You Can’t Handle the Truth!

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Jack Nicholson TruthJack Nicholson, one of my all-time favorite actors, in one of my all-time favorite movies A Few Good Men, delivered a memorable quote — “You can’t handle the truth!”. He was, to say the least, quite emphatic in the delivery.

Late last night “A agent” left a comment on yesterday’s post where I said, “Now isn’t the best time to sell”.

Here is the comment, unedited and in its entirety:

I dont understand why you would say this is not a good time to sell a home!! You sell homes for a living!! The media is out to get us and now other agents (YOU) are to!! How do you think this makes agents look!! STUPID!! Why do you do this?

Getting past the poor grammar and excessive use of exclamation points, what is it that “a agent” is really trying to convey?

Apparently “agent” feels I am doing my real estate agent brethren a disservice when I opine on this blog.

Well… in a nutshell, too bad.

Here’s the deal. I didn’t write “now isn’t the best time to sell” to make agents look stupid. I wrote it because in my opinion it is the truth. In the Phoenix market (and many others across the country) this clearly is not the best time to sell a home. Prices are declining, inventory is bloated, and buyers are in the drivers seat. None of that bodes well for selling a home. This is not opinion, this is simple fact.

I write here on many different topics. Real estate is of course the primary subject, but even the most casual reader of Phoenix Real Estate Guy will swiftly see that this blog isn’t just about real estate.

While I freely inject my opinion in all matters, one thing you will never see me do (here and in life in general) is stifle or sugar-coat the truth. That’s just the way I was raised, like it or leave it. If you want sunshiney sales talk with kum-ba-ya playing in the background, you should probably just move along — trust me, there is plenty of that out there, and it’s not hard to find. I’m not going to blow smoke up anyones hindquarters just to make a sale. I don’t expect anyone to agree with everything I say, far from it. But please, don’t come here telling me that I’m out to get other agents or making the collective look stupid by telling the truth. That’s just silly.

I leave you with a few quotes from people far smarter than I am regarding the truth.

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.
– Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful.
– Edward R. Murrow

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
– Mark Twain

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About the Author
Jay Thompson

I'm a real estate broker in Phoenix, Arizona and the publisher of the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog. I tend to drive too fast and scream at the University of Texas and Denver Broncos football teams. My two kids are smarter than most adults I know and my wife is simply amazing.

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  1. Edge says:

    It's appreciated Jay. Be it "Doom and gloom" or "Sunshine and rainbows", it's usually easy to spot a bias. I always believe that if you have to pick a side, choose the factual negatives so you at least are armed with every reason why you should NOT do something.

    My dad always said it was wiser to know more reasons to say "No" to something, than to know more reasons to say "Yes" to it. The latter often shows you simply haven't done enough research, or have done it in the wrong place.

    Good work :)

  2. Here, here. My sentiments exactly. I feel if you put your clients priorities and interests first they will long time clients instead of one timers.

  3. Brad Shaffer says:

    Jay – I totally agree with you. It's hard to even say "now is a great time to buy" because prices continue to decline in many areas. It's such a general statement that won't apply to all circumstances. For some, it may be a great time to buy, for others it may not be. For most sellers, it's not smart to sell right now if you don't have to.

    I just did some two-year statistical data on Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert and posted it on my blog. There are signs of life in all three markets – in general – including price stabilization and inventory levels. But this comes after the summer real estate busy season and could change as the school season starts. It will be interesting to see where we stand in the late fall and after FHA guidelines change.

    But, for most sellers, now is a horrible time to sell, unless they've owned their home pre-boom and have substantial equity. If they bought two years ago they most likely have negative equity.

    There's no point in sugar-coating today's real estate market. If I told every person that "now is a great time to sell" and "now is a great time to buy" every single day of the week until I retire then my credibility goes right out the window.

    And sugar-coating today's real estate market for most sellers is like sugar-coating sh!t. It may be sugary and sweet on the outside but eventually you'll be dealing with a bunch of sh!t …

  4. The truth hurts sometimes. The market here in Myrtle Beach is much the same. We are starting to be in the midst of a pretty strong buyers market with, unfortunately, many short-sales and foreclosures. H

  5. Sun Blocker says:

    yea i appreciate your honesty here, but you dont need to be an expert to know that right now isnt the best time to seel your house

  6. I think the only way to operate in this business is to be straight forward and honest with our clients.

    "The media is out to get us and now other agents (YOU) are to!! How do you think this makes agents look!! STUPID!! Why do you do this?"

    I think if anything playing up a market that is down makes agents look stupid.

  7. Yeah, it seems like if you're straight forward and honest they'll trust you more. Or get so depressed about the market and lose the will to buy or sell. On a completely unrelated note, do you think Jack Nicholson is sad about how great Heath Ledger's portrayal of "The Joker" was?

  8. Bella says:

    In my opinion, every persons personal situation will determine if it is the right time to sell or not. Some people have no choice but to sell, because they bought when market was high and now can't afford their home. So they will lose on this home, but the new home they will get cheaper. I bought my home when market was high. I thought I paid rediculous price for it, but I had no choice, you looked at the house then in two hours it had bids on it. We have lived here for 6 years and are now outgrowing it. Do we HAVE to leave. No. But we are going to try it out and see what happens. I think we will still make money on it. Maybe not as much as the people did when we bought it, but its still a profit nonetheless. Plus since market is low for sellers, it will be great time for us to buy. Either way it comes full circle.

    But like I said, some people have no choice and have to leave their home. Those people I feel bad for. Everyone's situation is different.

    Thanks for letting me post,

    Blessings. :)

  9. Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.

    –Thomas Jefferson

  10. In today's market, if you have to sell, sell cheap, buy cheaper.

    If you don't have to sell, don't bother to list your home for sale, wait.

    If you want to buy, be able to negotiate from a position of strength.

    Jay, I'm glad you did a follow up post on "a agent"; the grammatical errors and misspellings are a poor reflection on real estate professionals who have our clients interests in mind rather than our own.

  11. Cal Carter says:

    Nice work as usual Jay! Probably one of those guys that was saying "they aren't making any more of it". It's the difference between "selling" and "consulting". Jeffry Gitomer say's people want to buy (could be your services), but they don't want to be sold. I am sure that the person given the advice that the market may be overbought or oversold appreciates the honesty and not only will seek out advice when the time is right, but more importantly will become a customer or client for life. Too many times people let their short sighted immediate gratification get in the way of a sound reality check and lose an almost guaranteed long term future of prosperity by not having a long term outlook.

  12. Gregory Bain says:

    Jay, I think this is "a agent" unveiled:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1g15SJacxY&fe

    our man Vance turned me on to it. Suze is just to nice with her.

    Greg

  13. Rick NHS says:

    Someone's been listening to the NAR too much! While I don't mean to insult the NAR (or Mr. Yun for that matter)… they've been doing a little bit of smoke blowing of their own as of late. Maybe "Agent's" market is ideal for selling right now.. I don't know, but I doubt it…

    By telling your readers the facts, you're simply being a trust-worthy agent. If you were to tell your readers (or potential clients) that "now is the time to sell", in an effort to gain business… we would see right through you!

    It's no mistake that you are one of (if not thee) most well-respected real estate agents in cyber-world… you "keep it real". Thanks for that!

  14. Right, your honesty with your clients , straight forwardness and understand their priorities and interest of your client are the way to operate the business

  15. Does 'agent' think that homeowners and potential clients are really stupid? I hate it that agents are viewed as liars and cheats because of this sort of attitude.

  16. Well, maybe is not right time for selling house in USA, but it's for sure right time for selling house in Croatia. Prices are waaaay too high … But as you said: some guys can’t handle the Truth.

  17. Desperation causes people to react crazy!

    After listening to the "You tube "that Greg Bain (above) gave us…Agent A was probably feeling "desperate" in this market. He/She probably doesn't have a good support system or informational pipeline to help He/She to see the "truth"….Thank God He/She has found this blog…maybe now He/She will LEARN THE TRUTH!

    Great quotes by the way Jay

  18. I thought about this past statement by "A Agent" all day and after thinking about it, that's a lot of agents opinion of how they should act. "Tell clients what they want to hear regardless." I think a lot of agents hurt themselves by thinking they are doing what they should be by "selling their services regardless" all they end up doing is getting a for lack of better words a "used car salesman reputation". Then they are quickly washed out of the real estate business and doing something else.

  19. I would say that "A Agent" is trying to hard to hold on to a dream, but the bad news is that by closing your eyes and wishing the housing market better, won't make it any better.

    At least maybe now "Agent" can start to accept the reality of the situation, good or bad, and find new ways to make real estate work for him/her. Time to get creative!

  20. Linsey says:

    I'm a little astonished by the foolishness of the 'A agent' remark. Is this person assuming that if we (agents) deny the facts and the reality of the market conditions, consumers will just be begin to believe that this is a 'great time to sell'? This agents unwillingness to be frank and honest about the present market conditions may be the reason his remarks are filled with a sense of desparation.

    I don't need to tell you Jay to continue to be frank and direct – your readership and warm consumer response already shows that it's exactly what people are looking for. I think 'A agent' is underestimating the intelligence of the consumer.

  21. Susan says:

    Jay, I have to agree with you on a few point…firstly, …Jack Nicholson is the greatest!! ;)

    To address the points here, I believe its important to be honest and upfront with clients and all people when discussing real estate or anything else for that matter. They have access to data and news media and are not stupid. Its obviously not the best time to sell right now and I think any agents that promote that it is make themselves look bad.

  22. It's a recession. Sit it out, if you can.

  23. Well, I am not here to judge or anything but looks like the agent who posted that comment is not happy… business-wise and that's probably because he is not being totally honest with his customers. You can't tell people "all is good", when it is not!

  24. Thanks for all the comments folks.

    Sometimes it's difficult to imagine that there are folks out there that feel like "a agent". But they most certainly are. I've gotten comments, private emails and even a couple of phone calls for "being negative".

    I've often thought about following up at a later point with those that make these comments to see just how well their real estate career is going.

    Buyers and sellers are smarter than a lot of people give them credit for. I think they can see right through someone who "blows smoke". But it sure doesn't seem to stop it from happening…

    @Greg – thanks for the YouTube link. That was a good one. It's difficult to have much sympathy for someone taking out a 3rd mortgage for a swimming pool. A *lot* of folks used their home as an ATM machine, which is crazy. You'd think an agent, who in theory is a little more connected to the real estate market, would know better.

  25. I hope your markets are picking up. Quite a few short sales and foreclosures. If you're not upfront and honest, eventually it will come back and bite you in the ass.

  26. Lane Bailey says:

    I get tired of that. It is a great time to sell… It is a lousy time to sell… It doesn't matter. Those are all true right now, and they are all false. It depends on the situation and the location and many other factors. There is no "perfect time to sell" or buy or anything else.

    Too much NAR Kool-Aid kills more brain cells that booze.

  27. Jay, great post. I have to say that "A few Good Men" is one of my favorites as well :) . Reactions such as "a agent" continue to surprise me, although I am not sure why at this point. For some people it will be the right time to sell (divorce, estate sale, etc) and for others it won't be. As true real estate professionals we have to provide advice to our clients with market conditions and allow them the opportunity to decide if they want to sell or not.

    Just as an attorney can advise you NOT to go to court, but you decide you want to anyway, we must take the role of advice seriously for our clients. Even, if at the end of the day that means we don't get a commission, we have to put the client first.

  28. Its like any other business, and we are all linked in some way; plumbers, carpenters, carpets, cutlery,etc. Enjoy the good times and prepare for the bad at the same time. But be good to your clients and you can rely on return business and recommendation in the future.

    AND can I just add that it is obvious that "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" is the all time best Jack Nicholson film.

  29. Jim Gatos says:

    Actually Jay, I have to disagree with you somewhat, and if you knew me personally, generally I'm pretty much somewhat "cynical" and tend to form my own opinions no matter what.

    I think the question of whether it's a good time to sell or not is all a question of relativity. The last time I saw something like this was in the early 90's . All of the sudden, "FOOM"! A 15% – 30% drop (or so). Not as many short sales and foreclosures then. Prices stabilized and in the mid 90's everything was pretty much stable. Then slowly around 2001 prices went up and then "BOOM"! Really up! Then in late 2004, "FOOM"! down again.

    I personally think it's an individual matter. If someones NEEDS to sell, they should. If they want to pay the "PITI" until the market goes "BOOM"! again,they can, but I personally think that won't happen for about 7 to 10 years. I don't see values much now; I think prices pretty much stabilized in Mass; however, if someone where I am wants to sell, they'd better hurry up and call me. Yeah, they say in Mass prices have come down, somewhere around 5%=7% in a year, but I think the best thing to do when giving out advice is to study the absorption rates for the specific property in question and look at ALL options. Ask some of my clients; if a property is well priced, it will sell in any market. You see, RIGHT NOW may be the BEST TIME to sell, depending on the situation.

  30. Steve Belt says:

    I'm renting and renting and renting home after home after home, because my clients are consistently making the decision, now is not the time for them to sell. A few of them decide to sell, but most decide to stay or rent. Sellers rank in the minority, for sure, and successful sellers are yet again a minority of the sellers.

  31. It is funny how many can't understand that we must do our best to deliver the truth to our clients. This year my brother and I have told many different sellers it isn't the best time to sell because that was and is the truth right now. If a seller wants to sell then we are happy to help them but if they have options, such as Steve mentions about renting homes, then we let them know that. Sellers always appreciate the honesty and refer their friends and family who do have to sell or buy. Funny how the truth has great rewards.

  32. Jay

    Statements by realtors exhorting their brethern do opposite what the market and your professional opinion might dictate smacks of a cartel type mentality.

    I would think THAT is the impression that realtors would like to avoid!

  33. Amy Jones says:

    Kudos, Jay, you hit it on the head. Over the past year, I've talked more potential sellers into "staying put". They're always flabbergasted when one of my first questions is "Do you HAVE to sell now?" Honesty breeds a loyal client base which "A Agent" apparently hasn't figured out.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] From a seller’s perspective – if you don’t have to sell right now, seriously consider not selling. [...]

  2. [...] me of a similar situation I had with a comment just a couple of weeks ago. One torqued-off agent couldn’t handle the truth. [...]

  3. [...] me of a similar situation I had with a comment just a couple of weeks ago. One torqued-off agent couldn’t handle the truth.” [...]

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