Last weekend I was heavily lobbied and recruited to play in a co-ed softball tournament at Coach's Field here in Piedmont. I gave up softball a few years ago and have blissfully avoided the baseball diamond ever since. But this team was facing forfeiture if they couldn't find enough women to fill their roster so against my better instincts, I grudgingly capitulated.
"I'm really no good at this sport," I explained to Nick, the team captain in my email.
"That's okay, " he assured me, "you'll do fine."
CUT! Had Nick known how truly limited my skills are with respect to a bat and a ball, I am sure he would have continued to hunt for someone (anyone) who might have proven to be a better asset in the outfield. I'm not exaggerating when I say I can't play. Think Lucy in Charlie Brown and you've pegged me.
"Why am I doing this?"I asked my husband after a particularly embarrassing fielding error that had to do with the ball bouncing over my head and my outstretched glove (two runs scored - yikes!).
"Because it's fun. Because you'll make new friends," and then a bit sarcastically . . . "Because it's a great way for you to network." Ah ha! Networking! Now that's a sport I can embrace!
When called upon, I register high school students for classes, work the middle school lunches, sign up for boosters, and walk the streets for elections. I sit on boards, volunteer for fundraisers, give money to sports teams and sponsor golf holes.
By nature (and nurture - I work at The GRUBB Co. afterall) I am an extremely social being who recognizes the importance of "networking" - both to build friendships and to expand my business contacts. Unfortunately for the Muffin Tops, (yes, that's the team name) I even agreed to play softball last weekend! (I really have no shame and apparently, no game either.)
Here's the thing; while I know it's important to "network," I believe it's more important to contribute when asked. Even with the concept of sales firmly embedded in my psyche (and my genes) I network because I truly believe in community, in supporting one another and in pitching in to do my share (catch the pun?). If you happen to refer a client my way, that's a lovely tertiary result (and much appreciated - thank you!) and all part of building a growing business, but make no mistake; before I sold homes, I drove on field trips and volunteered!
More importantly, here's what I won't do for business - I won't manipulate the truth. I won't tell you what you want to hear and I won't promise you an outcome that our recent sales activity simply doesn't support. In short, I won't "buy" your listing. I won't give you an inflated list price so that I can secure the listing and then hold you and your home hostage until I beat you down with price reductions more in line with where the market truly lies.
Has this cost me listings?
And admittedly, it is always a tough loss. I can think of several listings in the last two years that ultimately sold for my suggested list price after weeks and sometimes months, of protracted marketing (unfortunately, with another agent - ouch!).
Weekly analysis and market realities form the basis of my opinions and gut instinct and experience add to the equation. I also often rely on fellow GRUBB Co. agents to provide objectivity (some who have more than 30 years experience here in Piedmont)! Together, we rely on our history and intuition . . . this is interestingly, one of our most collective skill sets! Within reason, I try to be as accurate as possible with respect to your anticipated sales result. Promising you the moon only damages my credibility.
So beware the agent who promises you a guaranteed outcome.
NO ONE can promise you what the market will deliver! Simply put, the market will bear what the market will bear. At the end of the day, I believe that you are very likely making decisions based on your "great" expectations so I am extremely careful - because it matters to us both. How do I retain your trust if I blatantly mistreat or misrepresent your expectations?
Just ask Nick - he probably expected me to field that fly ball properly or to get on base (geez!). Still, he couldn't have been expecting Tori Hunter. I gave him full disclosure! Maybe he was just hoping to get lucky! Sorry Nick. (Sounds like some sellers I know.)
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.