Homebuyer Associates Mobile Menu

I Just Don’t Think We’re That Good

(but we’re pretty good)

I was notified this week that Homebuyer Associates joined an “elite group of small businesses” and that we had won a 2012 Best of Milwaukee award.   The award was being given by the Board of Review Commerce Association (BRCA).  They were making this award to Michael D. Holloway and Seamus P. Holloway of Homebuyer Associates.

I recall all sorts of real estate agents, doctors and lawyers touting their 5-Star credentials in a local magazine.  Cool, I thought.  Then I remembered Groucho Marx.  Like Groucho, I’m reluctant to be part of any club that would have me as a member.  Something fishy was going on.

I never met anyone from BRCA, never talked to anyone from BRCA and a BRCA official has never been a client of ours.  How could Seamus and I be deemed that good when BRCA knew nothing about us?   The link below explained it all.  It was a marketing scheme.


I’m on a personal mission to make words matter.   If words don’t matter, if there is no validity (like this award), then it is difficult to have faith in service commitments.  The consumer, seeing a 5-Star rating, has expectations.  What they are really seeing is a paid advertisement.  If they knew that, the expectation would change.

The failing is that once this charade is exposed, it is hard to for the consumer to have confidence in the rating system.  If not exposed, the consumer risks getting less than 5 Star service.  That risk is not healthy for a homebuyer’s wallet.

You should be able to have confidence in what you are being told or what is on business cards.  What does “Top Producer” or “Milwaukee’s Top Real Estate Agent” or “Best of” really mean if words don’t have value?  It’s why I encourage potential clients and clients to ask questions and then – question the answer.  To get to truth I think the consumer has to challenge statements and not be swayed by traditional salesperson “how ya doin? good to see ya” talk.

We suggest potential clients talk to one of our past 1,500 home buying clients.   They will tell you whether we are 1 or 5-Star and those words will have value.

This New York Times link below addresses how products are rated which calls into question the value of the words in the ratings.  Products and services deserve honest ratings and in the absence of that – buyer beware.


Recently I met with two potential clients (who became clients) and in each instance one of their first comments to me was, “We really liked the agent we were working with but we didn’t think he was listening to us or really helping us.” I replied, “Well that’s good because you may not like me that much, but I’ll listen to you, gather information for you and do a good job for you.” (Of course, like Sally Fields on Oscar night, I hope clients like us).


Recently I had to tell a client (because the data told me) that the $500,000 condominium they wanted to buy was only worth $425,000.  They did not buy that condo.  Someone else did buy the condo for $475,000. My clients bought a different condominium at value.

In another, case Seamus told a client 6 months ago that a home with an asking price of $179,000 was only worth $122,000 – $125,000.  Our client just had the offer accepted at $125,000.  It took six months for the seller to understand value.

I’ve always been intrigued by how easy it is to be liked and how difficult it can be to be honest.  Most people want to be liked.  I am not that concerned with being liked but I do want to be respected.  That means at times you may not like what we have to say about a home or the price of a home (because you really want to buy the home) – but we’ll be honest with you.

Honesty can breed some contempt because people don’t want to hear the truth (sometimes they really just want to buy the condo) or to be honest with themselves (well this house is an exception so the data must be wrong).

As David Brooks notes in his latest book, The Social Animal, “When it comes time to make a decision, our thoughts are dominated by thoughts of how we want to behave; thoughts of how we should behave disappear.”  I think it is important to live the way of the “should.”   This holds true for the truthfulness of 5-Star awards.

Newsletter sign-up

Homebuyer Associates
1835 N. Riverwalk Way
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414-254-4129