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Who's on your Rubik's Cube team? Choosing the right supporting cast


When speaking to my clients and to agents who work for me, I have often referred to the real estate business as a jigsaw puzzle in which many pieces must fit into place in order for things to work out properly.  I was mulling over this idea today, and I realized that it is even more intricate than that. 

When I was about 11 or 12 years old (in the very early 1980's), Rubik's Cubes began to sweep the nation.  I remember getting my first Cube, and I remember that one of the older kids I knew would enter speed contests for solving this puzzle as quickly as possible.  There were even people who could solve them using only their feet. 

Clearly, this was no mere toy.

My mom bought me the solution book at some point, and I then realized that it wasn't as random as it appeared.  It was possible to get better and faster with practice. I was never one who memorized the whole solution, but I could do it when I followed the rules in the book.

With that in mind, I now imagine that each potential real estate transaction is like that unsolved Rubik's Cube. 


When you start in this business, getting handed a new buyer to work with can feel overwhelmingly difficult sometimes. 

How do they manage to generate so many questions that you can't answer?  You passed the licensing exam.  You've lived in the area for ten years.  This stuff is not as easy as you originally thought.

Over time, however, you learn how to solve the Cube faster with each successive try.  But wait a minute -  are you really solving the entire puzzle by yourself?

In reality, each transaction is only as good as its supporting cast of characters.  As I have said before, I can do my job PERFECTLY and still get nothing in return but a headache and a lighter wallet from the gas money that I had to purchase.  The optimist in me says that I also obtained a valuable, but painful, lesson.  Unfortunately, I am not always optimistic.


To be sure, the process begins with motivated (and qualified) clients.  If you are working with a buyer, and you identify the perfect place and get it under contract, you are still at the whim of the inspector, title company (or closing attorney), and the lender, not to mention any outside influences, such as loss of job, change of heart, and so on.

Picture, if you will, that you are in one of those Rubik's Cube contests I  mentioned, but you are on a relay team of sorts.  Your portion of the solution is only one side of the Cube, then you must hand it over to the next person to solve more of the puzzle.  You all have a deadline to meet, although hopefully longer than 9.18 seconds, which (according to Wikipedia) is the current record time for solving a Rubik's Cube.  You probably have several weeks to get this transaction done.

It sometimes feels painful to cede control of the transaction/cube to someone else.

The key to getting it done smoothly is to choose your team carefully.  Over the past year or so, many buyers and agents across the country realized that the lender on their team was actually cheating during the solution process, either by disassembling the Cube altogether and putting it together with some duct tape around it, or maybe by taking off the stickers and re-arranging them.  Sometimes, people ended up with a cube that couldn't even be put back together at all.  Instead, they were handed a sandwich bag filled with broken pieces of the cube instead of getting their dream home.

So, I would highly recommend having players with solid integrity on your team.  Also, you must educate your clients about what to expect throughout.  Otherwise, they may not understand why the deal didn't work out and you may end up taking the blame, even though someone else may be at fault. 

Rather than a nice, fancy completed Rubik's Cube, you could then end up with a Pet Rock instead, and nobody really wants that, do they? 

Copyright 2008 Austin Real Estate

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