As we grow up, we are taught truths. The funny thing about our truths is that they tend to change over time. When we rest on our laurels, clinging too fiercely to our belief systems without question, we risk missing the memo on change altogether. And in these times, more than ever, our inboxes are full.
"Don’t run with scissors." OK, that was a good one. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and call it timeless. But, that is because I have considered the benefits and the potential costs. If anything other than an umbilical cord needs cutting, a swift gait should suffice. Where risk avoidance is concerned, I’m all over it.
Other bits of wisdom we have picked up over the years, however, just beg for evaluation, reconsideration, and a new perspective. Take bus-bench advertising, please.
One of the givens during my own formative years involved the government-mandated waiting period between eating and swimming. I was taught that this was a necessary death-avoidance measure. The problem is that long after science suggested that this applied only if I had recently consumed an entire side of beef and washed it down with a bottle of Jim Beam, I was still dutifully sitting poolside letting my Pop-Tart digest — and missing a few games of Marco Polo in the process.
Sitting too close to the television is bad for your eyes. Wrong. The MLS is for and between agents. Wrong again.
Recently on my blog, I alluded to all of the silly shorthand that agents use in their MLS (multiple listing service) property descriptions. Then a reader reminded, "Listing agents need to realize that buyers are reading these descriptions, not just other agents." Newer agents may be saying, "Duh," but so many others who grew up writing their MLS copy for an exclusively agent audience don’t seem to be getting this modern-day nuance.
The MLS is no longer a closed system, an agent back-office. It’s time we stopped treating it like one.
CLAFATS (call listing agent for appointment to show), BTVAB4COE (buyer to verify all before close of escrow), SWEOB (seller will entertain offers between), and CF/GD (I honestly don’t know) are acronyms that may mean something to other agents. But it you stop to consider that the MLS now doubles as your property brochure, a brochure that with one final tap of the "enter" key is instantaneously published to the world, writing in nonsensical jargon no longer makes sense.
It is generally agreed that allowing a misspelled word to creep into one’s resume is poor form. Yet in the MLS, which now serves as a widely distributed sample of our work, statements like "Wayne’s coating" (for wainscoting) or "stainless steal refrigerater" (both of which I saw this week) are delivered unapologetically by agents who are either apathetic or unaware of the power of spell check. Until recently, I admit I was guilty of a repeat infraction. "Please see supplement" is a call to action I routinely included in my MLS remarks, until I finally stopped to consider that the people for whom my words were really intended would never see my carefully crafted supplement at all. You see, my compelling supplement isn’t included in the IDX (Internet Data Exchange) feed. I was writing to a hundred agents while ignoring the millions of potential buyers.
We like to have fun with the horrible property photos we see floating around the Internet, the ones that show a sink full of pixelated dirty dishes or the agent’s foot, but it is no longer an inside joke. If the consequences to our selling clients are not enough to inspire us to a higher standard, maybe the idea of the MLS as our new virtual bus bench is. I suspect few would approve a proof for their calendar magnets that showed three Januarys, yet somehow the MLS copy I saw yesterday promoting a 1,200-square-foot home with 300 bathrooms slipped through the cracks.
The MLS is now a form of mass marketing, regardless of what we learned growing up. It is a page out of the agent-author’s resume, and it reflects on all agents collectively. Do we want respect? Then we need to stop being careless where it counts. If you cross your eyes, they really won’t stay that way — and the MLS is really not just between agents anymore. Running with scissors? Well, that’s just irresponsible and is still a pretty bad idea.
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