As an aging member of Genration X trying to figure out where he left his car keys, I was unable to put together a really cool video as counterpoint. But in the interest of an even battle, I’m writing this post on my computer as I drive down I-17. And you – yes, you in the blue Pontiac Sunbird – please get out of the left lane if you’re only going to drive 52 MPH. Wait … I’m not in the left lane anymore???
Looking At This The Wrong Way
Yesterday’s lockbox debate left me flummoxed. At its heart, it’s the perfect example of real estate being local. For those working in very tight, very small markets – say Connecticut – it probably makes sense to set appointments with the listing agent. But for those of us in a place like Maricopa County – larger than Connecticut and several other states – it’s a bit more problematic.
But really, that’s neither here not there. Because the question as I see it is the customer service that we’re providing to our seller (even if they’re really a client and not a customer, but client service sounds like I ought to be arranging a visit from some nieces.)
Start to Finish Service
So what else can I do to provide outstanding customer service start to finish? Well, if I’m already present while the buyers are going through the house and am answering any questions, reading their body language and listening to their perception of the home’s value, I also probably ought to write the purchase contract. I’m a certified instructor with the state, the other agent probably isn’t, and it would be poor service if I presented a vague, incomplete or otherwise wonky contract to the sellers.
Sure, there are agency issues but we’ll get to those.
Thinking about it further, we probably ought to write the contract in the sellers’ living room and present it at a town hall meeting at the kitchen table. If the buyers have any questions the sellers can answer them then and there, but we should be able to get everything hashed out in a few minutes time.
When the time comes for inspections, since there’s no lockbox, I’ll need to be present again. Which is fine, because then I’ll be versant in whatever issues the inspector might uncover. And since I’m already there and the buyers already are there, I may as well write up the inspection report just to make sure everything is in the right place (scary to think how many agents don’t know the difference between a warranted item and a negotiatble repair.)
Can’t do this at the kitchen table but as part of my service I’d make sure it was done in a timely fashion for all parties involved.
As a good listing agent I’ll already have spoken to the buyers’ lender when I received the LSR to make sure the loan was legit. If one call’s good, then a dozen calls are even better. So I suppose I’ll continue checking with the lender to make sure the loan’s on track.
And then there are the calls to escrow I’m already making to ensure everything’s moving forward. I’d never attend the buyers’ side of the closing when I represent the seller, but maybe I should just in case there are other questions to answer.
Which All Leads To …
… the ultimate question, which is this: why is the supposed buyers’ agent receiving a dime in this deal? Because of the incredible customer service I’ve rendered for my seller (which later transferred to the buyer), the buyers’ agent in this scenario would have done absolutely zero. Which would make them the laziest REALTOR in the world, by my reckoning.
Once you’ve abrogated your first basic responsibility – to show the home to your buyers – where do you stop surrendering the basics of what you’re supposed to do. Put another way, if your knowledge level is such that you need me there to point out the sconces and upgraded cabinets, you’re probably better off leaving the transaction to me anyway.
This suddenly has become a dual agency situation, which will cause some to head for the pitchforks and the torches, but let’s face it … the buyers’ agent wasn’t representing the seller in this case anyway.
Understanding the Sellers’ Perspective
And, for the record, I do understand the perspective given in the comments about a seller wanting to make sure their agent does everything possible to sell their house. I’ve heard the same.
What I tell my sellers is it’s my job to market the home and get it sold. How I do it shouldn’t matter quite as much as that it gets done. The most elaborate, expensive marketing in the world is useless if the home doesn’t actually sell.
I’m not pushing samples at Costco and trying to get someone to buy a box as they move on looking for the 12-pack of paper towels. I’m selling a (generally) six-figure property that more often than not is sold because of an emotional connection between buyer and home. The features that mean most to you may mean nothing to a buyer, so pointing them out ad nauseum will hurt the cause, not help.
Keep in mind, this only applies to situations where the buyers already have an agent. Clearly, if someone without an agent wants to see the property, I’ll be there.
After all, the buyers couldn’t work the lockbox without an electronic key even if they tried.