Selling Dead Donkeys

Posted on September 9, 2009. Filed under: First Time Buyer help |

Hi everyone, this is an article written by Mary Jane Cambria, 2009 Orange County Association of Realtors‘ President. As an agent, many of my buyers are feeling this pain, and I am posting with permission to help bring about awareness and change to make your experience with buying Orange County real estate a pleasure!

There’s an old story that goes like this:

“A city boy moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the mule the next day.

The next day, the farmer drove up and said, “Sorry, but I have some bad news. The donkey died.”

“Well then, just give me my money back.”

“Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.”

“Okay then. Just unload the donkey.”

“What ya gonna do with him?”

“I’m going to raffle him off.”

“You can’t raffle off a dead donkey.”

“Sure I can. I just won’t tell anybody he’s dead.”

A month later the farmer met up with the city boy and asked, “Whatever happened with that dead donkey?”

“I raffled him off. I sold five hundred tickets at two dollars apiece and made a profit of $998.”

“Didn’t anyone complain?”

“Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.”

It’s not nice to sell dead donkeys. Nor is it nice if, instead of a donkey, you list an REO property on the MLS as active when it should be in “back up.”

By the rules of the MLS, when an owner accepts an offer, the listing agent is required to change the property’s status even if, as we all have experienced, the bank takes weeks to approve the transaction.

A friend of mine suggests that agents are committing a fraud when they allow properties to stay active even as an accepted offer awaits lender approval. “I could be spending time with my mother who is in stage IV kidney failure instead of calling on so-called active listings. It wastes time and distorts true market inventory,” she complained to me recently.

I understand her frustration. But I understand the listing agent may be frustrated too, when forced to wait, sometimes for months, their deal is rejected by the bank. They are trying to serve their clients—sellers often in distress, selling short and desperate to resolve their financial crisis.

I do not have a perfect solution to this but wish to point out that the REALTOR® Code of Ethics stipulates there is an “obligation to treat all parties honestly.” And Article II subsequently states, “REALTORS® shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to the property or the transaction.”

The most successful REALTORS® practice the art of cooperation to perfection. Professionalism is the bedrock of their business: They nurture their image and reputation in small ways, including being courteous to colleagues.

We cannot forget these basic principles because we are frustrated. Rationalizing poor business practices because the market is in turmoil is no way to convey confidence and trust to our clients. I can only imagine what an anxious buyer must think touring all day long only to find out that none of the properties he or she visited are actually for sale.

In the end, we cannot persist in criticizing lenders for being unresponsive and neglectful, when we in turn go about our workday refusing to return phone inquiries on our REO listings.

Author bio………………………………………

mary-jane-cambriaMary Jane Cambria serves as President of the Orange County Association of Realtors®, which is the 2nd largest Association in California.   Mary Jane is Broker/Owner Cambria Real Estate. She has earned many achievements in her 20-year real estate career.  She serves as a director for the California State Association of Realtors® and as a National Association of Realtors® director. She was the 2004 California State President for Women’s Council of Realtors® and was awarded the: 2007 State Member of the Year. She serves as a volunteer at Fair Housing of Orange County with the Foreclosure Prevention Program and teaches First Time Buyers Classes there and at Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County. She is a director on the OCHOPC council (Orange County Housing Collaborative, Director for the Orange County Housing Trust, and Director for AREAA (Asian Real Estate of America Association and a member of the Orange County District Attorney’s Advisory Board for the Real Estate Fraud Department.


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