Buyer’s representation agreement
This post is inspired by a day spent reading consumer’s posts/questions on Trulia and Zillow, and fielding phone calls from buyers. REALTORS as a group are told to get out there and “sign up” our buyers for representation. Many buyers are hesitant to chain themselves to us, especially on the first meeting! But we’re trained to get that signature, so we can lay claim to that buyer.
I think this is like asking someone to marry you on the first date–and a blind date at that! Why don’t they want to sign? Because many have been BURNED! And if they haven’t had a bad experience with a bad agent, they know plenty of people who have.
Trulia and Zillow are FILLED with posts from upset/angry/disillusioned buyers and sellers. Wake up people: they don’t trust us! Spend an hour reading through the Q&A sections and you’ll believe.
What I have witnessed in online forums
1. Buyer’s agency is a joke…. a “sham” to quote one writer. They listed a diatriabe of issues they’ve had with not one but several “buyer’s agents” who were supposed to work on THEIR behalf and didn’t. (Keep in mind there’s always 2 sides of a story… but if this guy’s long travails of agent who have “done him wrong” are only 10% accurate, then agents in his area STINK). He details how one agent refused to write up an offer that was $5000 less than list because it wasn’t worth her time. She wanted him to write full price. Another agent constantly said she’d check into his questions and never returned with answers. Stories fill the internet about how their “buyer’s agent” screwed them out of a house, or talked them into paying more than they should have. We love BA (we get a check) but the public doesn’t think it’s “real” yet. And after reading these stories, I feel bad for these guys who got burned by bad agents.
2. There’s enough info out on the net to do this yourself… neither buyers/sellers need us. They can read our blogs and information online and figure out how to do everything themselves and save the commission. This is a common thread. We can puff out our chests all we want and rattle off everything we do that the public doesn’t see… but that perception is out there and it’s pretty prevalent. One writer said he cribbed off of one agent’s blog her step-by-step how to buy a house, and did it himself (Food for thought–if we put it ALL out there, to benefit the public, are we giving away the milk for free???). MOOOO.
3. We are not to be trusted. We lie. We don’t return phone calls. We sneak in other offers so buyers “lose out” on a house they thought they had. We are prostitutes–out for sale to the highest bidder (cannot remember where I read that today, but I laughed and moved on to the next post). The truth is we constantly compare ourselves to doctors and lawyers in our blogs (as in, other “professionals”) and claim the public would never ask their surgeon to “cut” a commission or their lawyer for discount advice. I have news for you: we are NOT doctors and lawyers. Some of us have had 30 or 60 HOURS of classes and we call ourselves professionals. Some have taken an online class and never even sat in a classroom (no disrespect meant, I’m on a roll here). So how dare we look a seller in the eye and compare us to his heart surgeon???? They trust their heart surgeon. They trust (they may not like but they trust!) their lawyer. They don’t trust us (as a group, not individually).
4. We are overpaid tour guides. Yes I know… I’m one of you so don’t stone me. But the public sees us making thousands and tens of thousands at the closing table. They don’t see the hours behind the scenes or the smoothing over we do or the research, to make sure the deal moves along. They don’t see all the buyers we work with who never buy anything (at least from US), or who waste our precious time and steal hours from our family. You know it’s out there. I have explained the “split” to more than one person who had their eyes opened that no, I don’t keep that whole check. And I have expenses. And I have to go weeks or months without a check. They don’t care.
Why consumers don’t (and shouldn’t) care
That’s the bottom line. Read these forums and you’ll see the common thread is the public doesn’t care if we eat or have a roof over our heads. They care about themselves: getting the house, or selling the house. They may like their agent, but given the choice between being loyal to you and getting a house they really really want (this is an emotional buy for most, not a brain decision), you’re dumped in the dirt. Right?
I once had a friend (of 20 years!) put an offer on a house because she saw the listing agent enter the house, and she wanted it. Later when I called to tell her it was for sale she didn’t apologize, she said she already bought it. WHAT? She was one of my closest friends. Yes, she said. Her husband told her to call me, but — and I quote– he told me to wait to call you, but I really didn’t care, I just wanted the house. And that’s a friend. If a friend doesn’t care if I make money or not, the rest of the public really really could care less.
How we can fix this continued problem:
We need to clean our house before our entire profession is in the toilet. We need to stop making excuses for our subpar comrades. We need to stop brushing their misdeads and poor behavior/unprofessionalism under the rug. Last year, I encountered two serious situations with bad agents, and I tried time and again to get the agents to fix the problem. In one case, their manager even ignored it. Then I went straight to their brokers to fix the problem. Both agents are still practicing, and probably hate me. But the brokers made it right, and hopefully got a taste of just how unethical their agents were.
Agents and brokers, we cannot hide our heads in the sand and pretend unethical things do not happen. If the broker doesn’t do something, go to your Board or Ethics committee. We must change these things. We must try to make our profession better, even if that means less (but better) agents.