Small Disclaimer: I have never met any of the AG writers personally. I’m positive they are warm, caring, intelligent and thoughtful human beings. I particularly like Matt Stigliano’s writing. Don’t take this personally.
Your Client Doesn’t Want To Be Your Friend
There has been a lot of writing on AG of late about how we really need to get warm and fuzzy with our clients and, barring that, really need to take their interests to heart and not do anything mean and nasty like get involved with Dual Agency or anything else that has even the slightest whiff of conflict of interest. The thinking goes that if we get warm and fuzzy and do right by them, they’ll come to love us and create all kinds of wonderful business opportunities for us. Of course, the business opportunities are just a kind of side benefit. The real goal is to get more friends. You know. Coffee at Starbucks. Thanksgiving dinner. Play dates with the kids.
Here’s a real shocker for all you relationship types out there: your client doesn’t want you to be their friend. They have friends. Their friends can’t help them buy or sell a house. That’s why they called you.
The Home Buyer
Everyone knows there some huge percentage of home buyers surf the ‘Net before they even think about getting in touch with a Realtor. Why do you think that is? Do you think it’s because they have warm and fuzzy feelings about Realtors? Do you think it’s because every Tom, Dick and Mary feel they’re so technologically advanced that once they connect via their dial-up connection they can find their dream home?
They don’t know any nice, warm, fuzzy Realtors whom they either like or trust. If they did, they wouldn’t be on the ‘Net. They’d be in your car. If you met them in the coffee shop or the Chinese take out and really made an impression on them after you talked about the local sports team, their car troubles, this terrible swine flu thing and how wonderful it is that their little Suzy is a tree in the school play, they would be on the phone to you. They wouldn’t be looking on Zillow or Trulia for guidance.
The truth is: you didn’t make an impression, they didn’t need any more friends and they were this close to telling you to take a hike but were too polite to say so.
The Home Seller
Did you know that most people forget who their buyer’s agent was within 90 days of settlement? Pretty phenomenal, huh? Of course, the key is to keep in touch or “top of mind” via postcards, newsletters, phone calls, unannounced visits and the like. Even then, if they really didn’t have the optimal experience buying the house, they probably won’t use your services anyway.
Even if they remember you, they may be swayed by the “neighborhood expert” who has been papering the neighborhood with postcards and fliers (aka “farming”) for the last six years.
It’s A Business Transaction And They Know It
Buying and selling real estate is a business transaction. Your client understands this. Wanna know how they know? It’s because we’re required, in most States, to shove a legal document into their face at the earliest opportunity to let them know they had better be on the lookout because Realtors are out to screw them. Whether it’s a one pager like an Agency Disclosure form or a multi-page, 10 point font document like a Buyer’s Broker Agreement or Listing Agreement, it amounts to the same thing. This is business, Mr Home Seller/Buyer, not pleasure. There are legal considerations to be aware of and you may want or need an attorney.
Now, let’s go down to Starbucks for a latte and talk about whether the new Redskins coach will turn the team around.
Get Over Yourself
Realtors have huge egos. We have to have them to get over the massive amount of rejection we experience. People interview three Realtors. We don’t get the job. We take clients out house hunting. They buy from an agent in an Open House and our Broker tells us to suck it up. Any number of scenarios come to mind. We need to be tough and we also want to be loved. Why else are there tens of thousands of Realtors out there who will proudly state “I’m #1”, “I’m a TOP producer” or some other such tripe that can’t possibly be true.
The sad fact is that most people who hire Realtors to assist with the real estate transaction do so because they have some little voice in the back of their head saying they might need some help. If I have a broken arm, I don’t go to a plumber, no matter how much I love my plumber. I go to a trained professional who can help my broken arm. Home buyers and sellers don’t call you up because your kids are on the same little league team. That part is just a coincidence.