Real estate agony and ecstasy


The sun emerged, a momentary victor in its never-ending battle for primacy here in the Pacific Northwest. The clouds stood down.

I hastily entered the Pioneer Mall in downtown Portland in a mad dash for the Apple store.

Get in, get out, soak up the rays.


The Apple store is a giant, porcelain-lined sardine can. I enter. Ten feet in, a salesperson greets me. Answers every question with authority. I am out the door within minutes, purchase in hand.


Contrary to what you might think, I don’t love Apple. They are far from perfect. In fact, each time I make a purchase I consider my contribution to the company’s estimated 68 billion dollar cash reserve – the pile often referred to as more money than they know what to do with.

I know what they could do with it. Build stateside manufacturing in cities hit hard by the bad economy. Detroit. New Orleans. Stockton. Create jobs. Stimulate local economies. Housing.

No, this is not altruism. It would be an investment that would return an entirely new customer base able to afford their goods. And stem their ongoing supply chain struggles.

For me, these are not little things. But when placed on the emotional scale and weighed against Apple’s positive things, well – the scale tips in their favor.

It’s why we never flinch when they slide our card, effortlessly, through the bauble in the salesperson’s hand. Or feel remorse days later when we see the object of aluminum desire lying on our couch.


My iPhone is drained of power, the result of a long, impromptu call.

A broker. At wit’s end. The pressures of this sleepwalking market. The erosion of home prices. Sellers under duress, demanding lower commissions. Agents, unable to articulate a believable rebuttal.

The unfortunate result of decades of brand neglect.

If ever there was a time when an agent’s commissions should be highly regarded, it would be now. A time when sellers, now anxious, would feel compelled to pay top dollar for the best and brightest to get the job done.

My caller hoped I could help him choose a coach to school his agents on how to better overcome client objections.

Some scripts. Wrestling moves. Games, really. Covered in a half-day of training with a catered lunch.

A band-aid over an gaping wound.

A momentary fix to a deep, deep problem.

I couldn’t agree to that. I offered a different remedy. One requiring days, weeks, months and years to play out.

He listened.


Apple. A seductress. Its billions, our offering to partake in a bit of consumerist ecstasy.

What they do wrong matters little. We value them for what they do right.

But Apple is just a computer company in the same way you are just a real estate brokerage. Yet no one really thinks of Apple that way, do they? That’s not an accident. They created that, carefully, over the long haul.

You cannot fix deep-seeded issues of brand, trust, meaning and value with a script.

It takes something slower, harder, more costly and potentially destructive.

Yeah, it’s hard.

But remember, Apple was screwed up once too.