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Steer Clear Of Ol’ Joe Btfsplk!

Oct 14, 2010

Posted by

Joe Klock, Sr.

Joe Klock, Sr., CRB, CRS, engaged in real estate sales, management and training since 1949, is the retired Dean of Coldwell Banker University. He presently produces educational material, bot Read more

Few, if any, “funny papers” aficionados between 1934 and 1977 were unaware of the citizens of Dogpatch, and that comic community’s best-known citizen, Lil Abner, created by cartoonist/humorist/philosopher Al Capp.

Less famous was a character named Joe Btfsplk (whose name is properly pronounced by sounding a raspberry or Bronx Cheer).

Joe was a nice enough guy who never saw the sunny side of life because of a personal thundercloud which constantly hung over his head, even on the brightest of days.  

Worse than that, Joe’s canopy of gloom was contagious, generating a jinx on everyone and everything in his vicinity.

Although he himself was fictional, and the source of much merriment among readers, Btfsplk’s (that is, unfortunately, an unutterable word) real-life counterparts exist in every segment of human society, including our real estate world.

Prophets of Doom and Gloom

When “things get tough,” especially following periods of easy prosperity, the prophets of doom and gloom, who have been lurking in the shade, emerge as purveyors of the same negative mind set and do their best to rain on every parade in sight.

Just as people who have nothing to do hate to do it alone (they’re called time thieves), the Joe B’s in our midst prowl about the marketplace, seeking to cast a pall of pessimism whithersoever they roam, aided and abetted by an enthusiastically downbeat media.

Their principal weapon is “awfulizing,” the practice of searching out every scintilla of bad economic news, pause-giving prediction and mini-snippet of negative data, using them to seed the clouds of fear and uncertainty hovering over prospective buyers and sellers.

This is not to suggest that reality should be denied, or that pure Pollyannas can revoke the law of supply and demand by waving a wand of blind optimism.  The inescapable fact is that, in most areas of the country, the ranks of willing and able buyers and sellers are thinner now than in the recent past, and no amount of PMA will replenish them in the near future.

The Marketer’s Mission

That said, though, there is a vast difference between a cloudy sky and one behind which there is no sunshine.

Our mission as marketers was never merely to find a need and fill it, or to gather information and dole it out.  Although, in the past, millions of real estate practitioners people did no more than that and prospered, modern technology was skimming that cream off the top long before the current dip in activity.

Filling the basic human need for shelter may be at the core of our activities, but truly professional service always did, still does and always will rise to a higher level— that of finding human problems and solving them.

Cutting to the choice, those who wish to avoid the Btfsplk jinx must choose to avert their gaze from the mud below and the cloud above and focus on the road ahead, on which there is no shortage of people with problems.  Finding those people and solving those problems is the name of today’s game—and people without problems are simply not players.

Sellers unwilling or unable to settle for the best offer obtainable from the best buyer in the current market are not really sellers and should be resolutely avoided by true real estate professionals, after earnestly trying to persuade them to take properties off the market.

Listings that are both unsold and unsalable unnecessarily worsen the climate of public opinion and feed the frenzy of hand-wringing.

Would-be buyers who are both eager and able to buy should be encouraged to do so while choices abound and financing is still available.

Those sitting on the sidelines, waiting for “things” to get better and/or prices to bottom out, are destined to join the hordes of past holdouts who did exactly the same thing during previous slow-downs, later to sing that most pathetic of real estate dirges, “Why, I remember when I could've ......!”

Courage of Your Conviction

Doubts and fears among prospects are easily understandable when they are deluged with negative news and dire predictions.  However, beyond every real estate storm in modern American history, there has been an inevitable recovery and a resumption of the upward march that has created more wealth, security and personal comfort than any other single factor. That’s what unfortunate folks like Joe Btfsplk and those he infects will miss because their feet are mired in that mud and their eyes focused on that overhead cloud.

What they need is the courage of your conviction that when their problem is solvable, the solution is doable and the skies ahead are clear and sunny, the time to act is always now.

Failing to recognize the knock of opportunity is, in the long run, a bad rap.  And it was why poor Ol’ Joe was all wet.