Free Lunch Tuesdays

I refer to Tuesday as my free lunch day because, while it’s true that I get free lunch, it’s much more pleasant than the more accurate, “Get up early to listen to people lie with statistics,” days.  In other words, it’s the day of my broker’s Sales meeting, followed by a property tour where desperate Realtors use food to bribe people into looking at their listings.  Given the economy, and the market, most people are desperate.  And there are few things that crawl under my skin like desperate sales people.  We hates them, precious, yes we do.

The good news is that overall, showings and transaction rates across the state are up.  The bad news is that Dane county (that’d be the Madison area for the non-locals) is down.  This is weird because Dane county has been the bastion of stability throughout everything.  It took a hit, but not nearly so bad, and the market here bottomed out and started recovering first.  Now the rest of the state seems to be recovering while Dane county is sliding toward a double-dip.  “Why do you think that is?” asked my broker, who last week was talking about how great this summer is going to be.

People hemmed and hawed and talked about foreclosures in the rest of the state going back on the market – which is bunk because if that were true the inventory levels and market saturation numbers would reflect it – and other equally fuzzy explanations.  I honestly do not know whether these people are that short sighted and delusional or what, but I snapped and said the obvious.  “Scott Walker.”

What’s special about Dane county, the reason that its trends are overwhelmingly stable compared to the rest of the state?  Public sector employees.  The Dane county work force is disproportionately public sector when compared to the rest of the state.  It’s a side-effect of hosting the state capitol and its flagship university campus.  The people in this market are terrified.  Also, I called this happening back in February.  Roughly 100 out of 14,000 Realtors believed me.  Maybe I should change my pen name to Cassandra Lay.

Other things that annoyed me: When talking about how properties in the $650,000+ range are moving pretty well while the middle of the market is stagnant, somebody treated us to a rant about how the rich people are smart enough to buy low and sell high, but the masses are too stupid to see the wisdom there and do the opposite.  Or, you know, they’re selling now because they have to since they’ve lost their jobs, or taken massive pay cuts, or are leaving the state.  We’re not talking about finicky stock investors here, we’re talking about people coping with the most brutal recession since the depression.  I think they bloody well know it would have been better to sell three years ago, except they didn’t need to then.

The thing is, this doesn’t just rub me on the general “stupid people being stupid” way, but it also gets my “incompetent, desperate sales people,” peeve.  How can you expect to do right by your clients or be effective in this market when you are busy twisting numbers into the picture you want to see and deluding yourself about your customer base?  This is just as bad as the furniture sales people who wouldn’t talk to twenty-somethings wearing jeans and T-shirts, when in Madison, they’re likely to be the ones with too much money.  And yeah, that meant there was less competition for a valuable market, but come on, there’s no fun in winning because your competition is too incompetent to compete.  At least learn to read a bar graph, please.

So yes.  Tuesday is my free lunch day.  Otherwise, it’d have to be my, “I really hate other Realtors,” day.

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