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We had broker preview today in Del Mar Heights. I like to provide a full lunch buffet  – having food and drinks keep the agents around longer, they view more of the home, and we get to talk amongst ourselves.

I miss the old days when we actually drove around together to view homes on caravan day.  The best was back in the 1980s when a bunch of newbies hired on at Century 21 Campbell & Associates in Mission Valley (which later became Merrill Lynch Realty).  Because it was a big office, (there were over 70 agents), every week there were several new listings to preview – and we would drive together and talk shop.  It was a great way to grow up in the business, and several of us are still in the business – Jeff Campbell, Mark Freed, Marti Gellens, and David Cabot.

It’s why Kayla and I are on caravan each week, to talk shop.

We do get to chat it up with our fellow agents while visiting each house, and when you are the host like I was today, you can get into some extended conversations.

I brought two trays of sandwiches, chips and pickles from Panera, and a large pizza from the local Bellasario’s Pizza around the corner.  The food was a hit, and many agents sat down for a spell to chat.

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Two agents were discussing the broker ‘pitch session’ on Monday afternoon down at Hotel Indigo.  They said two agents ‘put a deal together’ at yesterday session, and were admiring the other times that has happened.

I was biting my tongue, but I didn’t say a word.  At least not until one of them asks, “What about you Jim, how come you don’t go to the pitch sessions?”

I said, “Because I think they are unethical.”

Jaws drop immediately, and I explain that it is my belief that these backroom off-market deals made at private broker pitch sessions are not right for three reasons:

1.  They deprive the seller of full exposure, and potentially a better offer.

2.  Any below-market price hurts the neighborhood comps.

3.  It deprives other agents from having a chance to earn a commission.

One agent described a case where one of the sellers had Alzheimer’s and was living at the house, and I agreed that in a case like that I could understand the sensitivity.  But every other listing should go on the MLS for full exposure.

jo a. Thankfully, Jo Ambrogio was there, quietly eating her lunch.  She is a long-time local broker (licensed since 1977) and still very active – we usually see her driving by herself during broker preview each week.  Jo added,

“Nobody sees my listings until they go on the open market.”

And that was the end of the discussion.

As the agents filed out, they all thanked me for the food and lively conversation, and I think a few people will be thinking differently about the next broker pitch session they attend.

We ended up having over 50 agents come by today.  I told the seller that 40 of them probably didn’t have a buyer, but will be talking about the house around the water cooler.  The ten that might have a buyer will probably turn into 2-3 showings.

They like the food too!

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