Real estate is like a dog. If you don’t take care of him he will be what he is, a dog. First you feed him, and then he has to “do his business.” If you don’t let him do his business outside, you know where he will do it – anywhere he wants. So you decide to go online and learn how to “potty train” him. Really what you are learning is how to change your habits. You have to adapt your schedule around your dog’s.

It takes time and money to have a dog. The return on investment is well worth it for dog lovers. But not all people see the ROI as worth it. There are, believe it or not, some people who do not think a dog is worth the effort. They may have had a dog before, or seen what it takes to properly take care of a dog, and so they have made the choice that they would rather be dog-free.

When you go to buy a pet you can usually buy it from two types of sellers. There is the seller who is not in it just for the cash. We were that way when we made a move across the country and for various reasons could not bring our dog with us. We did not abandon the dog, but we paid to have him taken care of until he would be purchased by a well-informed owner. This cost us a lot of money, but the dog was worth it. He had been a valuable part of our family. So a couple of months after we moved, we received an email describing the family that was going to adopt our dog. We approved and he was given a good home.

Breeders are also that way. They usually take pride in their animals and make sure that whoever buys their puppies understands not only what it takes to care for the dog but also the needs of the specific breed.

Buy a dog at a puppy mill and you will see a different approach to sales. The goal is to get you to the cash register and make sure that your check clears the bank. The dog, well, forget about him, you won’t have to do anything. He/She will take care of itself. Just put out a bowl of water and a little food now and then and ‘Rover” will be all right. The dog looks and is bred to be cute and make you fall in love with him/her. As soon as the salesperson sees you or your children fall in love with the dog, they are there to tickle and cuddle him to make him look even cuter.

But you object. You think that the dog your children are looking at is too large for your family. The salesperson says, “No problem, I have the one that is just perfect for you.” This one is also kid cute and so your family is immediately attracted to this smaller dog. So you buy it without any clue about its breed, where it came from and what it is going to cost you in time and money. This salesperson does not warn you that petting a dog in the park and taking care of it at home are two totally different things. In fact, this salesperson knows nothing at all about the breed or disposition of this or almost any dog. This salesperson just knows how to react when you get emotionally involved.

We have just come out of the age of puppy mill real estate. Real Estate was pumped out and sold by people who were interested in getting the check cleared. The construction was done on the basis of how fast, how many, and how quickly the check could clear.

The real estate community, as a whole, was filled with puppy mill salespeople. “Isn’t that one cute.” “Your family will just love it.” And of course the old mantra, “You can’t go wrong with a puppy.” (Translation – you can’t go wrong investing in real estate.)

When it came to commercial real estate it was almost exactly the same, just different clients. This time the commercial puppy mill salespeople had to look for some different signs of cuteness in their product to sell it to their unsuspecting customers. “This is the right image for you.” “Here are the traffic counts for this mall.” “This city is projected to grow by X amount. Let’s take a stop at the economic development department and talk to ‘Becky.’ She will tell us more of the future of this city and this part of town.” Always, of course, followed up by the question, “What do you think?” As if the client’s thoughts or emotions were the determining factor in what was going to happen after the check cleared the bank and the puppy, or in this case the real estate, was “taken home.”

So what happens to puppy mill dogs? They often get abandoned. Sometimes because people are cruel and sometimes because people cannot take care of them any longer.

How do we know we are the puppy mill generation of real estate?


And now Las Vegas

Why the puppy mill analogy? Because you can’t fix the problem that are caused by puppy mills with more puppy mills! You can’t fix the problem of puppy mills by more salespeople who only know how to sell based on cuteness and emotion! You can’t look to the puppy mills to solve the problems they created. That is just insanity.

I want to focus on solutions as fast as anyone in the real estate business. But I know the answer does not come from the puppy mill people of yesterday.

Some real estate, just like some puppies, can be rehabilitated. We need to save every puppy that we can. We need to focus on rehabilitating real estate before it decays and has to be put to sleep. We need to do this work now and quit thinking that the puppy mill real estate will or should return.


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