Susan Arledge: Manti Te’o, and Masquerades in Commercial RE

Susan Arledge

Just in case you are keeping score, it appears that both Jodie Foster and Manti Te’o are now single. So, you have to ask yourself: Really? Who in the world makes up a dead girlfriend, other than George Costanza?

The Dallas Stars showed an empty seat this weekend on their Jumbotron and used the caption “Manti Te’o’s girlfriend.”

Jimmy Fallon noted: “Manti Te’o’s online girlfriend was a fabrication. When they heard that, nerds everywhere were like, ‘Man … even imaginary girls only like jocks’.

But, I feel sad for Te’o and sad for college football. If he was really so naïve to believe he was having an online relationship with a woman, it’s sad to think he put his heart, faith, and trust into something that wasn’t real.

If he did perpetrate the hoax thinking it would help him get national exposure and assist in the Heisman Trophy race, then it’s sad to think that a superstar football player at a major college would ever think he needed to do this to gain respect from peers.

Now, as a longtime Texas fan, perhaps the greatest hoax of all was Notre Dame’s No. 1 ranking. But I digress …

Savvy, persuasive people with an uncanny ability to gain people’s trust are not unusual in any industry, including commercial real estate. Impressive bios can be created and, with the ability to access data online, it is not difficult to create insightful presentations, with topnotch graphics portraying sophisticated thoughts about the commercial real estate process.

Many inexperienced salespeople are quite skillful at presenting data in such a way that they appear to be true experts. Lots of data packaged properly can make anyone look knowledgeable and provide a perception that they have hands-on experience in these market areas, when actually they may have never done a transaction of this type before. Even experienced buyers and customers have a hard time distinguishing the inexperienced from the true professional.

Certainly, taking our clients where they need to be in an honest and objective manner based on providing detailed and weighted criteria must be the end game. But this data must also be supported by experienced consultants with actual hands-on knowledge of the market areas they are presenting, not consultants who are just reciting facts from pages and pages of gathered data. Brokers must be able to offer a perspective about all of the possible real estate options that might come into play and this perspective typically only comes from years and years of providing these services to clients.

So, as we are all receiving and laughing at the jokes and cartoons circulating about Te’o, it is important that we remember what Seth Meyers said: “These Te’o jokes are all very funny, but let’s all try to remember that a person who never existed is dead.”