A marriage can really only work if both parties have some leeway to say things that the other person may not like, without fear of devastating reprisal. For instance. If I told my wife that a certain top makes her shoulders look too big, or she told me that everything I’ve ever tried on makes me look fat, we’d assume that this is okay and won’t necessarily lead to a divorce. We can say these things because there’s some form of engineered commitment here, something greater that will withstand the sort of attacks that come when you take your wife shoe shopping and she doesn’t find the sort of shoes she’s looking for.
Because of this open-thought policy, marriages are generally more substantial and rigid than casual relationships, the sorts that feature only those immature, early niceties. If I were a single person, and a girl who is not my wife asked me if a certain top made her shoulders look too big, I’d suggest that to think such a thing is pure sacrilege, and that her shoulders are the most perfect example that anyone could ever hope for. In fact, my eyes can see only imperfection in the surrounding world after having finally seen such a set of shoulders. If my pants/shirts/shorts/shoes/hats make me look fat, and I asked her about that, and she weren’t my wife but instead, some lady on the street, she’d tell me to stop being silly, that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, those pants make me look thin, and if I wanted, I could drink Whole Milk and not just two percent.
That’s because initial relationships are heavy on flattery and light on everything else. They are more fun because they are less encumbered with any sort of truth. This preference for superficial fawning is why relationships between people have a tendency to erode, and this same preference is why some of the most outwardly successful real estate relationships are some of the biggest failures. Without any commitment level, there’s only fear of what might be said wrong, which leads to a glossing over of the details and the absence of lasting truth.
Buyers and sellers alike tend to bounce between agents, depending somewhat on competent representation, but mostly on whim and weekend fancy. If a buyer calls me to see houses, I’d like to assume that the buyer is doing so because he or she is remarkably intelligent, and has decided to increase their particular variety of intelligence by combining it with my variety. I’d like to think that a buyer knows my track record, my successes and my failures, and thinks they’d like to partner with someone who has far more of the prior and few of the latter. I’d like to think these things, but the fact is that a buyer might be seeing houses with me because they’re bored, and because their other agent is busy shopping.
A lack of purposeful loyalty is what makes every car dealer ask you what they need to put you in a car TODAY. They don’t ask what you’d like them to keep an eye out for, so that they might call you when that yellow PT Cruiser crosses the auction block in Sometown, Indiana. They ask what they can do to make you drive away in that new car, and they do this because they know if you drive away without that new car, the odds of you ever returning are very low. It’s because of this that they promise the world, promise that the particular variety of car you want is so much better than the other variety that might be available down the road. They tell you what they can when they can because they know you’re not going to come back.
If you’re that car shopper, do you suppose you’ll be getting nothing but the perfect truth from that salesman? If you show up on a Saturday unannounced and drive from dealer to dealer that day, so you think you’ll be getting a single opinion that isn’t entirely and completely self serving, with the dealer being the party served? Of course not. You’ll be hearing mouthfuls of skew, and you’ll be left to decipher fact from fiction later on, when you drive home with the same car you started the day with.
If, however, you develop a relationship with a dealer, that dealer has the leeway to tell you the truth about that yellow PT Cruiser. You shouldn’t buy it, and he’ll tell you that. He’ll tell you that you’d be better off in something different, and while he doesn’t have that something different on the lot at that moment, he’ll get one and he’ll tell you when he has it. The dealer can do this because he’s relatively certain you won’t be running off the buy another car from the neighboring dealer, just because they have a shiny new sign and a guy in an ape outfit spinning a sign.
In the end, this isn’t about the loyalty to that dealer or to your Realtor. It’s about you, the client, being served with accurate assessments of markets, of houses, of what it is that makes the most sense for you. If you’re pin balling between agents, you cannot expect to gain any lasting market insight, and so this isn’t a plea for loyalty for the sake of a business model, this is a plea for loyalty so that you, as the client, can listen to unbiased advice and make the best decision possible. I’d never let you buy a yellow PT Cruiser.