Fostering the foundation of a working relationship
Trust is the foundation of any working relationship. As an agent, do you trust your clients? As a client, do you trust your agent? A home purchase, as we all know, is usually the highest dollar value purchase a consumer will ever make. So let’s take a look at two easy ways home buyers and real estate agents can build trust into their relationship.
If you’re a real estate agent, it starts with a really simple step: identify who you are and who you represent. Here in San Francisco, where open homes are popular and lockboxes are rare, most home shoppers view homes at weekend open houses. If you are an agent hosting an open house, be clear about who you represent. If you are the listing agent with extensive knowledge about the property and a fiduciary duty to the seller, be clear about that. If you are holding the open house for a colleague and aren’t the listing agent, be clear about that. If dual agency (representing both the buyer and seller in the same deal) is allowed in your state, explain what that means and how it impacts your obligations.
Going above and beyond to help consumers understand agency
Agency seems like a dry, boring, legalistic topic. And it can be. Agents deal with it day in and day out, so we often forget to make sure that home buyers and sellers understand it as well as we do. As an agent, your job comes with legal responsibilities and standards that vary based upon who you represent. Make sure that everyone understands that from the beginning, and you’ve taken a simple step to keep expectations realistic and demonstrate your real estate expertise.
If you’re a home shopper in an area that shares listings through a Multiple Listing Service (most of America; New York City stands out as one exception), don’t use multiple agents in the same geography. Nothing will give a real estate agent pause like hearing from their client that they are planning on seeing a property with another agent. Even worse than hearing from a client that they’ve got multiple agents? Hearing it from a fellow agent after those clients visit their listing!
Cutting down on misunderstandings
Working with multiple agents in the same geographic area doesn’t gain buyers anything in terms of market knowledge or exposure, and it sends a strong signal that buyers don’t trust their agent to find a home and represent their interests. While buyers might think they’re using a little competition to motivate their agents, what they’ve really done is send a message to all of them that they might or might not do a deal with them. Given that the vast majority of agents don’t work on salary, how motivated do you think an agent will be to invest time and energy in hunting down the perfect house for someone who may very well write an offer with another agent?
Rare is the buyer or seller who doesn’t have some preconceived notions about how real estate “really” works, with agents and buyers each circulating their own horror stories about awful clients or awful agents. Being clear with each other about what we expect is an easy way to cut down on misunderstandings, and — I hope — eliminate a few horror stories from ever being written.