Harry Hustler – Round Table

With the success of Harry Hustler’s debut as a speaker at a recent state NAR meeting, which he was invited to share and impart his long tenure real estate wisdom, Harry was asked to remain for a more e intimate round table discussion after the main festivities. Harry, uncomfortable with the modest notoriety, was however heartened that this extension and further definition of his business philosophy in the hope that it may help some looking for a new and different perspective to incorporate into their brokerage and real estate repertoire.

Harry had apparently hit a nerve with the masses with his explanation of people being more important than real estate and other related topics. He had no illusions, however, about the implications of his speech being dismissed by several in attendance as hyperbole and jaundiced voo-doo real estate. He knew that the hard core “Blue Suede” shoe brokers, many of whom were struggling, were probably not very receptive to this foreign philosophical approach. However, this was not new territory as he had weathered this close mindedness many times over his career. Experience showed that people whose piety and pride did not allow them to grow in the business were soon gone.

In the moments following the announcement of the late forum, Harry with his modest perspective, was not so much fearful of giving too little information, but more so by giving too much. Giving freely the full monty on the matter in which Harry saw the real estate world and how he had successfully traversed the business for so many years was a drink from a fire hydrant for most. Very few understood it.

The organizers consulted with Harry and later announced a decision to conduct an impromptu round table discussion later that evening. Harry figured most brokers would not have interest in hanging around for the session. In any event, he figured the group would be culled down to a manageable size. The round table was announced for 7:00pm that evening. It was to be an open forum, where questions could be asked of Harry by those attending.

Of course, Harry fretted a bit, not wanting to seem overly omniscient and yet sincere in his responses. Again, he figured that if one or two practitioners heard the true meaning and character of his responses and took them to heart in their operations he would have made a difference. So he took a breath and hoped he would not embarrass himself to much.

As the inevitable cocktail party wound down, Harry located and entered the room at the prescribed time and immediately noted the round table with inquisitors sitting three and four rows deep around it. A surprising site, but apparently these people were apparently thirsty for some sort of gospel that would lead them to the Promised Land and shed a different light on their practice and their lives.

Harry took his seat, and asked who had the first question.

  • “Hi, Mr. Hustler, my name is Jane and I have been in practice for 10 years, starting in residential and then advancing to commercial about four years ago. Can you more fully explain why people are more important than real estate?”

Harry hesitated for a moment, knowing that this question was one upon which all real estate business was predicted.

  • “Jane, real estate is an innate object. Brick, steel, wood, plumbing, mechanical and other elements really have no value. Even land. These elements have no emotions, motivations, desires, ambitions or dreams. However, when people become involved or uninvolved the landscape changes. Buildings don’t move, get a divorce, die, and create profits or value. It is only when the application of the human element becomes involved that the intangible elements of real estate start to come alive. If you have ever driven through a small town whose grand old buildings are vacant and boarded up, you will validate this concept. An old established inner city location once consider a commercially viable area now hampered by crime, drugs and economic decay, is another example. Equally so, if you drive down Rodeo Drive and note the incredible activity of people moving in and out of shops, apartments, hotels or other venues, you will see the antithesis or opposite end of the spectrum. So if a property is valueless, or if it is invaluable, only people make the difference.”

“Next question,” Harry said.

  • “Thank you for being here Mr. Hustler. My name is Charles and I have been in the commercial business for three years. What is it that people seek when buying, selling, and leasing or otherwise transacting real estate business?”

Harry contemplated.

  • “The real factor for all real estate transactions is people “benefits”. If there are no benefits to the participants of a real estate transaction there will be no transaction. Perhaps the single biggest reason for failed real estate transactions is the inability of the broker agent to define the benefits necessary to satisfy his client’s objectives and to determine how those benefits will satisfy the needs of the market. Many brokers are more anxious to get the listing than taking the time to understand the client’s needs.”

“Who has another question,” Harry said.

  • “Mr. Hustler, my name is Lisa. I am relatively new to the commercial business. How do find out what benefits a client is seeking?”

Another Pause.

  • “Lisa, the key to discovering the needs or benefits desired by a client is to use “counseling.” This technique is primarily associated with listening and questioning. Most agents talk far too much, with far too much emphasis by the broker on “selling” the client. Listening to what a client says and then asking non threatening probing questions that cannot be answered “yes” or “no” is the true key to finding out the motivation. The art of using these techniques may prove that your client does not need your services or that his expectations are impossible to fulfill. The best way to practice this technique is to use your kids as pseudo clients. Ask them questions. Don’t make statements. You will find a remarkable difference in your relationship…”

“Another question out there?”

  • Mr. Hustler, said, “Amy, should we entertain dealing with every client seeking our services?”
  • “No. You must augment your time and talent and practice being a “don’t wanter”. You must decide who to work with based on your criteria for taking on acceptable clients. Those standards should be in writing and defined. Refusing a clients property or problem situation, is so unusual that we have seen clients actually come back to the broker and ask them to reconsider. This places the control of the relationship in favor of the broker. The church does not do real estate and you don’t do miracles. Be realistic in taking on projects and clients. Take your time analyzing both.”

“One more question,” said Harry.

  • “Mr. Hustler, my name is Jim and I have had trouble being paid for my services. The buyer and seller always look for ways to thwart paying for my services. Is there any way you can help me?”
  • “Payment for your services should be established by a contract or listing agreement, long before you begin work. A good client will expect this. More importantly, you can have the best listing agreement and no control or no listing agreement and the best control. The difference is your assessment of the client. Is this someone who will honor their commitment to pay for your services once performed? You validate a surreptitious buyer or seller’s negative impression of you when you take less than what has been previously negotiated. The difference is whether your opinion of your work is somehow less at closing than it was before the property problem or client problem was solved. You can either work for tips or be paid as a professional. Your call.”

As the evening wore on Harry continued to answer many more questions. Two hours later, he ended the session and thanked those in attendance. As Harry walked through the hotel to his car the night air seemed to soothe his mental exhaustion. “Mr. Hustler, Mr. Hustler,” a voice called from another car in the lot. A middle-aged lady approached. “Mr. Hustler, my name Joyce and I have been seriously thinking about abandoning my 15 year commercial real estate career as I have been disillusioned by the business. You have revealed a new and different way tonight that is refreshing and new. May I call upon you to learn more?” Harry, fatigued and yet grateful for the inquiry said “Yes, here is my business card. Call me and we can talk more.” “Thank you,” and then the lady disappeared.

Harry’s hope of affecting at least one person with his day’s activities had been fulfilled. There was a future for the way that Harry practiced, and for the way he knew it should be.

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