Time Is of The Essence, and the “I’m Not-In-A-Hurry” Buyer

Real estate can be a funny business, especially in Mammoth. As I often tell people, the local market is for the most part a “don’t have to buy, don’t have to sell” marketplace. Only with truly distressed sellers do we find real motivation. Because most buyers are second homeowners or investors, the sense of urgency is diminished. Thankfully, the intent of real estate agreements compels performance from the parties, the old “time is of the essence.” And for many (potential) buyers, “time is of the essence” has other meanings in this market. Facing mortality does that.

I talk to lots of people interested in Mammoth real estate. Some are real buyers, some are potential buyers, some are just actors. Lately, I’m hearing plenty of “but I’m not in a hurry.” (And I’m not even pushy.) But over time I’ve learned that “not in a hurry” can mean many things. And sometimes I find out these buyers actually were in a hurry and turned around and bought a substandard property (and not from me). Some people just can’t say “no” to hard sell. And sometimes I discover that they really are in a hurry, a real hurry. Because for them time has indeed become of the essence. Other people just don’t communicate very well.

I try my best at this game of real estate to help people, but I really never know. I try to listen. I try to ask good questions. One of the best questions is: Are you a pass (MVP) holder? Being a pass holder means you like to ski and are committed to the sport and most likely to Mammoth. Another question: Do you come to Mammoth in the summer? People who don’t come to Mammoth in the summer are clueless, but then again lots of Mammoth property owners don’t come in the summer. And maybe that’s just as well. Or: Did you come here as a kid? I hear this all the time, “My grandparents brought me here when I was a kid so now I want a place so I can share it with my grandkids.”

Sometimes I read “I’m not in a hurry” as other things, and some are laughable. “Not in a hurry” can mean; I think I’m a shrewd negotiator and I’m not going to show you that I have any motivation at all. (The problem with that is that if you don’t show Paul that you have some motivation, he isn’t going to share the good deals with you––you can lead a horse to water…) Or it can mean; I’m really not a buyer for Mammoth real estate––I just like to watch pathetic real estate agents fawn over me, or try to hard-sell me (you won’t get either from me). I’ve also learned over the years that some people are just “bored and lonely” and a real estate agent’s attention can cure that, at least temporarily. (And some real estate agents are bored and lonely too and should be avoided like the plague). And there’s always some guy who really isn’t serious but has a hot new girlfriend who he is trying to impress. Usually it is on stormy afternoons. He’s definitely not in a hurry about real estate, but he’s in a hurry for other things.

But I never really know. I’d like to think they’ve read my blog and know that some education, knowledge, and patience will produce the best acquisitions. Real estate industry and marketing has changed dramatically the last few years and today it is all about IDX (Internet Data Exchange). This allows consumers to look at most of the listings in the local MLS. It’s a great place to become more familiar with properties on the market, and even works for those with short attention spans. The IDX information isn’t perfect or complete. Many consumers migrate around to sites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and all the Mammoth brokers. Real buyers typically spend plenty of time there, and they are all looking for something new, special or enticing. Or screaming deals. And many times they only get more confused. And the photos can make a property look great, I know, all of you look at hundreds of photos I’ve shot (and I promise to put the toilet seats down from now on). Trust me, digital photography can make even the worst properties look great. I wish it could make me look that good.

Sometimes “I’m not in a hurry” means I’m going to inherit a bunch of money in the future and then I’ll be ready (and hopefully I don’t do something stupid with the money before I decide to buy some real estate). Sometimes “I’m not in a hurry” means I’m about to file for divorce and after that’s all done I’ll be ready (if I have any money left). Maybe a small condo will be perfect after that.

“I’m not in a hurry” can also mean this: I still think the market is going down another 10-20% but I want to be knowledgeable so when it does I will know what I want to purchase. And I know for a fact that for some “I’m not in a hurry” means this: I like to dream but I will never buy because I’m just a chicken. In the mid- and late-90’s when property values were ridiculously low there would be the same old broken records coming in the front door of the office announcing that they would buy when the market dropped another 20%. Of course they never bought, or they finally bought in 2005.

And some of the “I’m not in a hurry” crowd might also say, “but I’m having a mid-life crisis. Or: too many of my peers are dying off. Or: it’s 2012 and, you know…. Or: I can’t take the city any more, but don’t know what to do.”

In Mammoth, sometimes it’s the seller that is “not in a hurry.” Sometimes that means they are emotional about the sale, which is always understandable. Mammoth provides many property owners and families with years of enjoyment and memories, and it is tough to let go. Sometimes it’s just the pretended “shrewd negotiator” tactic. Good luck with that. Sometimes it is plain old modern day “hopium.” And dealing with so many REOs I have found that “not in a hurry” can mean this: I haven’t made a payment in three years so I’m definitely not in hurry.

When I hear “I’m not in a hurry” I feel like responding, “Well, I am.” And I really am. I see these old local agents working well past 70 years of age and that scares the crap out of me. I mean, I like this job and the people I meet, but time really is of the essence, and a few more dollars isn’t going to make you (or me) happier at that age, unless….I’ll bet these agents have read the phrase “time is of the essence” a million times and they never really figured out what it means (probably not legally or in life). I know I need to work less and ski and fish more. And many buyers of Mammoth real estate are figuring it out, especially if they are boomers. This is 2012, and after all, the Mayan calendar is haunting us. Even worse this presidential election may make us want the Mayans to be right.

Meanwhile, whether you are a “not-in-a hurry” or a “time is of the essence” type, I’m working hard to make my bi-weekly newsletter valuable for you. Like the blog it requires constant improvement. This is not some automated data dumped out from the MLS. It is Mammoth specific market information from the past two weeks. Where I get time to do it I have no idea. But many recipients find it valuable and concise. The more people who sign up the more compelled I am to make it the best. Please sign up if you have any interest in Mammoth and Mammoth real estate. You can opt-out any time and of course there is no list selling or spam. Thanks for reading. We’re getting snow and that is great news!!

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