Christmas is all about family. And as the family was in attendance, I took the opportunity to sit  down and talk with Mr Six-year-old. And what better to talk to him about than ghosts. It seemed reasonable that he would be as knowledgeable as anyone. After all, he has an inexhaustible repository of information on a wide variety of subjects. It all  comes from the seemingly never ending number of  videos he watches on YouTube. And as I wanted to know all about ghosts,  it was either ask him or Google.

We had been out for a bicycle ride earlier when a large dog bounded across the trail in front of us. Our speedily moving (for a six year old that is) bicycles could easily have been taken out by the bounding dog. We weren’t, but I was  reminded of the time when a friend was knocked over on her speeding bike – by a kangaroo. I told Mr Six-year-old of this , and his response was “was it a boy or a girl?” When I ascertained it was the gender of the kangaroo he was interested in, I asked him how you could tell. I am certain my friend would not recollect whether her bouncing  attacker  was male or female.

It seems that, according to YouTube, a boy kangaroo is red, and girl kangaroo is blue. I knew from that I was on to a reliable source of information about ghosts.

Sure enough, I would not be disappointed. According to the extensive research Mr Six-year-old had conducted on YouTube, you can’t see them, and you can’t touch them. Sometimes you can hear them. But if you point a machine that looks like a vacuum cleaner at them, then they will show up as white. Or perhaps grey. But then they fade away.

I felt that was a pretty good start on my research journey into ghosts.

I recently read  of the problem with ghosts (or more specifically the verb, ghosting, rather than the noun, ghost) in the recruitment industry. It seems that ghosting has become much more prevalent of late. Recruiters go through the process of scanning cv’s  (although I am told that this is now done electronically with algorithms, with the computer looking for certain keywords ) and short listing and interviewing. Then there is psychological testing and more interviews. Finally the job is offered, the salary agreed upon and the start date set. The start date arrives. But, just as Mr six-year-old described, you can’t see them, and you can’t hear them. Because the appointed candidate has “ghosted”.

Now the more cynical amongst us might contend that candidates ghosting is just desserts for all the times that recruiters and employers don’t have the manners to even respond to applications. But bad manners and lack of etiquette aside, as we know, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Our Google  research also tells us that ghosting is prevalent in the on-line dating  community. I am speculating that the scenario is similar: applications, interviews (perhaps minus the psychological testing), then the date is made. And, then, just as Mr Six-year-old says, you don’t see them.

But for those of us in the real estate community, where we are only paid on results, the phenomena of ghosting is a serious waste of time, energy and probably most importantly, opportunity cost.

We know well how it works. A party responds to the marketing. They sound genuine. Their case sounds genuine – their lease is coming to an end, they need larger or smaller premises, or they need to be closer to their workforce or customers. They are qualified. Yes, we are talking to the decision maker. Yes, they can finance the move, and No, they have not just been declared bankrupt. The options are canvassed, the short list is made. They view two or three properties. Number one on the list is exactly what they need. Yes, we’ll get back to you.

It's then that Mr Six-year-old’s description comes into play. You can’t see them. You can’t touch them. Plus, their phone goes straight to answerphone, with messages never responded to. And as we don’t have one of those machines from YouTube that look like a vacuum cleaner that we can point in the right direction, we can’t even see what shade of sheet they might be wearing.

We are left wondering. Have they found another property with another agent?  Has their current landlord made them an offer they can’t refuse to get them to re-sign? Were they just looking for free market information to use in a negotiation?

All questions without answers, as there is no response to our emails and messages. No boxes to tick in that lot.

Which means we can only speculate and wonder why ? Did we fail to adequately qualify ? Or is it just that in this age of social media, we should know that failing to reply means “I’m not interested in you or your property, so leave me alone”.

We’ll just have to rely on the golden rule, and to paraphrase – what goes round comes round.