Working with the Dregs

Good Wine - Bad Realtors

Working with the dregs

There’s an old Frank Sinatra song that has a wonderful line “…from the brim to the dregs. It poured sweet and clear. It was a very good year….”With great wine, tasting from the brim, or first portion, is a sweet affair. The flavors that arise aren’t an accident. They arise because the wine maker’s experience, education and love of the art and science of winemaking are at stake. In a word, the artisan’s work is on display, and at first taste, it’s either great or not so.

The dregs are what remain at the bottom of the barrel. Not much to taste from. Not much to brag about. In fact, in the Bible Jesus’s first miracle is the changing of the water into wine. The miracle does not go unnoticed by the members of the party, and they remark that usually the host will serve good wine first, and then (after inebriation sets in) offer up wine of lesser quality later. Jesus actually serves the best wine later. But I digress.

I’m writing to you today because the business of real estate too often causes one to drink from the dregs, and not from the brim. This is so often the case because unlike the experience and education of the wine maker, real estate agents don’t often seem to have or place the care for their own knowledge at a level as high as the wine maker. In short, poor preparation, poor education, and lack of experience make many real estate agents poor wine makers.

In the world of Home Equity as it relates to homeowners, and Equity Sharing as it relates to home buyers, and even more broadly in the world of real estate finance that stretches the comfort zone of many real estate agents and lenders, I’m coming quickly to see that the lack of education about using home equity intelligently is leaving clients poorly represented. After all, if you COULD buy the property, but your real estate agent only knows one of the many paths that open up that possibility, then you are severely at a disadvantage. Sure, every one talks fixed rates, adjustable loans, option ARMS, etc., but how many real estate agents know lease options, owner carry back, Equity Sharing, Tenant-in-Common, along with HOW and WHY these doors should be opened?  And how many current homeowners are laboring under the conception that the equity in their home is something to be protected, not utilized?  How many homeowners are afraid to sell their home because they don’t have enough information about what the market is probably going to do, and how that impacts the financial value of their home investment?

I asked a listing agent on behalf of my buyer if she would ask the seller to entertain a lease with an option to buy. I explained why my buyer needed this, and how I thought it could benefit both parties. On the other end of the phone, this response: “I don’t know anything about lease options, and my client (the seller) wouldn’t be interested.”

Did you hear me put down the keyboard and scream? Assuming you’ve got a seller who wants to sell, a buyer who wants to buy, a listing agent that wants to sell, a selling agent that wants to buy, then this conversation just put all four parties deep down into the barrel of failure. It’s working with the dregs, and these kind of experiences are leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Perhaps with participation by professionals and Realtors who care about wine making. Perhaps with participation by thinking men and women who care about the clients they serve. Perhaps with the willingness to share some thoughts across the lines of the “box”; well, perhaps this blog and its ideas will age well and taste fine.

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