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:
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.
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.
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.