“Art Imitating Life Imitating Art Imitating . . “

“You can’t turn a ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’ without a ‘Maybe’ in between.

–President Frank Underwood; “House of Cards”

You can be excused for mistaking the fake “Pussy Riot” headline (above) with the real thing.

After all, that was the real Pussy Riot sitting amongst (fictional) Congressional leaders at a White House ballroom dinner for Soviet Premier (and Putin proxy) Victor Petrov.

Pussy Riot said and did exactly what you’d expect Pussy Riot to say and do:  spit out a denunciation of Russian despotism and intolerance, smash their wine glasses on the floor, then dramatically depart.

Negotiation “Master Class”

In fact, the Pussy Riot interlude was merely an appetizer for the main course (so far) of House of Cards’ just-released house of cardsthird season:  the squaring off of evenly matched, equally cunning rivals Petrov and Frank Underwood (masterfully played by Lars Mikkelson and Kevin Spacey, respectively).

The exchanges between those two may be fictional, but the insights into negotiation tactics and strategy are real.

As for headlines, it’s hard to go back to the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal when the fictional Washington portrayed in House of Cards is so much more compelling (not to say fast-paced).

See also, “Frank Underwood’s Negotiating Secrets.”


Why is Calling Someone a “Piece of Work” an Insult?

by Ross Kaplan on February 28, 2015


Porsches, Picasso’s, and Stradivariuses

A Steinway piano is a hand-made marvel, full of intricate detail and workmanship, sought by collectors and valued accordingly.

A true “piece of work,” one might even say.

Ditto such treasures as a Stradivarius violin, a Picasso painting, a Porsche sports car, and a Rolex watch.

So . . . how come calling a person “a piece of work” is almost universally regarded as an insult, not a compliment??

Just asking . . . :-)

“Isn’t That . . . Precious?”

Interestingly, while five of the seven recognized definitions of the word “precious” are flattering (“financially valuable,” “greatly loved,” etc.), two are decidedly not:

One.  Affectedly or excessively delicate, refined, or nice (see, “precious manners”); and

Two.  Flagrant; gross (as in, “a precious fool”).

See also, “Which ‘Done” Did They Mean?“; “The Many Guises of ‘Hot Dog’“; and “Re-Duded Home.”


Showing Instruction “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

by Ross Kaplan on February 28, 2015

Contending With Old Lockboxes, Unlabeled Keys, and Security Systems

It’s just good, common sense, but you’d be surprised how many listing agents (representing Sellers) violate the following “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for making their clients’ homes easy to access.

Do_Dont“Do”:  use a new(er), easy-to-open lockbox that’s in good repair, and — if not on the front door — easy to find.

Do“:  if there are multiple keys, clearly label each one.  The ones at left are labelled “main door,” “unit,” and “garage” (they’re for a condo).

“Don’t“:  leave an alarm on prior to showings, and expect Buyers’ agents to disarm it once they’re in the house (and re-arm it afterwards).  Instead, homeowners should leave the alarm off during the day.

If that’s too risky (because of the home’s contents), valuables should be removed beforehand.

Which is actually a good idea regardless of whether the “For Sale” home has a security alarm.



Lockbox Exchange February 23-26

Like a couple thousand other Twin Cities Realtors this week, I spent about half an hour in line at a suburban hotel ballroom exchanging my old electronic lockboxes for new ones.

Make that, two lines:  one to turn in old lockboxes, and a second line to collect an equal number of new ones (the people filling all those new lockbox orders are pictured, above).

The trick to getting through quickly? (or at least, line #1).

Avoiding the line(s) with agents wheeling multiple, oversized suitcases full of old lockboxes.

New & Improved?  Maybe

I feel the same way about new lockboxes that I do about software updates.

Namely, “new and improved” is often worse — and more complicated.

In this case, the new lockboxes sport two enhancements:  1) they’re bluetooth-enabled; and 2) they’re taller, with a bigger key chamber (the old ones would occasionally jam).

P.S.:  I’m aware of at least one VERY successful local Realtor who — at least in their capacity as a listing agent — dispenses with electronic lockboxes altogether, and instead uses the old, highly reliable (and simple!) mechanical kind.


Seller Disclosure Options in Multiple Offers: Tell Some, Tell None, Tell All

February 26, 2015

Ala Carte Disclosure vs. “All or Nothing” Unlike, say, Minnesota’s mandatory Seller Disclosure, home sellers in multiple offers have complete discretion over whom they tell. To be sure, the default is telling everyone:  the more Buyers competing for a home, the higher the price (at least usually). That’s why Edina Realty’s standard listing contract states […]

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A “Dismal” Take on Record Life Expectancy

February 24, 2015

I Think That’s Called “Burying the Lead” (Of a Sort) It’s not for nothing that economics is known as “the dismal science.” In the same vein, The Wall Street Journal can have a decidedly “glass half-empty” perspective on things. Take, for example, its slant on this objectively happy news: “In its first revision of mortality […]

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Memo to Virtual Stager: “Don’t Add Any Ghosts”

February 24, 2015

That’s Not the Former Owner, Is It?? It could be that this Minnetonka home is inhabited by ghosts. Theory #2:  a slightly overzealous virtual stager added a see-through human profile in the lower right of the photo (above). Weirdly, the stair bannister is approximately where the ghost’s spine would be (do ghosts have spines??). See […]

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Misstating a Home’s Square Feet

February 24, 2015

Man Bites Dog — Real Estate Edition; or How Big is Too Big?* First, a stipulation:  in my experience selling residential real estate in Minnesota for over a decade, something like 95% of the time a listed property’s square feet on MLS is accurate to within a few percentage points, max, of the actual square feet. […]

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