Friday, September 08, 2006

A good Realtor makes it easy

Great column below that made me laugh.
Avoid the paralysis of do-it-yourself real estate transactions by using a trusted Realtor. Read below and make the connection.

Buyer paralyzed by `feature fatigue'

By Jim SollischPublished September 8, 2006

I'm suffering from a condition that hasn't gotten a lot of press but may be at the tipping point of becoming an epidemic. The first symptom is fatigue. A deep weariness that's made it difficult for me to do even simple tasks like swipe my credit card. Eventually the fatigue gives way to paralysis. I've actually lost all feeling in my wallet.

I became aware of this while shopping for a cell phone. There were so many choices, I couldn't decide. So I kept the one I've had for the last six years. It may actually be a rotary phone. It's counterintuitive, but marketing researchers have discovered what I (and many simple-minded people) have known for years: Too many choices can suppress sales. In the book "Blink," Malcolm Gladwell describes a very simple study in which shoppers at a grocery store were offered the chance to buy one of six specialty jams. Thirty percent bought a jar. When the choices were increased to 24 varieties of jam, only 3 percent bought.

Yet, it seems the mission of every company in America is to give me total freedom of choice. They talk about choice in the same tone the Founders used for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And I do want the freedom to make choices. Like who to vote for. Where to live. What college to send my children to. But not which of 27 wireless plans to choose from. Or which of 74 digital cameras to buy.

I really want a digital camera. In fact, I tried to buy one twice. The first time the sheer number of choices freaked me out and I ran out of the store. The next time I brought my brother for support and actually made it to the point where I held a few cameras in my hand. But then the number of features made me light-headed. Just before I passed out, I heard my brother tell the clerk that I had been living with the Amish for 20 years.

But the sad truth is, I've spent the last 20 years working in the capital of consumer America as a creative director of an advertising agency. I've actually designed campaigns to sell lottery tickets, tires and, believe it or not, wireless plans. So if I'm confused and dazed, I can't be alone. And research is showing that I'm not. Professor Roland Rust of the University of Maryland has even coined a term for it--feature fatigue. And it's the result of companies making toothbrushes so complicated and loaded with features that they come with a DVD to explain how to use them. Feature fatigue is the inevitable consequence of feature creep, the tendency for designers and programmers to bundle every feature they can imagine into every single product. I don't know if the axiom about using only 10 percent of our brains is true or not, but I'm pretty sure that's about the percentage we use of our gadgets' capabilities. A great deal has been written in the last year about feature creep.

But not so much about its cousin, my affliction, which I've coined Multiple Choice Syndrome. MCS doesn't just cause paralysis of the high-tech consumer. I can't even buy a pair of shoes since I discovered, an online shoe store that carries approximately 14 billion pairs of shoes. I know, I can shop at a real shoe store, and I do, but then I worry that I'm missing something. Even simple tasks like buying lettuce are tough for me now. My grocery store carries 21 kinds of lettuce. And then each of those falls into categories from prewashed and bagged to, hidden deep in the bowels of the store, head lettuce wrapped in plastic and filled with good old-fashioned pesticides. If only I could find it.

The moral here can be applied to a good doctor, CPA, furniture dealer... you name it. Make an educated decison, once, to trust a professional rather than kill yourself trying to be a do-it-your-selfer for everything.

Think about it... you might feel like the guy above when entering the Chicago housing market! There are sooo many information out-lets, developments, mortgage brokers, re-sale units, attorneys, contract issues... it helps to have someone make sense of it all.

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