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Showing Afterglow

Learning Together

I know that almost all the AG’ers are frequently asked why we write and share posts with others.  Recently I got a great example of exactly how social media should work.  This blog should be an educational tool, among other things.  By all of us sharing we can start to develop good tools to help in our business.

I AG’d an outline about why feedback typically isn’t in the buyer’s best interest.   The comment stream was excellent and a lot of valid considerations and ideas were shared in a professional manner.  The post isn’t nearly as important as the comments that were shared.  There are a great many ethical and legal considerations in everything we do, and even something as seemingly trivial as giving feedback could be a detriment to your client.  

Let’s take a minute and look at some ideas that could help you after showing the property.  Please feel free to comment with ideas on how you handle clients after the showing.  This post is simply a starting point in developing an advanced process for showings.

It Starts with the Listing Agent

After outlining my diatribe about feedback, Christina Ethridge gave four outstanding questions that she asks Buyer Agents after they’ve shown one of her listings.  She says this:

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As a listing agent – I DO request feedback BUT – it’s not about price, clutter, repairs, etc.

I ask the BA’s the following questions (all with scaling options to simply circle):

1. Did you have any problems scheduling the showing?
2. Were you able to show the property as planned?
3. Were the owners/tenants cooperative (if there).
4. Is there anything I can do better to make your job easier (in regards to my listings).

I DO leave an opened ended – is there anything else you’d like me (or the seller) to know about this property? Surprisingly, this gets filled in quite a bit.

My job is to do the best I can for my seller – my job is also to make showing my listings as easy as possible for other agents – I need to know when there are scheduling issues, etc.

This is a fantastic philosophy and direction for Listing Agents to take in gathering feedback.  As much as I think that Buyer Agents are doing their clients an injustice by answering requests for feedback, I do think that Listing Agents should ask for it as they were hired to do whatever they can to put their Sellers in the best position possible. Christina’s questions work on many levels, but primarily to show the Seller that she is tending to the Seller’s best interest, by ensuring that folks are getting into the listing.  I can also see where, because of tradition, the buyer agents would just get a case of “spontaneous utterance” and spill their client’s hearts about the property.

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I feel that faxes and even phone calls are antiquated and time consuming.  I much prefer ONE e-mail sent to other agents.  More than that, it’s just spam and a harassment.  E-mail worked best for me.  I used a feedback service for awhile and then realized there was a cheaper way.  Upon getting a new listing, I would create a new Outlook Signature that had a photo of the property and five basic questions.  They weren’t nearly as good as Christina’s, but they asked for things such as what did the client like most, was the home a consideration, etc…  My lockbox system would e-mail me showings and I would immediately send off the e-mail request for feedback.  I didn’t really care what the agents said, but I did use the contact information to update them of price reductions and such.

How About “My Opinion”

Some agents commented on the previous post that they didn’t give their client’s opinion, but there own.  While in an agency relationship, it’s as if I’m “walking in my clients” shoes and I find it difficult to see how you can easily divorce yourself from your client in the eyes of the Seller.  If your clients have absolutely no interest in the property, then ask them to allow you to give your feedback to the Seller.  I’ll explain more about that later.  I personally have had clients who completely wrote off certain properties come back later and desire to make an offer, after seeing other inventory.  Buyers are just too unpredictable.  Besides, what’s to say that your next buyer client may not be interested in the same home?  It’s never your job to coach the opposing client.   If their own agent can’t stage, price and market the home; than eventually the Seller will figure this out and hire a professional.  I place a high value on working with other agents and leaving a good legacy in my relationships, so declining to answer a feedback request can and should be done professionally and explained to the opposing agent the reasons.

“The Price is Always Too High”

Why shouldn’t a Buyer Agent always say the price is too high?  Isn’t that always in the buyers best interest?  It may be in the buyer’s best interest; but most states and Article 1 of the Realtor Code of Ethics, requires honesty to all parties.  Also, you may be faced with the opportunity to interview this seller in the future, if their current listing agent can’t get it done.  I have taken several listings, where Sellers have contacted me from the business card I left during the showing.  I wouldn’t want to be in a position to retract my price opinion, now that I have the chance to list the property.  Don’t say the price is too high unless you can really quantify that opinion and it’s true.

How Should I Proceed

In a future post I will outline a good solid buyer interview and what should be covered, but for now (as with everything in RE) this all depends on a good start.  In the buyer interview you should discuss how showings work and that some agents request feedback.  Get an idea of how your Buyer would feel if you gave their feedback to the Seller.  I would also strongly recommend using a form that your client gets to express their thoughts on each listing.  I used a one page form, that allowed feedback for up to four listings.  At the end of the showing cycle, I’d ask the clients for their notes, so that I can use them to help narrow down the things they are looking for in their future home.  The last question would read: “May I share your thoughts or my own about the property condition, staging and pricing with the Seller, should they request it?”  Most of my buyers said no and a few said they didn’t care.  Some would say no if they truly didn’t want the home and for those “possibilities” they would say that I couldn’t share.

Also if there was any chance that I may wish to list the property in the future, I would hang on to the feedback so that I could recall what I wanted to concentrate on, for my future listing appointments. (I would not share the actual notes with my potential Sellers)  If the house was overpriced and not staged well it will expire eventually.  Therefore we mark the listing in MLS so that we can get e-mailed when it expires and call the Seller upon expiration, to remind them that you showed the property and are obviously familiar with the market.  If you use this technique, but have disparaged the property in the past than you may have cost a future listing.  

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There just isn’t very many positive things for you or your client to gain by giving Seller the benefit of your experience, when they have hired someone else.  There are a number of good reasons why you shouldn’t share.

Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is TheAgentTrainer.com.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    January 10, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I like Christina’s questions, because of course they all say it is too high.

    I like your idea of setting up a signature for each property with the photo and then sending it out.

    Right now our office uses Showing Desk and I upgraded to put my own questions in, but still not perfect.

    In our area, giving feedback is customary but I read your other post and know where you are coming from with fiduciary.

    I look forward to your next post.

  2. Jonathan Dalton

    January 10, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    > Why shouldn’t a Buyer Agent always say the price is too high?

    This answer can be given and technically be honest in all situations – if the price was correct, based on the buyers’ perception of the value, then you’d be writing an offer and not taking a feedback call.

    And if I have the chance to interview with the seller down the line, odds are highly against my taking the listing at the same price at which it already was proven that there’s no market.

  3. Matt Thomson

    January 10, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    I’m really surprised reading your two posts and the comments that follow. Christina’s questions were great, but are they really rare? Part of being a good agent, in my opinion, is developing good relationships with other agents. Maybe that’s just due to my small marketplace. Giving feedback is part of developing relationships. But I never ask–and am rarely asked–what my clients thought, or the price, etc. We generally all check in to make sure that as a listing agent, did I do everything necessary to make your job as a buyer’s agent easy. I don’t understand the resentment of getting a phone call or email from someone who will potentially be providing your next paycheck. Life as a buyer’s agent would be pretty tough if there were no listing agents.

  4. Marvin Jensen

    January 11, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Since you mentioned my feedback in you last post, I feel the need to chime in again. In regards to giving MY opinion instead of my client’s, you said:

    “Some agents commented on the previous post that they didn’t give their client’s opinion, but there own. While in an agency relationship, it’s as if I’m “walking in my clients” shoes and I find it difficult to see how you can easily divorce yourself from your client in the eyes of the Seller”.

    I don’t live in my clients shoes 24 hours a day and I have many clients that I represent, I think I can handle speaking in MY voice and giving MY opinion when ask, that doesn’t in any way jeopardize my buyers best interest. I don’t turn onto robot for the buyer when the agency is signed.

    “Also if there was any chance that I may wish to list the property in the future, I would hang on to the feedback so that I could recall what I wanted to concentrate on, for my future listing appointment”

    It sounds like you don’t give feedback because you are really the only GOOD agent out there, and when these other petty agents fail, then you will swoop in and get the listing; as you should have in the beginning. Give me a break…

    Please come down from you high horse long enough to realize there are other agents you can help sometimes, I am sure they would appreciate it, and will remember it when you need some… (but of course, you never do).

  5. Jim Gatos

    January 11, 2009 at 5:30 am

    I just try very very hard to avoid these issues and don’t even bother with filling in showing feedback forms. I actually had an agent from another agency call my manager and complain that I was toooo opinionated and with no class (LOL) because I wrote down the property had a strong stench of body odor and a person could “guess” what the sellers eating habits were simply by the “whiff”. Hey, you, know, THEY ASKED FOR FEEDBACK! Now they want diplomacy in the feedback too, eh? LOL..

    I simply don’t answer them; if I do, I write the following on each question…

    “Thank you…”

  6. Matthew Rathbun

    January 11, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Matt: I think that the questions are rare in most markets. The feedback requests I’ve received over the years have almost always been 1. What did you think of the price 2. How did the house present 3. Are you planning a second showing 4. What can the Sellers do to make the house more appealing, etc… Looks like your local market has had some great training and guidance.

    I think it’s great that there is a different culture in your market than in mine!

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    January 11, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Marvin: Commenting on “My Opinion” was actually secondary to an e-mail I received from a friend at my market place, who asked me to expand on that issue and your comments. It wasn’t a personal slight, but an expansion on my opinion.

    We’re both welcome to opposing opinions, but when you interject phrases such as “high horse” and other snarky comments, you strip away the ability of others to interact in a civilized learning environment.

    I think that it’s great that after 20 some comments in two related posts and probably 10 emails off the blog, that you felt the need to interject a negative comment. The point of my posts were to stimulate dialog to cultivate an awareness that many other instructors have already been teaching for a year now. You can see that almost everyone else was working to that end.

    You said that you felt that my basis was built on feeling that I was the only “good” agent. Not at all, but I have to say that commenting on someone else’s self righteousness, denotes an incredible level of narcissism all on its own.

    So, I’ll choose to continue to use these posts as a learning tool and say this:

    No, I absolutely do not think I am the only good agent, there may be one or two others out there 🙂

    My attempt was to show a.) that the buyer’s opinion of a home is not yours to share without expressed permission of the opinion holder and only when they have full awareness of potential harm.

    b.) There are other better ways to cultivate a good relationship with agents than selling out your clients.

    c.) There is a level of enlightened self interest in not preparing the listing agent and seller to compete against your client, you or other listings you may have in your market place.

    d.)No, you cannot divorce yourself from your agency relationship “after hours”, in most states and according to the COE you are obliged to agency relationships either ostensible or expressed 24/7 until termination or completion of the relationship.

    I would recommend that if anyone desired to give their feedback, then email the Lister and expressly say “I cannot / will not share my client’s thoughts; however here’s what I thought could be done better”

    These techniques and thoughts are derived from instructor schools and will be much more prevalent in the coming days. I know that some of you don’t like changes to the status quo.

    Regardless of what I try to convey to folks, some people will still always prize their relationships with other agents over their client’s long term goals and needs. You may not think that you do – but what does the client think?

  8. Marvin Jensen

    January 11, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Matthew,

    My comments to you were based on the way your TONE came across in the post, regarding other agents lack of ability to list and sell. If that was not your intension, then I apologize.

    However, if you are unwilling to receive criticism without calling the others’ critiques narcissistic, just beacuse you don’t agree, then I wonder about your effectiveness as a blogger or teacher.

    Good luck to you in your future postings.

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    January 11, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Marvin,

    Nope, it wasn’t my intention to have a tone, at all. Unfortunately it’s true that many agents aren’t very good at listing property.

    I am very open to critique, so long as it’s healthy and in the best interest of development.

    I apologize for my tone in the post – it was more tongue and cheek than anything.

    Regards…

  10. Bob

    January 11, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Let’s take a minute and look at some ideas that could help you after showing the property.

    I fail to see where feed back has anything to do with my helping my buyer, unless it means that I turn the tables on the listing agent and get them to sell out their client. But if my client is interested, I’ve probably already made the first move anyway.

    I do not respond to fax or email requests for feedback. i dont have time to burn on that activity which does me little, if any good.

    The last question would read: “May I share your thoughts or my own about the property condition, staging and pricing with the Seller, should they request it?”

    Again, why would I do this?

  11. Matthew Rathbun

    January 11, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Bob, I’m with you. I was giving options for those who wish to give feedback, regardless of recommendations to not do so.

    If someone is going to give feedback, than I wanted to give ideas of I use to do to facilitate protecting both me and the client.

  12. Bob

    January 11, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    I’m curious as to how many listing agents ask for feedback.

  13. Paula Henry

    January 14, 2009 at 4:51 am

    When I worked in Arizona and California, we almost never received feedback. Here, in Indiana, many companies use a showing service, I use Centralized showings. Our apointments are set by them and the feedback request is sent by email with a picture of the home and whatever questions the selling agent wants to ask.

    This series has me reflecting about the questions I ask, but I do have to say,
    when dealing with a bank on a short sale, the feedback is important.

    If I am representing a buyer who has no interest in a home, based on certain conditions or price, I do answer the questions. If my clent has the least bit of interest, I do NOT answer pricing questions.

  14. Melissa Lee

    April 4, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Thanks for this perspective on whether providing buyer feedback is working in our buyers’ best interest. I was actually just looking for some good feedback questions and came across your post. Good info and… truly I didn’t think you had a tone.

  15. Rick Bengson

    April 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    The Seller’s are really the one’s who want the feedback. After a showing, it is natural that they want to know what a Buyer thinks about their beloved home.
    Having a system whereby they can login and see the feedback directly from the showing agent and not their own agent provides them with transparancy and control to the transaction. This way they do not doubt the actual feedback and can see it straight from the “horses mouth”. Also when the agent’s do not respond, the seller’s see their agent did their job and it was the listing agent who chose not to cooperate with feedback.
    It’s also helpful for listing changes, price reductions, commission bonuses, etc.. to be able to email all the agents whom have shown a listing to their clients on that property of that listing change.
    Granted these functions are not important to all agents, but they are to many of them in providing these services to their seller’s.

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