The Four Horsemen of Deals Dead

Mortgage and Lending with US Bank NMLS: 22343

The Four Horsemen of Deals Dead


My wife likes to joke that all I do for my job is talk to people.  "I hear you in there yucking it up all day..." So maybe there is always an element of the truth in jest, but an aspect of these conversations that she does not take into consideration is the near-constant battle I fight fending deals from The Four Horsemen; Delay, Indecision, Unfounded Expertise and The Unreasonable Pursuit of Perfection. When these vigilantes appear over the horizon of any real estate transaction, having a powerful defense can turn them away and save even the most vulnerable purchase or refinance. 


The enemies of our real estate transactions can be real persons; buyers, sellers, family members, agents, lenders, underwriters, appraisers --- you name it.  But also, and more often, the real villains can be the thoughts and actions (or inactions) of those same parties. When this is the case, I have observed over my career that the destructive forces loosely fall into four categories:





There it is in black and white, written into our contracts: "Time is of the essence..." Delay, intentional or head-in-the-clouds inadvertent, is a huge risk to all real estate transactions. Providing necessary documents or signatures a day (or a week...) late may seem like no big deal at the time, but the real estate clock is always ticking. In a sales capacity, we walk a fine line. Trust us, we don't want to be pushy. But you know what we want even less than being a backbreaker? The conversation about the additional costs incurred due to the seemingly innocuous delay you introduced when you thought you had all the time in the world. Oh, and those dates written into your contract? The ones by which you must perform? You may have gotten lucky before and you may get lucky again, but know that eventually your roulette game of missing contractual dates will land upon a counterparty reaper who will cut you no slack. And when the bell tolls that time, it will toll for thee.




Teddy Roosevelt famously said, "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing. And the worst thing you can do is nothing." I would agree that when you engage in the serious business of real estate buying, selling or refinancing, you should do so with a firm understanding that you WILL be required to make important decisions. Yes, you can entrust your agents to help, but you cannot stay on the white picket fence forever. A trait I've noticed among my most successful clients? Resolve. When decisions are made, they are made AND done. Progress can then be made from that point. But to not decide, you must delay and if you do, you will hear the hooves of the Horsemen just the same.



Expertise, Unfounded

The internet is a wonderful thing. But as I write this today, there are otherwise smart people who, in the middle of a global pandemic that's killed 600K+ Americans to date, are taking medications their very own doctors would implore them not to take. If some of our clients would be willing to bet their own health they can outsmart their medical doctors do we seriously think, for a minute, that they're not also "doing their research" about their transaction, their property and their loan? Now, I am all for seeking an education on all matters important. Knowledge gained in this manner has the benefit of making one conversant with the pros --- it allows us to communicate at a higher level and this, in turn, earns us respect and benefits us with the return of more precise answers. But I could read a thousand web pages about replacing my water heater. I could watch a hundred videos on how to do it. Yet make no mistake that if I attempted to actually perform the replacement I would be at great risk of making mistakes and getting in well over my head the instant something didn't go to plan. Because the simple fact is, unless and until I have performed dozens and maybe hundreds of water heater replacements, the seasoned plumber is the guy/gal with the right training, the right tools, the right tricks, the right intuition and the right finishing touches. OK, you say, "I've hired a pro but I don't really trust that person." Sorry, but the burden is still on you. Make another and a better decision. Without delay.



The Unreasonable Pursuit of Perfection

It is my opinion that if you asked any sizeable group of even the very best real estate professionals what percentage of all of their deals go absolutely perfectly, the number would be very small. Sure, you'd get some sporadic total success stories, but the vast majority of closed deals would have instead come with their expected twists and turns, drama and excitement. Because real estate transactions are inherently complex, it's important to embrace an attitude of "controlling what you can control" and being flexible in the face of the factors you cannot control. Buyer, sellers and homeowners who have an unreasonable expectation of perfection or who demand that the universe bends to their will are often setting themselves up for failure. Sure, we should all strive for the best and we should make every effort to promote that outcome, but when things do not go our way, most often it is not personal. It is also not the end of the earth. Can we adapt, adjust our sails and keep the greater goals intact? If we can avoid letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, almost always the answer is, "Yes!"


If you are a consumer looking to buy, sell or refinance real estate, there are many, worthwhile steps you can take to help your cause. There are also a few surefire methods of self-sabotage, as above. The best of us professionals work to impart our knowledge and experience to achieve the outcome for which we are hired and if you one day hear something along the lines of, "I understand that's what you've heard or read, but that's not the way this will play out and it's time to decide what you'd like to do, even if it doesn't seem entirely ideal..." This is not some long-winded way to hear ourselves talk for the better part of the day, but instead to send a concise signal to the sixteen galloping hooves that they are not welcome here and it's time for them to turn back. You may not hear them, but we do.



Still they ride,



Rob Spinosa
SVP of Mortgage Lending

Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343 
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959


Marin Office:  324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA  94960

Berkeley Office:  1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA  94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate.  In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate's Human Resources Department.


Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 - (866) 934-7283

Comments (21)

Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

All of these are complete death if not just red flags but sale death

Sep 06, 2021 10:30 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Rob - it's not only real estate but the evidence shows in real life.  Funny at times and quite sad too.  Often at the same time.  

Sep 07, 2021 03:07 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

These four can definitely be deal killers if not caught in time. Great post!

Sep 07, 2021 05:02 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

You know, Rob, I had a day where I was in the car with my mother for most of the day, and I was on the bluetooth phone for much of that day putting out fires, and talking to clients.  At the end of our time together my mother said "Is that what you do, all day... just talk to people?"... and I had to say that "yes, that's a major portion of my typical day".

Sep 07, 2021 06:04 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Talking to people is a lot of what I do, too. Whether they "listing" is another matter. Making a huge financial decision is a difficult thing for some people. Delay, indecision, unschooled opinions...all can come up. Yet, no decision is still the worst decision.

Sep 07, 2021 06:43 AM
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

This was verbalized so eloquently..  Thanks for doing this.

Sep 07, 2021 06:59 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Rob Spinosa - This is truly the best AR post I've read in a very long time. AR was created for the benefit of people actively in the real estate industry. Congratulations on a well-articulated blog post that deserved to be featured. I was clinging to your every word. When it comes to creative writing and adding value to agents like myself in the current real estate market, yours is the best. We are in serious business and you hit the nerve points that I deal with often. There's no fluff. No regurgitated junk I haven't heard before. You're the real deal. 

Sep 07, 2021 09:06 AM
Rob Spinosa

Wow. Thank you very much. Means a lot coming from Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP !

Sep 07, 2021 11:28 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Yes, I have seen those four villians ride over the hills many times! Delay is the one that has bedeviled me a lot lately. Several deals scuttled because of it - even with all my "talking" to get people to understand how destructive it can be. 

Sep 07, 2021 09:09 AM
Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Colorado Broker / Referral Services

Indecisiveness is one of the greatest destroyers, ... and it can be of success or failure.  Either one must be greeted with enthusiasm.  Great posting!

Sep 07, 2021 09:49 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

Great post. Unfounded experience was my favorite - it says 'this' on the internet.

Sep 07, 2021 12:51 PM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Expertise Unfounded that must be when the relatives come in and will let their relation know that everything the agent told them was wrong

Sep 07, 2021 06:46 PM
Erik Hiss
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Worthington, OH
You can trust me for all your real estate needs!

Very good points and I've certainly been fighting them off for 17 years now!

Sep 08, 2021 08:01 AM
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Great Post Rob Spinosa .  The unfounded Unfounded Expertise has in my experience been the most common for me.  It's amazing that people will take advice from someone that bought a house 10 years ago and think that has anything to do with what is going on today. 

The Delays are probably second. I recently had a client that took nearly 4 days to e-sign a purchase contract.  They got very lucky that they still got the property.   As the great band Rush says, "if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice."

Sep 08, 2021 05:05 PM
Rob Spinosa

Definitely extra credit in my book for the Rush reference!

Sep 09, 2021 08:18 AM
Karen Rice
Keller Williams Real Estate - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

Wow! Love this - and yes, the Unfounded Expertise seems to be the most common deal killer for me!

Sep 10, 2021 06:40 AM
Lynnea Miller
Bend Premier Real Estate - Bend, OR
Premier Real Estate Service in Central Oregon

Really good blog.  I have seen all sorts of personalities in our real estate transactions and our agents have had to deal with them with their own unique set of expectations. And Unfounded Expertise is often one that is most challenging.

Sep 14, 2021 01:16 PM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

absolutely true...the proverbial four horsemen....well said and sad but true!!!

Sep 16, 2021 12:40 AM
Sam Kader MLO 130505 MB 78982
Pacific Coast Financial LLC Lic# MB78982 - Seattle, WA
Real Estate NMLS 91980 Mortgage Broker Lic MB78982

Well done Rob! I think you covered them all. 

Sep 16, 2021 08:58 AM
Rosalind Nicholas
RE/MAX Condos Plus Corporation, Brokerage - Toronto, ON
Toronto Condo Real Estate Agent, Toronto ON

I enjoyed reading this really good post, every point you made is true and I have experienced it over the years, in different degrees. Unfounded expertise is prevalent .......

Sep 16, 2021 04:05 PM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farm & Commercial Land Broker-Auctioneer Serving Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

I enjoyed your blog...I have replaced my water heater and my soldered joints look better than all the original soldered joints the plumber did 18 years ago. I just replaced my water softener last week...about as hard to do as changing a tire on your vehicle. 

Anyway...I agree with all of your points and I do not recommend very many people do what I do...

Sep 17, 2021 06:14 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

A well thought out and well written blog!  Under the Expertise Unfounded paragraph, I thought it would refer to those persons "around" the buyer who chime in with their thoughts on what's wrong with the house...yet that person is NOT a professional inspector.  Those pp who say "oh, you have big problems with the roof" yet won't elaborate or base their statements on facts.   Thanks for writing--enjoyed reading the blog!

Sep 17, 2021 09:18 AM