFORE they even bought the house.  2005 numbers for a 2007 market.  I politely explained that in the decline we were seeing, it would be hard to go back 90 DAYS for comps...forget 2005!!! 

Sadly, I ended up being the evil person that "sold them an overpriced house", and they hired aa agent that took their overpriced listing and started to whittle away at it bit by bit, costing them THOUSANDS in the process.

It's sad to see, especially for a family I really enjoyed helping, but they are the slow track to a very sad ending.  And the one comp I had pulled for their house, which they could not believe, had also been listed this way.  Overpriced to start and chased the market down, down, down. 

I hate that this family sees me this way.  And it made me question why I had gotten into real esate at all.  But, despite the turn of events with this family,and other angry sellers I interview with, I love my job.   Sometimes, it is just necessary for people to throw the blame somewhere rather than accept the market and move on.  Unfortunatlely, we REALTORS have a huge target on our backs for those looking to blame.

Remember, you don't abuse your doctors when they tell you the cure for an illness.  You don't abuse your lawyer who is trying to save you thousands in a lawsuit.  WHY ABUSE YOUR REALTOR?  We are there to give you the best possible advice about the largest investment most families will ever make.

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northern virginia
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Rainer
32,487
Danielle V. Lewis
DDR Realty - Newburgh, NY
DDR Realty
It's unfortunate this happened to you...It's human nature to not accept what's not favorable. Just learn from it and move on as quickly and best as possible.
Nov 12, 2007 01:50 AM #1
Rainer
54,938
Gaylen Thornton
Desert Heritage Real Estate - Surprise, AZ
I have had several similar experiences with clients who are going off of 2005 numbers and can't understand what has happened to them. I too felt bad that they felt this way about me but I didn't do anything wrong morally or ethically so I had to smile and move on. Thanks for sharing your experience as I know I'm not alone and neither are you.
Nov 12, 2007 01:50 AM #2
Rainmaker
564,223
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -
Holding an agent responsible for the state national economy, skyrocketing oil prices or the subprime meltdown is absurd.  Tell your clients we don't make the market, we evaluate it and report it to them. 
Nov 12, 2007 01:51 AM #3
Rainer
18,474
Phaedra Hubbard
My Florida Home Store - Clearwater, FL
Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor Real Estate Exper
Thats not fair that they put any blame on you. A home is an investment, by nature all investments can go up or down. I have yet to recieve a call like that, hopefully I never do.
Nov 12, 2007 01:53 AM #4
Rainmaker
2,189,919
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Chris, this is awful and the clients were inexcusably rude to you. But not everybody is capable of looking in the mirror to find the person responsible for their own mistakes.


Nov 12, 2007 01:55 AM #5
Rainmaker
58,563
Diana Turnbloom
Escrowcoord.com - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

DianaI'll tell you why our clients sometimes abuse us Chris Ann!

Because real estate is an EMOTIONAL businss for most home buyers and sellers. You know that list of top 10 most stressful things in a persons life? One of them is MOVING! For most folks the biggest investment of their life is purchasing a home and frequently it's scary! You cannot ignore this aspect of real estate. Some people respond to stress inappropriately through poor coping skills. My suggestion is to have good control of your clients. How do you do this? Through education. Well educated clients are less likely to have objections because they understand the process! This means you explain to your clients the possible pitfalls of purchasing real estate and help them to understand the long term benefits. After that, it's up to the clients to make that "leap" or not. Sometimes it's hard not to take attacks personally. But that's part of the business. Welcome to my World! Diana

Nov 12, 2007 02:00 AM #6
Ambassador
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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

This is one of the problems with consumers who try to play real estate agent.  They don't understand the market. 

This is why I believe that the new NAR advertisement is so dangerous.  They're selling home buying as an investment in a declining market.

BUT, don't feel bad about these folks.  They appear to be obsessed with the valuation of their real estate "holdings".  They are irrational. 

I'd quickly cross them off my list.  You're not responsible for the market.  No one agent is. 

Nov 12, 2007 02:01 AM #7
Rainer
58,303
Jennifer Esposito
JenRan Realty, LLC - Woodstock, CT
What a terrible thing to happen to you.  You handled it well, perhaps over time when they calm down they will understand the market is always changing.
Nov 12, 2007 02:15 AM #8
Rainmaker
564,223
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

The securities industry goes through the same thing in a down market, but they seem to handle it better than we do. 

In a down market, stockbrokers and equity industry advisors tell their clients not to cut and run.  Here's how the securities industry handles a market downturn:

  • Their mantra is "stay the course" and "buy & hold". 
  • They discourage short-term speculation 
  • They advocate "dollar cost averaging", meaning that you keep buying even if the market may be headed downward, thereby averaging your acquisition cost per share. 
  • They point to long-term statistics on stock ownership (if you look at long term stats for homeownership, they look pretty good too). 

We could learn a few things from our counterparts in the equities business!

Nov 12, 2007 02:17 AM #9
Rainer
6,585
Cindy Royster
Long and Foster Real Estate - Manassas, VA
Hi Chris, I too work in the PWC market, I have experienced the same thing. We educate them the best we can with facts, we learn something from it and move on.  Rejection from a family that you built such a rapport with is painful.  I had a similar situation with a family I had become very close with. The frustration is not you, the frustration is the declining market.  Do not take it personally and move on.  We can't make everyone happy, no matter how hard we try.  Focus on the ones you did.  
Nov 12, 2007 02:37 AM #10
Rainmaker
94,887
Nancy Pav
Century 21 Redwood Realty - Ashburn, VA
Nancy Pav, Your "GottaHave" Realtor
Home buying is an investment, normally a long term one.   Recently we had appreciations from 10 to 20%-that's no longer the case.  I have told people that if they don't need to sell, then they shouldn't.  And I also tell them that I purchased my home in 2005 as well...so I personally feel there pain. 
Nov 12, 2007 03:17 AM #11
Rainmaker
214,937
Mike and Dawn Lewis
The Lewis Team at Keller Williams - San Diego, CA
The Lewis Team at Keller Williams in San Diego CA

Chris,

You have the right attitude and you love what you do. Your sellers are not alone. Many Americans areupside down and it's unfortunate but true. I'm sure you didn't force them to buy their home and if you're carrying around any guilt, Don't, it's not your fault. My wife and I sold hundreds of homes in 2003, 04, 05 and 06 and many of them are now worth less than what they were when they were purchased. Many of the homeowners took out seconds to buy cars and toys. People make their own choices. I know it's not fun when friends and family are in that situation - they can lash out.

Mike Lewis

Nov 12, 2007 03:18 AM #12
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3,092,697
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
Thanks for all the feedback!!  And the advice. 
Nov 12, 2007 07:11 AM #13
Rainmaker
117,777
Anne Clark
Metro Referrals - Gainesville, VA

Ouch.  Why did you sell it to them?  Because they wanted to BUY it.  Why do people always have to find someone else to blame for things that either just happen, or bad choices they made?

Jul 27, 2010 07:32 AM #14
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3,092,697
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Realtors® have to take a lot of guff like this.  It's all right.  They bought a beautiful home with me and sold it, for what i told them they would, with another agent. 

Jul 27, 2010 07:45 AM #15
Rainmaker
564,223
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Some consumers are just unable to take any personal responsibility for their actions.  They need someone to blame.  Sorry to hear you got caught in the crossfire.

Jul 27, 2010 09:11 AM #16
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

It happens.  What can you do?  Life goes on.

Jul 27, 2010 09:15 AM #17
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Chris Ann Cleland

Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
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