Why Don’t I Write Many Contracts? It’s All About the Cornelia Marie

It’s most likely safe to assume the irony in Sunday’s confessional post has become apparent to all four people who read this website on a regular basis. And so we move on to the more important part of the story – how is it that I’m not spending my time writing offer after offer for the same buyer before successfully having an offer accepted?

It’s really not much more complicated than what you see on Deadliest Catch after the crab pot has come over the rail and the haul of eight-legged tastiness is being unceremoniously dumped onto the sorting table. King crab season seems to be the easier of the two, at least in terms of catching what you want, so instead let’s discuss this from the standpoint of the winter hell of opelia crab fishing season.

During opelia crab season the boats have permits from Alaska Game and Fish to (obviously) catch opelia crab. Which means other species are safe. And per the permit, only male crab of a certain size can be kept; undersized and female crab are tossed back over the side and return to the ocean’s depths.

Photo courtesy of Corey Arnold(Anyone else ever wonder how long it takes a crab to fall back to the ocean floor? Are they screaming in slow motion as they do it? Really? Just me?)

Sometimes the crab pot is loaded with opies and opies only, making the job much easier. Other times, there pots are a mix of opies and junk crab (read: crab that don’t meet the permit’s specifications) and the crabmen are left with what they call a heavy sort. Or so Mike Rowe says.

Nearly all of my clients start with a heavy sort (this assumes they know what they want and where they want to be … if they’re unsure of what area they want to be in, for instance, then we’re still at the permit stage until some reasonable parameters are set.)

The ultimate goal is to find the homes that best meet their criteria and also aren’t junk crab hiding in disguise (think short sales and sellers who haven’t heard it’s not 2005.) So we start with the heavy sort, toss the junk aside and go to the keepers.

On Deadliest Catch, the crabmen are checking for excess barnacles or missing legs before the crab goes in the tank; likewise, my clients are asked to take a look at the larger batch of homes, eliminating those that clearly don’t work and providing me the feedback so I can take over the sort from there. This is where the honesty and communication I discussed a couple of weeks back comes into play. It’s two steps beyond useless to tell me you want a home in Peoria and then accuse me of withholding homes because I didn’t mention the perfect home in Buckeye, 40 miles away.

(Side note … I received a less than friendly note telling me the couple who served as the basis for the communication post found a home with a “good agent.” Good for them. And I hold my original position – when it records, we’ll discover it wasn’t anywhere near where they wanted to be because the home they wanted didn’t exist in the area they wanted for the price they needed. If I’m wrong about that, you’ll read it here.)

Of course, there isn’t always crab in the pots. Blanks are an unfortunate way of life … same bait, same process, wrong location and nothing happens. Much the same can happen with a home search, more often than not because of price. It’s great that a buyer wants a 3,000 square foot home in Scottsdale for $125,000, but it ain’t gonna happen. Those homes don’t exist. The boat’s not on the crab, again as Mike Rowe says.

Here’s where the difference comes between a crab boat captain and some buyers. If the boat isn’t on the crab, the captain adjusts his search and moves on to where the crab happen to be. Not all buyers do that. Some are content to keep catching junk crab and chasing short sales or auction properties even though either route is a great way to never purchase a home. Which is cool … they can do this as much as they want. Just not with me or my buyers’ agent. We’re in the business of selling homes, not writing contracts.

In other words, we do a little bit of sorting ourselves. If a buyer wants to buy a home and is willing to listen to our advice based on our acquired expertise, then we’ll do everything we can to find that home for them – and generally in less time than a whole lot of other agents. But if a buyer wants to fish without catching anything, there are a lot of other boats they can jump aboard to help them sail those barren crab grounds.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.


  • Rich Jacobson 7 years ago

    So, basically what you’re saying, is that you’re in business to generate revenue (make money – to put a roof over your family’s heads and feed/clothe them), and that you’re not operating as a non-profit tour company?

  • Howard Arnoff 7 years ago

    JD, a comment from reader number 5.

    Our job is to help people buy the most house for the least money that meets most of their wants and needs. In the end, it generally comes down to some compromise as long as there are no “rule outs”.

    Real estate reality is sometimes difficult for people to accept. Here in Charleston, we’re fortunate that our market is not as distressed as Florida so what you can buy in Florida can’t be bought here for the same price nor can you offer 50 percent off because some buyers heard you can do it elsewhere.

    And since you’re not so busy writing wasted contracts, surely you have enough time to stop by and be reader number 3 over at my place where I can’t turn a phrase quite as elegantly as you do ;>)

  • BawldGuy 7 years ago

    First of all — “Anyone else ever wonder how long it takes a crab to fall back to the ocean floor? Are they screaming in slow motion as they do it?”

    New t-shirt. Thanks for nothing.

    As a 22 year old with no buffer between my thoughts and my mouth, I used to lose home buyers often. One time I even sent an ‘I told ya so’ postcard when they bought in the exact neighborhood I’d previously told them was their only chance of success.

    They weren’t amused. 🙂 It took a few more years before realizing I wasn’t suited for that side of the biz. This post is one of your best 2010 efforts.

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