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Showing Agent Feedback: Faux Pas or KumBaYa?



Is it broken?I’ll Get Right To The Prickly-Point

It’s a tradition from the bygone era of sub-agency.*

It’s a time suck.

It’s a feel busy – creative avoidance activity.

Most importantly, sharing constructive feedback with our competitors is harmful to our sellers, team members and the industry.

No, I’m not. Yes, I’m sober.  This is my humble opinion.  Here’s the planet I’m coming from

Showing Agent Feedback Consequences and Repercussions

I lifted the following analogy from last weeks blog post about Broker Open House and Sold Souls.

Would the whiz kids at Apple, gift wrap their shiny new 3GS iPhone and deliver it to the Rainmen at Microsoft, with a note that read:

“Dear Rainmen, Please find enclosed a gift certificate for half-a-sandwich and our soon to be released, white 3GS iPhone. We’d love it if you would give it a test run and tell us what you think. How should we price it? Is it easy to use? How about the design, do you have any advice? We’d love to hear from you. We’re going to use your feedback to gain market share and well, let’s be honest, we’re going to swing your foolish-feedback like a Steel-Stupid-Stick and beat the living crap outta your feedback sharing, short-bus self. Thanks.”

Seriously! That would never happen in business, a competitor asking another competitor for advice and feedback. Nor would any sane business respond with feedback if asked. Right?

May I ask a question?

What would happen if every listing agent sat down with their seller(s) and had a conversation that began like?

Agent: Listen.  I know you’re paying me thousands of dollars to sell your home for the highest possible price in a timely manner.  I know that you know we’re in competition with other sellers and new home builders.  Qualified buyers are going to look at those competing properties and yours…then they’ll make a decision…yours or theirs.

Here’s the deal.  When anyone from my brokerage shows properties that compete with yours, we are going to provide constructive feedback that will help competing sellers, sellers we don’t represent, we are going to help your competition better price their properties, plus we’ll share other bright ideas for staging, merchandising and positioning. If this sounds like we’re gonna help your competition sell before you do, it’s because that’s exactly what we’re doing. You don’t mind do you?

Here’s how I think the rest of the convo might go:

Seller: Let me get this straight!  I’m paying you to sell my house and you’re coaching my competition on how to out sell and out position me?

Agent: Yes.  We’ve been doing it for years. It’s not so good for you…but it helps us build relationships in the real estate community.  You’re OK with that, right?

Seller: No.  It sucks. You’re fired.

Providing “showing feedback” that helps a competing listing agent and their seller competitively reposition their property is harmful.

It’s the same reason we don’t reveal what our buyers will pay, what our sellers will accept or the pending price. We are hired to represent the best interests of our clients – not our/their competitors.

KumBaYa Counter Point

Our business is a blend of competition and collaboration.  Being helpful feels good, friendly and right. No question, positive relationships within the agent community are beneficial to everyone.  Amen.

We can do both.  We can protect the best interests of our clients and grow our relationships at the same time. Acting professionally and courteously, socially and in business will get the job done and we won’t be sacrificing the interest of our clients to do it.

One Form Of Feedback Is Good

Providing constructive positioning feedback to listing agents within your brokerage and office is positive.

The seller hired the brokerage.  You are part of the brokerage.  Your help is appreciated and appropriate.

What Say You

When I share this rabble-rouser perspective, people usually react with Ah-Ha.  Ut-Oh.  WTH.  What ev! You’re an idiot.  You don’t get it. Or?????

What do you think?  How would the conversation go with your seller?

Let me hear from you.  Go ahead, I can take it.  I think:-)

Thanks for reading.


PS.  I feel like I’ve been a bit preachy in my last two posts.  Next week I’ll lighten up – sorta.  Next week’s post will babble around the topic of Avoiding Creative Avoidance.  I appreciate your patience.

* We were asking for feedback in 1978.  It was the era of sub-agency, no disclosures, no inspections, no cell phones, no fax, no email, no copy machines and no internet.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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  1. Joespake

    June 22, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Ken, I agree, and thought both your posts on the subject were thought provoking. It’s hard to get listing clients in the mindset that the folks who are providing the feedback that they demand, before the showing agent’s car is out of the driveway, are the competition. There is no reason for feedback responses to be in the best interests of the seller; and if the buyers had any interest in the property, it would be be in their best interest if their agent said the house sucked and was priced 25% too high.

  2. Karen Rice

    June 22, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I have mixed feelings. I don’t mind filling in feedback forms – and my sellers like getting agent feedback when the house is shown. I don’t go all out and say stuff like “Rearrange the furniture to make the traffic flow better; landscape the lawn,” etc. I may say stuff like “Customer felt home was cramped and too small. Needs too much maintenance. Musty smell is a turn off.” or “Customer liked the home very much and is still considering options.”

    This isn’t the same thing as competing iPods – there are different customers for every house. I guess I could see your point if you are selling tract homes in a neighborhood where all the other houses TRULY ARE competing with your sellers…

    Recently an agent hounded me for feedback and I was annoyed with her cause she never returns feedback requests herself. This was for a recreational camping cabin. So the feedback I gave would not impress the seller: “Customer did not like property as it was not as advertised on the MLS. Customer expected features that in fact, were not there.”

  3. LesleyLambert

    June 22, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I could care less about feedback. If they make an offer they liked it…no offer, they didn’t like it. However, my sellers will hunt me down about feedback so it isn’t very likely that the practice will fall off anytime soon.

  4. Tara Jacobsen

    June 22, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I would NOT say what you said…:)

    What I would say is that since there are over 20,000 homes on the market in our area, relationships matter more than ever. BECAUSE I give feedback to other listing agents, have brokers open houses, teach classes, attend pitch session and more, I have great relationships with other agents in our area, not only with my brokerage. SO when they have a list of 12 homes to show and are getting down to final cuts, they pick mine to show because they can be relatively assured of a smooth and helpful transaction!

  5. Matt Thomson

    June 22, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I don’t understand the all or nothing approach to this topic. Can’t I give positive feedback, something that the listing agent can take to their sellers to appease them, without compromising my role to my clients? How about something like, “It wasn’t quite what we were looking for…the yard was too small or there were too many steps.” The seller is happy because their agent followed up on the showing, but there’s no info given that can help them better position their home so nobody is compromised.

    RE: Joespake…”and if the buyers had any interest in the property, it would be be in their best interest if their agent said the house sucked and was priced 25% too high.”
    Seriously? Then what, you submit an offer? If an agent tells me my house sucks and I’m not even in the ballpark with price, then hands me an offer, what does that tell me? Either that agent is lying and trying to play games or that agent doesn’t have a pulse on what the market is or that agent doesn’t have a clue what their clients are looking for. Regardless, it lets me know that working with this agent is going to be a challenge and we’ve started the transaction on a rocky footing.

    Why is “playing real estate” so much more important than being upfront? It’s really not that hard to take both sides in this topic. We can be cooperative without compromising. A little honesty and forthrightness can go a long ways in not only making our transactions run more smoothly, but in cleaning up the negative reputation of our industry.

  6. Dean Ouellette

    June 22, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I must admit, I have never thought about it from this point of view, I always just thought it was the right thing to do. Now you at least have me thinking about it.

  7. Ken Brand

    June 22, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Yes. It’s a prickly topic for sure. And points of view range all over. In our market, the busiest agents don’t ask and don’t share feedback. Not because they believe as I do, but because they are too busy. Their business does not suffer.

    Buyer Agents working in best interest of their buyer clients aren’t gong to black ball an agent or boycott an agents listing because the listing agent didn’t provide feedback.

    Joe – I agree, most the feedback shared isn’t worth much anyway.

    Karen – Agreed. The iPod deal is a bit different than an inventory of homes….biz is biz though. While all the homes shown aren’t exactly right, in my experience their might be 2 or three that are on the short list. If one of them has been jazzed up because of constructive feedback, then it would make a difference in that case. Thanks for sharing your thought. I know seller’s what feedback, I’d be interested to know how sellers would respond to the question I’ve posed in the post. I believe most wouldn’t have thought it through. Thanks again.

    Matt – My bad. I think my post reads like and all or nothing approach, it shouldn’t. More specifically, I was trying to differentiate by using the words “constructive feedback”, meaning feedback that helped reposition.

    I think feedback like, showed great, couldn’t get it, or my people liked it, I’ll let you know, or It wasn’t right, but I’ll keep in mind for the future….etc. is great.

    As far as playing “real estate”, my main point – if most sellers know that their agent is helping their competitor reposition more competitively, they won’t appreciate it. And I believe most listing agents are smart enough to know what they need to do to get the property sold…they don’t need my help.

    Thanks – all

  8. Jeff Bulman

    June 22, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I agree with you 100% and appreciate the courage it takes to talk about it. I said basically the same thing in a room full of agents and I got some nasty remarks. My job is not to help you sell your listing, educate your client or provide you anything. My job is to find the right property for my client, that’s it. Any agent worth there salt should be able to quickly figure out why a listing has not sold.

  9. Russell Shaw

    June 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    True, it is a carry over from sub-agency but I don’t believe that makes it bad. I totally agree that there is a pointlessness to feedback – if they wanted the house you would know it because they would be writing an offer and would be “giving you feedback” that way.

    The main reason we ask for feedback on every showing on every occupied listing (I have one person on the payroll who does this for us all day M – F) is SELLERS LIKE IT. That’s it. Sellers like it. Just like printing a nice flyer for them and that is who the flyers are really for – the sellers – it makes the seller happy. Calling them to “talk about the showing” is important to most sellers. Do I really believe it allows the house to sell faster? In the sense that we are documenting the number of people who saw the house and didn’t buy it and discussing those people with the seller as we give them the feedback – yes. No showing means priced way too high. No offers means priced *still* too high.

    Do I personally “need” the other agent’s opinion? Not really. It is a gradient method of lowering the price so it will sell. It is factually part of our “packaging”, like the flyer we create for them, like the box an iPhone or an iPod comes in – all part of the experience.

  10. Ken Brand

    June 22, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Jeff – Courageous or stupid – depends on who you ask. Cheers and thanks.

    Russell – Thanks for you comment. I find it an interesting paradox. As you’ve shared, as a listing agent, we know sellers want feedback. Providing it improves the perceived value of our service. As a listing agent I would request it. Intellectually, I believe providing constructive feedback in most cases would not benefit my seller(s).

    Ours is a fascinating business.

  11. Louise Scoggins

    June 22, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Ken, this is a thought provoking post. I have not thought about providing feedback from that angle. I currently have 6 listings that are all in different parts of metro Atlanta, all at different price points, and I have several active buyer clients. My buyers that are looking in the same areas as my listings are not looking in the same price point. So how would me providing feedback from those showings be a detrement to my seller? Many of the houses I show and provide feedback on are not in direct competition with my own listings.

    As far as gathering feedback goes, as several mention here, I do it b/c it makes my sellers happy. They want to know what the buyer thought — though the reality is that if the buyer liked the home a lot, I would have been in communication with the buyer’s agent already about an offer coming in. I also believe that feedback can be very useful to address an issue with a seller that they may be hesitant to change (i.e. change this paint color or clean up yard etc etc).

    All in all, I believe in karma — what goes around, comes around, so I will continue to provide and continue to gather feedback.

  12. Erion Shehaj

    June 22, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I always found it amusing that a home seller will throw a fit if their agent mentions anything close to “your price is too high” but will drop the price on a dime if another (buyer’s) agent says so. A bit unclear about who works for who, right?

    But, the truth is Seller’s do look for the feedback and in that respect Russell is right.

    One aspect of the post I disagree with is the reasoning behind why one shouldn’t provide feedback. If avoiding to help the competition is to be our main aim, what are we doing blogging about strategies on AG and elsewhere?

  13. teresa boardman

    June 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I would have to find the post. Wrote it on this very blog. the other downside of giving feedback is that if I am representing the buyer comments on price and other comments may weaken their negotiating power. In general I don’t give feedback on the listings I see.

  14. Matt Stigliano

    June 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Ken – I love when you take your pointy stick out and start jabbing at the belly of real estate. I’ve heard this conversation before (perhaps via Teresa here on AG?) and I think about it a lot. Every time I sit there filling out more mind numbing feedback that I doubt gets read half the time I wonder if I’m wasting my time. I try to be very cautious as to what I say and never preface anything with “my clients think…”

    With CSS we automatically get feedback requests via email, I’d say I get about a 50% return rate. If an agent doesn’t answer, I leave it at that. If you’re chasing down an agent about feedback and reach them three days later, I really doubt they’re going to care to say much more than “it wasn’t a match for my client.” What good does that do?

    I find that it seems a bit fruitless as most of the feedback looks and reads like it has been cut and paste from “The Book Of Dull Answers.” Nothing helpful, just generic “not the one” comments. “My clients are still looking” and “my clients have only started looking” are the two most common.

    I think I’m going to send this to some friends (consumers) and see what they think.

    Keep it coming Ken, never preachy…always teachy.

  15. Matthew Rathbun

    June 25, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Giving Showing Feedback may be a violation of your fiduciary duties as well:

    There’s little to no advantage to the Buyer, who you’ve agreed to represent.

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