The fam and I were on the Front Range last week for part of Bridger’s spring break and are over in Telluride this weekend. While driving over hills and through valleys, we have been reminded how fortunate we are to be alive and free and safe, as the scenery of our remarkable state shone through every window.
Along the way, I picked up the local papers and magazines and immediately noticed what I see in the local pubs at home: page after page of real estate ads. While not unusual, it is emblematic of our “selling the lifestyle” culture, which has become as controversial as it is omnipresent. The concept of “build it and they will come” is now a culture war unto itself.
What caught my attention were the number of “ads,” not of local listings but rather what I call “the award show.” Broker after broker announcing their accolades for their performance last year — double-black diamond, platinum, pinnacle, inner circle, etc. And just like the red carpet, the pics of the top producers harken Hollywood with coifed hair, in the latest fashion and striking a pose.
Frankly, I find it embarrassing as I know of no other industry that touts its achievements in such a showy fashion and so many receiving the same award. Further, I would bet the general public finds it as ridiculous as it is inconsequential, not to mention a strong incentive to thumb to the next section.
Full disclosure: I advertise. I buy them in this paper and others. I use them to market my new listings, highlight my sales and work to provide something of value to buyers and sellers by way of tips, market data and industry news. And yes, my ads sometimes feature my own cheesy headshot.
And I’ll admit, if I’ve had a good year, I might mention the dollar amount I sold or how I stacked up against my colleagues. But guess what? Every broker had a good year! New ones, old ones, good, bad, small-time and high-end luxury. But if everyone gets a trophy why does it matter? Are we that desperate to find a “winner”? And is that how one should choose an agent?
On a recent call with a seller interviewing me as his prospective broker, I was asked what my rank was last year. Captain, sergeant, general? Joking aside, I told him I had a solid year, but also mentioned many others did as well. Rather than providing a specific number, I mentioned what I think sets me apart, my use of social media, personalized videos and monthly newspaper column.
I also happen to live in the same neighborhood, so I might stand out by way honestly saying the area is so appealing, I bought my home here. I was certain I had it in the bag. When the prospect told me he signed with someone else, I immediately called for hair, make-up, wardrobe and a plastic surgeon.
In all seriousness, this is the way of the world right now. Pickings are slim and it’s competitive for buyers, brokers, lenders and even uncertain for sellers who can easily lose hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars if they don’t ask for the sun, the moon and the stars. Problem is, to do that you must have something to sell that is literally out of this universe or one-of-a-kind.
Case in point, Tommy Hilfiger netting $19 million this week, after selling his ski-in, ski-out home on Aspen Mountain having done nothing more than flush the toilets the four months he owned it. This coming just weeks after less than an acre of vacant land at the base of Lift 1 purchased for $10 million last summer was sold for more $76 million.
Cashing in here in this valley is nothing new. It began the moment the first vein of silver was unearthed, returned after the war as skiing emerged along with big city culture and continues today with wild abandon. And the gold rush never stopped.
Simply put, there is no greater demonstration of the insular snowflake-filled globe we occupy, as cities are decimated in mere days in Europe and rising inflation and interest rates are again squeezing working families. And like movie stars, we don’t need to flaunt it. There are so many things more consequential.
Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a Realtor with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Learn more about him at http://www.aspendreamhome.com.