There is a saying or phrase associated with movies which alludes to the fact that in order to enjoy a movie one has to be ready to suspend disbelief – to be ready to allow the story on the screen to unfold and to take it all in as if it could actually be happening. Some movies are easier than others in which to accomplish this state of suspended disbelief. Many movies purport to be based upon real happenings – events that were in the news or at least about which one may have heard. Other movies are pure fantasy, such as Star Wars; however, one can temporarily suspend disbelief and imaging that somewhere in a galaxy far, far away…
Suspending disbelief in real estate has more to do with actually dealing with “I can’t believe that that just happened” scenarios than it does with imaginary situations. In real estate one must get used to dealing with things that no rational human being might imagine would happen, but they do. Most of this has to do with the strange goings on behind the various curtains that veil the real estate process from the prying eyes of the public, the agents and the buyers and sellers.
There are many places within the flow of a real estate deal where logic and common sense often require temporary suspension. There are the sometimes totally absurd requests/requirements of the mysterious underwriters, such as “provide a written explanation from your mother and her bank about where she got the $100 that she gave you for your birthday.” There are the sometimes incredible demands of the buyers or the sellers over some minor point – a point that usually equates to less than 1% of the total deal, but for which the parties are willing to sink the entire deal, an example might be the seller who is willing to “buy his house back” for the $100 repair that the buyer has asked him to make.
There are also the pesky inputs and demands of the minor character players in the deal – the requirement for some minor thing from the insurance company, in order to write the home owners policy; the reluctance of the title company to provide a title policy without objections on almost anything but a new-build house (which is really an indication that they don’t trust their own examination department); and the other mortgage player that shall forever remain behind the curtain – the PMI company – who, for whatever reason that shall remain a mystery, is holding things up. Like the movies, we’ll never know why these villains do what they do, because there is no transparency into the process at all.
The parallel between the movies and a real estate deal also cover the emotional roller-coaster that I’ve written about many times before. Every day, from the time the offer is accepted until the closing is over, can seem like the players are living in an action movie, with the need to have a fight scene or chase or blow something up every few minutes. . There are emotional ups and downs on a daily basis. An issue is raised and elevate to the level of a panic …and then solved – and then it happens again the next day. Day after day there is an emergency…a panic… and a solution (OR NOT). Each deal might easily provide the fodder for a television reality show season.
So why do we – the Realtors involved – do this? What can possible justify having to deal with such an emotional cauldron day after day? I could be cynical and say “because we love it.” We don’t love it. No one can claim to love the gut-wrenching roller coaster ride that real estate deals may take you on. I think we love the fact that we are good at dealing with it; of handling not only our own emotions, but those of the clients involved. Perhaps “love” is the wrong word there. We may feel good about the fact that we are “able” to deal with crises when all around us are panicking.
One of my very perceptive clients recently made the comment ( in the midst of an especially difficult and very emotionally charged deal) that I seldom displayed emotions during the things that had been going on. I told him that many of the things that had happened had evoked emotional responses from me, but that someone had to maintain the only cool voice of reason during the whole ordeal and I had chosen to take that role. When all of the other parties are screaming and crying and letting emotions run rampant, someone has to step out of the maelstrom and provide unemotional guidance and counsel. I had chosen that role, as I often do.
I’ve actually had clients accuse me of taking the other side – of not representing their interests, but rather that of the other side – in the heat of the emotions of difficult deals. That was not the case and never is. Most have had time to reflect on events later and have come back to thank me for not joining them in their emotion-driven efforts to sink the deals.
Real estate deals can often be (and are too often today) very emotional. Things can happen that require that you suspend disbelief and just go with the flow. Things can get so crazy that all around you are screaming and shouting and threatening each other (and sometimes you). If you can’t suspend your disbelief and control your own emotions, maybe you shouldn’t be in real estate. It’s a great show, if you know how to just let it happen and roll with the punches that it will throw. Otherwise, go be a ticket-taker at the movies. You’ll get to watch for free and maybe you’ll learn to suspend your disbelief.