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Consumers Say They Expect More, But Do They Really?

I ran across some buyers a while back that were telling me they weren’t happy with their buyer’s agent. They ended up firing their agent and hired me because they were “not pleased with the buyer’s agent attitude nor ability”. The odd thing is that the buyers asked me if I would be willing to give their previous agent a referral fee. 

Being that I was a bit confused by that, I asked them why. They said that they “felt bad” because the agent had put in time and effort and “wouldn’t make any money for doing so”.

When I asked them for more detail on what the agent did for them, they said, “They sent us a few emails with listings and showed us two homes.”

Think about that for a second…

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They think that sending a few emails and showing two homes warrants making a commission of (in this case) $3750.

Does that mean that they think that’s all we’re good for – emails and opening doors? By them asking my broker to pay the other agent’s broker $3750 for sending a few emails and opening two doors, the answer seems to be yes.

But consumers expect more from us, right? They sure say they do. And their actions usually back up what they say.. After all, these buyers fired their previous agent and chose someone they felt had the proper expertise and knowledge to represent them.

But in this situation (and other similar situations), the consumer is contradicting themselves. So which one is it?

Sometimes, the only answer I have is to scratch my head…

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Written By

Danilo Bogdanovic is a Real Estate Consultant/REALTOR(R) in Northern Virginia and author/owner of and Danilo serves on various committees with the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS(R) and the Virginia Association of REALTORS(R).



  1. Kim Hannemann

    April 2, 2009 at 9:08 am

    It may be that sending a few emails and opening a couple of doors is all the agent did. Or it may be that the agent did a lot more, but that’s all they remember. If perception is reality, so be it.

    But personally, I spend a lot of time and energy working for prospective clients in preparing those emails and guiding them through showings, trying to get to know them and judging what to look for on their behalf.

    If I couldn’t make enough of an impression for them to hang onto me, I wouldn’t think I deserve a referral – but I would probably have earned one.

  2. Jim Duncan

    April 2, 2009 at 9:45 am


    I think this example demonstrates:

    1) a complete lack of understanding of what we do
    2) a complete lack of understanding of where the money comes from
    3) that we don’t work for free.

    We’re not in it for charity, it’s a business, darn it.

    Kudos to them for understanding that they needed a real professional to represent them.

    PS – I’ve had very similar experiences.

  3. John Kalinowski

    April 2, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Did you pay the referral fee?

  4. Danilo Bogdanovic

    April 2, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Kim, I agree that, sometimes, there’s more to it than just a few emails. But more often than not, there’s isn’t. It takes me only 5 minutes to add a contact into my system and set them up on automated emails that alert them and I about properties that fit their criteria.

    Many agents spend the 5 minutes and then wait for the email or call saying, “I really liked that one property in the email you just sent me. When can we see it?”

    Good points Jim. Still working on how we as an industry can get the word out about what we REALLY do for our clients.

    Btw, your comment reminded of a Tweet by PhxREguy – “maybe I should quit selling real estate and just start offering advice to other agents’ clients.” I think we all feel that way sometimes…

    John – No, I did not pay the referral fee.

  5. Dee

    April 3, 2009 at 4:09 am

    I think this gives us a tremendous opportunity folks! Part of our prospecting efforts should be educating the buyer of exactly what they should expect from a buyers agent. Setting up a listing alert is just one service. We should also be dripping on them via our email campaigns and set downs telling them what we will be doing for them and what we expect from them.( by that I mean their loyalty) If the buyer does not see the value and won’t sign an exclusive agreement before we put them in our cars that tells we didn’t do a good job conveying that message.

  6. Missy Caulk

    April 5, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Interesting they would ask, sounds like guilt to me.

    If they feel that bad, I would have asked them to pay or buy a gas card.

  7. Paula Henry

    April 6, 2009 at 7:25 am

    My recent experience with buyers brings to light, they have no idea what we do or how we are paid. It is up to us to have the conversation with them , then exceed their expectations.

    I have encountered agents who only open doors and their clients have no idea about the process. Do they deserve a commission? We do not get paid for showing homes or sending emails, but for negotiating and closing transactions.

  8. teresa boardman

    April 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I have a client that worked with another agent. She said the agent didn’t understand St. Paul. I have that one nailed for sure.

    The truth is that with most of these types of buyers I find that they are on the difficult end of the spectrum. often not good at articulating what they want. I have shown this woman a ton of houses and she has not yet bought one. I have a vision of her going to yet another agent and saying the last one couldn’t find me a house.

    Yes there are bad agents out there but there are also bad clients. I approach all clients who recently worked with another agent with extreme caution. Often it is just a matter of the personalities not meshing. Like in the example above. I have had clients who only wanted door opening and offer writing and other who wanted the sun, the moon and the stars.

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