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The First Rule of Fight Club

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Property Report SEA. Posted: 29th Oct 2013

Insomnia. Raw violence. Anarchy. Sounds like real estate to me. Let me twist the rubber band tight, real tight, then let it unravel at both ends. Faster pussycat. Don't blink, otherwise you just might miss something important.

You may recall one of my favourite movies, Fight Club, and that sublime, waterlogged line "What is the first rule of Fight Club? -Wake up! You! The one at the back of the room! -Now that I have your attention, the answer, of course, is that the first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club."

In the mass hysteria we know as property, without a doubt more blood has been spilled by brokers over deals than ever was laid to waste in the dark side of Hollywood. Forget getting all kinky. Is that a rope you're holding behind your back? No, sex stops here. We want a blood sport.

Let's have a look at our anti-hero in this tale, the broker. A broker is someone who arranges a transaction between two consenting parties and earns a commission. Sure, the trip between point A and point B sounds simple but the true trophy is not just closing the deal, but taking the money to the bank.

A good number of deal trails are not that dissimilar to running the prison gauntlet in maximum security. Badass, back stabbing infidels who claim to be your friends are ready at every twist and turn to knock you flat on your feet and put the squeeze on your client. The term "hero to zero" is a completely appropriate way to describe being marginalized at any point of the process, and there is no award for second place. Yes, call our heroes kings or queens of the cage, modern day gladiators out to make a few dollars more.

But other blood-sucking brokers are not the only creatures our anti-hero must slay on his way to the prize, and your clients are not merely gullible saps writhing in your enemy's clutches.

Make no mistake: Where buyers and sellers are involved, they want to make the most, or pay the least, and whoever gets the job done is the flavor of the day.

Over the span of the last decade in the trade I've seen things that make my skin crawl. Wildly successful sales where jubilant buyers are cashed to the hilt, and still they try to evade paying the deal maker in a way that would make Zeta's warlords seem like the Powerpuff Girls.

While I am dogmatically opposed to civilians carrying guns, I'm not totally averse to supporting the use of Tasers or even brass knuckles, which can be used on clients who don't honour their obligations. Of course, brokers' own worst enemies are not their customers but other agents who attempt to worm themselves directly into the path of an oncoming commission.

Bruce Lee would know how to deal with this, but Bruce is dead. So what I am suggesting here is perhaps forming a Real Estate Fight Club to deal with these blatant injustices, which occur in the name of God, Country and Commission.

Suddenly, glancing over my shoulder, I hear the crescendoing howl of discontent take charge of the noise brigade. I take a moment to compose myself, wipe the perspiration off the palm of my hands and, in the interest of self-preservation, skip rule two and go straight to the third rule of Fight Club: If someone yells "stop", goes limp or taps out, the fight is over. Until the next fight, that is.

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C9 Hotelworks Founder and Managing Director Bill Barnett is a noted columnist, author and leading authority on travel trend, hotels and property.

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