MacRo LTD Blog

The Origins of Real Estate Insanity

Was it really Albert Einstein who coined the phrase: “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results” … Or was it a commercial real estate broker?

The Origins of Real Estate InsanityMany may think that someone truly has to be a bit insane to remain in the Land & Commercial Real Estate brokerage business year after year for over four decades.  Crazy or not, I have enjoyed the work I do and am proud that I have mentored so many into the insanity of this career track.

But looking from the inside out, we commercial real estate brokers often wonder the same about some of the folks we meet along the way … who seem to have a tried and true (unsuccessful) marketing strategy all figured out to sell or lease their property.

The only problem is that they can’t find the right broker to carry out that plan; so they list with one broker under required terms (price, condition, terms, etc.) for a while, then after no success they move on to another and another and so on … often for years … and many times for decades.

Could it really be that there are that many inept land & commercial real estate licensees out there, or could it be the property owner? …. maybe a combination of both!

Without a doubt when a Google search is run on that famously trite phrase “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results,” it seems that Einstein wins big time, if you count the one who gets the most hits. But there are a number who have attributed it one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin … another wise choice.  Then again, legendary writer and satirist Mark Twain also earns ranking.  Who would ever question that such a quote is attributed to the man who said “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”

After doing a bit more digging, I came across a blog entitled Throw Grammar from a Train, Notes from a recovering nitpicker, by Jan Freeman.  Ms. Freeman is an author and writer for the Boston Globe and is nationally known for her wisdom and research on the use of the English language.

In her October 2010 post entitled “The definition of insanity,” Freeman finds the origin not to be with any of the famous above noted trio. But not that far back in time, she found that the quote is used in a 1983 book by Rita Mae Brown, and then earlier in 1979 ~ 1981 it is found as a phrase in the second step of a Narcotics Anonymouswork book.  The NA program, as it is called, has roots that originated with “AA” — Alcoholics Anonymous that was co-founded in the 1930′s by Bill Wilson (1895~1971).  So it could be that it was Wilson who first coined the phrase.

Then again Freeman cautions that many widely used and/or trite phrases rarely originate from famous people.  Therefore maybe, just maybe, the quote first popped upon the scene from a regular ol’ crazy person, who began his (surely not “her”) journey to recovery after realizing that he was doing something wrong by attempting to sell his commercial investment property unsuccessfully off and on for a decade or so by listing it with ten different commercial brokers over that period.

But why stop with property owners!  It just as easily sprouted from a commercial real estate brokers, who after years of banging his head against the wall, repeating the same mistakes, woke up and realized that there is a better way to success.

Over the years, I have experienced real estate insanity from all different angles.  Yes, I have banged my head against many a wall, but I have also come to recognize that many seasoned would-be clients, who often throw the blame on their last broker, are equally to blame.

All too often as has been written among the posts of the MacRo Report Blog, when we agree to engage a frustrated property owner who has followed such a path, it is important that our new client bring an open mind to the table.

There is no question that a seasoned land & commercial real estate broker needs to first listen carefully to understand the experiences and goals of those they commit to.  After considering all that information and thorough market research, by using the expertise of a proven professional, there should be no reason to not to expect different results!


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The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital, as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012 and the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Frederick County … to name a few.  

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