Buying a house in Portland, Oregon, is a nightmare. Whatever crazy, outrageous stories you’ve heard, they’re true. Whatever unbelievable statistics you’ve read, they’re also true. Get ready to hear mine.

There’s less than four weeks of inventory on the market; there’s normally six MONTHS available.

Sellers are greedy and inflexible. Buyers (myself included) are desperate and foolish. But, it’s the inefficiency of service providers that makes the situation truly maddening. Lean has never been needed more than now.

“Look, I’ve got hoops to jump through here.”

This was the actual response from the office manager at a remediation company when I complained about not receiving a promised, and desperately-needed, estimate to remediate mold we’d discovered in a house. Our inspection deadline was imminent and we needed time to revise our offer and negotiate with the seller.

This response was MUCH worse than the “Dude, we suck.” response I received once; at least that employee empathized with my situation. This one seemed to think she was the one suffering from the company’s wasteful practices.

And, in truth, she was also suffering. She had to deal with people like me breathing down her neck and complaining to get what they needed. As you can tell, it’s been a real challenge demonstrating the Lean value ‘Respect for People’ these days.

What hoops does your company make customers and employees jump through? How much empathy do you have for them?

“We pride ourselves on providing accurate estimates.”

This was the reason she gave for the all the hoops they were jumping through. She seemed to think knowing this would make me feel better. But, I didn’t need an accurate estimate. I needed a conservative ballpark figure to bring to the negotiating table.

Remember, the only value that matters is one that the customer will pay for. Are you creating value that your customers couldn’t care less about and driving them mad in the process?

The Lean Waste ‘Delay’ is a Deal Killer

How fast is the Portland market moving? Hours count.

We had an offer accepted (5% above asking price), but in the three hours between the seller and us electronically signing all the sales agreement paperwork, they received and accepted an ALL CASH OFFER 13% above asking price. Those hours cost us a great house; it still stings to bring it up.

And just this week, we lost another one. We were under contract and at the very end of the 10-day inspection period (it takes that long to get them all scheduled and done), another buyer came in with a better offer, so the seller wouldn’t grant any concessions to remediate the mold. If we had gotten those inspections and estimates earlier, we’d likely have come to an agreement and be packing right now.

Hey, you entrepreneurs out there, there’s a market for a Lean-oriented, all-inclusive, super-fast buyer home services company in Portland. A team should descend on a house 24 hours after a sales agreement is signed and do a complete physical and financial workup on the house in one day. I’ll be your first customer.

Thanks for listening; I feel much better.

Let’s Ride!

Todd Hudson, Head Maverick