The 11th and 12th Commandments

Roger B. MacDonald, GRI, associate broker with Realty Quest Inc. in Nashua, N.H. shares this experience in Realtor Magazine Online for 5/2/2006.

At least 30 years ago — when the world was young, and I was a lot younger than I am now at 84 — I was showing homes to a young couple who had proven to be very hard to please. Through them, I learned about the 11th Commandment: “Thou shall not impose thy preferences upon a prospect.”

I had shown the couple many homes in their price range, but nothing suited them. Finally, in desperation, I decided to show them a home that had been on the market for a very long time. The problem was that someone had painted all of the rooms in various patterns of black and white. There were squares, circles, polka dots, black ceilings, white ceilings, and decorated ceilings — but everything was black or white. It was hideous.

Before showing them the property, I thought very hard about preparing them for the shock and telling them, “It’s only paint. You can save a lot of money by just repainting it the way you like it once you own it.” But I finally decided to let the house shock them first before I called attention to the odd decor.

We walked into the living room. The wife looked at the walls and ceiling and said nothing. We walked into the dining room. The wife looked at the walls and ceiling and said nothing. We walked into the kitchen. She looked at walls and ceiling and said, “I can’t believe it — this is me!”

It was a nice sale, and an even better lesson.

I had a similar experience, also about 30 years ago, when I was working at Radio Shack.

In those days, Radio Shack sold only its own Realistic brand products, many of which performed well, but were exceedingly ugly.

A customer asked to see a mid-price AM/FM portable radio. I demonstrated a black (silver was in), boxy (round was hot), too large, over-priced radio covered in simulated leather (metallic look was current) that sounded good, but which was understandably a “hard-sell.”

And then I asked “How many would you like?”

The response, “I’ll take six,” nearly knocked me over.

Like Roger MacDonald, I learned the 11th Commandment — not to impose my preferences. But I also learned the more important 12th — to ask for the order, no matter what!

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