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Referral – Let the Interview Begin – Thursday WTF

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Every Agent Should Read This and Be Prepared

Just before new years, I received a referral from R.com – wow.  It came in the form of an email from a husband and wife who stated they had a builder selected, a location narrowed down, and a floorplan they loved- neat!  They requested that they be in contract no later than December 31, 2007 – fantastic.  They requested that I call them and schedule a meet to discuss negotiating and writing the contracts- groovy.

Based on the area (and more specifically the builder they had chosen), I opted to send the best man for the job- George.  George has a specialty in dealing with this builder and even further, he plays golf with the regional sales manager.  Even more, George plays poker with the lead sales agent of the community in which the buyers had selected.  Taking his credentials one step further, George has sold numerous build-to-suits, resale, and inventory homes in this same community, and had they asked, George has a degree in International Business as well as in Communications, is fluent in several languages, and has been in business 10 years.  It’s a slam dunk on qualifications- George obviously has an edge that these buyers will sincerely enjoy all the way to the bank.

George called and arranged a meeting to “set up the offer” and write the contracts with the buyers, made an initial contact with the builder, got a list of available inventory, prices, and did a CMA of the area to give the buyers some additional edge in options with the builder.  George arrived at said location, met the buyers, and sat down to empty the contents of the folder on the table to present the buyers with some outstanding options.

Before George could get a word out, the buyers said, “we’re not here to hire you today.”  Perplexed, George asked, “then how can I help you?”  The buyers basically told George that he was there to be interviewed along with five other agents.  George casually filed the folder back into his bag and listened- never once being asked about his qualifications.

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As the buyers talked incessantly through the meeting, leaving very little room for George to talk, he learned very quickly that this meeting was about commission, and not about any of George’s qualifications, nor about what George could do for them on pricing, nor was it about his established relationships with the folks at the builder’s office that might lead them to a hotter buy.  The buyers flat out lied about their intentions in meeting George, and they honestly did not care that they had offended a rather well connected, well seasoned professional- honestly, being the professional he is, they probably never even caught on that they had offended him. 

All I can think is that it is a sad sad day when buyers have been led to believe that the only thing they’re paying an agent to do is “write a contract.”  I sincerely doubt that this is going to improve any time soon as long as the techies have anything to say about it. 

Needless to say, the buyers still have not contracted, nor have they hired George, and even if they decided they wanted to, George would not hire them.  The reality is, what George brings to the table is George’s to sell or not, and George has every reason in the world to move down the road away from buyers who are liars

So, here is a tip for anyone who wants to use this method of interviewing over commissions- don’t.  That should be the very last reason to interview an agent.  Qualifications run more deeply than the commission- the commission is what the qualifications are worth- a conversation George was most willing to have.   

I wish these two buyers much success in their endeavors and pray they find an agent worthy of their approach.  I hope from my heart that they save a couple thousand in commissions, and can negotiate blindly a sales price they can live with.  We support the idea of interviews of agents and their qualifications, but we do not support the idea of being lied to in order to do it. 

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Kelley Koehler

    January 10, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I’ve had a similar experience, although I managed to sniff out his true intentions after a couple of email exchanges, and before we actually met in person.

    He found a site that will give a 1% rebate of the buying side commission, which would be about a third of the total commission from the builder he liked. But – he wanted someone with local knowledge to drive him around and teach him about the other builders, make sure he was making a good choice. And for the privilege of helping him, all he wanted from me was half of my commission.

    He didn’t want to go with the anonymous website rebater, no, he wanted to deal with a human agent, have all of my knowledge and experience, and expected me to give up more of my hard earned money than even a website referrer was willing to give after putting in absolutely no work.

  2. Benn Rosales

    January 10, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    So why not call the website company and have them show the house…

  3. Corey K

    January 10, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    While I can agree being lied to about the meetings intentions is not cool. One thing I have learned in my many years of sales experience is, “Buyers are Liars”. This will always be the case.

  4. Charleston real estate blog

    January 10, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Benn, I’ll take a page from Jeff Brown and write a short essay with a slightly different twist on buyers in today’s market:

    I received this email from someone who had been registered on my website. As you’ll see, they didn’t choose to use me but went the do it yourself route instead.

    “My husband and I have signed an agreement on a new construction home in the Charleston area and agreed to go with their lender and closing attorney. Now we feel we may have jumped in too quick, as this is our first home buying experience. We are realizing that their lenders may not always act in our best interest and would like to have someone with experience on our side. Does this sound like something you could help us out with? We initially signed up with an internet company where we found the listing for the development but again not sure if they are really in it for us. Thanks.”

    The only help I could provide them at that point in time was to suggest they seek the advice of a good real estate attorney. But it illustrates the do it yourself, know nothing at all kind of mistake that many buyers have made and will continue to make trading by competency for a rebate.

    Until the consumer public understands the real value a real estate agent can bring to the transaction, many will choose to skip the service or attempt to reduce the cost of the service and in this case sadly, at a much higher price. Our real job is to communicate the value that we offer to the client; failing to do that will cause many agents to be cut out of the deal or be forced to reduce their fees.

  5. Benn Rosales

    January 10, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    great example…

  6. Benn Rosales

    January 10, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Corey, sure, thats always been true, even myself as a buyer will lie about income if it means I get less on a sales price. I’ve never been honest about what I’ll pay on something, but this is just a new low and very unnecessary…

  7. Kelley Koehler

    January 10, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    See, I was hoping this wouldn’t go there. I hate that phrase. Most of the people I work with are not telling me lies. It’s rare for me to come across someone who is lying to me to try and maniuplate something. I know they exist, and I’ve run across my share. But the majority of my buyers have honest intentions.

  8. Charleston real estate blog

    January 10, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Kelley, I agree with you, to call all buyers liars is unfair to the very nice people we have all been fortunate enough to work with.

  9. ines

    January 10, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I just shook my head back and forth while I read this. It’s a sad day when buyers feel like they have to manipulate a situation to get what they want.

    They will ultimately end up working with someone that will manipulate them into overpaying, and overlooking important factors.

  10. Benn Rosales

    January 11, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Kelley, I cringed when I saw that comment, I’m just making the point that regardless of the phrase, it’s still a new low.

    To your point, when you are an actual client, there isn’t a REASON to lie- it would make representation moot. It is those who do not want to be sold or closed by someone selling them somthing that tend to lie, as I said, I am guilty of that phrase, that doesn’t make me a liar by nature- I’m actually being defensive.

  11. Kelley Koehler

    January 11, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Benn – yah, I understand that wasn’t your point, and I agree with you. Also about fibbing when defensive. It’s not Buyers are Liars, it’s Buyers are Liars because their agent has failed to ____________. I hear that phrased tossed around about current clients, and it infurates me to no end. 9 times of 10, it’s not them, it’s you, dummy.

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