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“Showing Feedback” is Dumb


Showing Feedback

I think this is one of the most benign issues that takes up our time….I do.  I know that regardless if it’s expressed in the comments or not, someone will get angry that I wrote this….they will.  I think this issue is detrimental to buyers….here’s why.

The Expectation versus Reality

The question came from a class several months ago, when an agent asked what statute required a buyer agent to answer the Listing Agent’s request for showing feedback.  I answered that in our Commonwealth, there is no statute, lockbox agreement, standard of practice or MLS rule that gave the Buyer Agent an affirmative obligation to disclose their client’s thoughts about a home.  The class erupted… As I typically do, I ask for folks to prove me wrong – show me where it was a rule.  No one could.  I have a friend who tells people that if they are going to choose to practice law without a license – be right.  

The agent’s primary argument is that they somehow deserve feedback and the buyer agent should be compelled to do it.  I agree that returning calls or e-mails is reflective of professionalism.  However, what benefit does the BUYER actually receive from the Buyer Agent telling the Seller what they thought.

I Choose Door Number 4, Bob

With the exception of Dual Agency (which is from the devil) Buyer Agents owe complete loyalty to the Buyer.  When the Listing Agent asks the Buyer Agent for feedback – what exactly can you say, that at some level doesn’t potentially damage the buyer?

1.  “My clients LOVE the house” – translation: We’ll do whatever we can to get in, please reject anything other than a full price offer.

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2.  “My clients HATE the house” – translation: door closed and after seeing all the other junk out there, in this price range we may decide to come back. If we come back, you can feel free to understand that we’ll jump ship as soon as we find something better, ergo negotiating with me is a waste of time.

3.  “Well my clients like it ‘ok’ but we don’t think we’ll make an offer” – translation:  Please keep calling me every freaking day until my buyers decide that they wish to buy something else, or I am forced to lie to you about my clients being under contract so you’ll stop stalking me!

4.  “My clients are still in their search and have made no decisions” – translation: We’ll let you know when an if we’re ready to make an offer.  Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

Who’s Job Is It?

It is never the Buyer Agents job to help the Seller sell their home.  Commenting on the advertising efforts, staging, declutter, price reductions etc…  are all the responsibility of the Listing Agent.  What decent Buyer Agent wouldn’t ALWAYS recommend a price reduction?!?!  For a Buyer Agent to give any of the above advice is in direct conflict with their responsibilities to the Buyer.  If your buyer doesn’t desire the house right now, and you give feedback to improve the Seller’s chance of selling, then you have hurt the buyer should they change their minds and come back to make an offer on the house.

Often I’ll hear that Listing Agents are collecting this feedback to help them convince their seller to declutter, stage or price reduce.  My question is why did you begin marketing an unmarketable property in the first place?  Price adjustments are always a consideration, and if the Listing Agent isn’t able to build a case with their own resources and tools, than maybe there isn’t a strong case to be made for the price reduction.

Who Is Your Client?

Remember who you represent.  During your buyer interview session, when you get the expressed buyer agency agreement, ask your buyers how they would like you to answer feedback inquires.  Give them a list of all the ways that it could potentially harm them, and the fact that it doesn’t benefit them at all and see what they tell you to do.  Being able to tell the listing agent that your clients have directed you to not give feedback, is a strong case and should help keep good relationships with other agents.  Sometimes you have to man-up and not be bullied or intimidated with what your local market traditions have been.  

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Also remember this – the Listing Agent SHOULD be asking.  My post is not to say that there is anything wrong with asking.  If the Buyer Agent isn’t looking out after their clients in the manner outlined above, then recall that the Seller hired you to use every legal trick to sell the house.  It’s not two-faced, it’s remembering who hired you and that you are required to work in THAT client’s best interest – not all involved and certainly not the other persons client.

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



  1. Bob

    January 9, 2009 at 9:52 am

    The only time I respond to that question is if they happen to get me on the phone. My answer is always, “We have seen a lot of properties and I cant remember them all. All I can tell you is that if we didn’t send you an offer, then they aren’t interested. Good luck with that listing. Thanks for calling.”

    That’s it. If you need my feed back, then you have a whole other set of problems.

  2. Brian Block

    January 9, 2009 at 10:47 am


    I typically will give a similar answer to the one Bob gave above. There really is no right way to answer this question from a buyer agent perspective.

    Maybe an option for a buyer agent is to reverse the question and get feedback from the listing agent on their seller — “So how motivated are the sellers to sell” or “Any special circumstances we should know about — like a job loss or divorce?”

    Turn the tables during those pesky feedback calls.

    And that’s not legal advice, even though I am a lawyer!

  3. Adorna Carroll

    January 9, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Matthew – thank you for the excellent post regarding feedback. Feedback from the cooperating agent to the seller’s agent is a practice/requirement that comes from the requirements within the confines of sub-agency only where the coop agent was actually a spy for the seller, worked for the listing agent and had a customer – with no confidentiality – to the buyer. The factt that listing agents have not adapted thier expectations demonstrates how necessary new training is for seller agents. No buyer agent can provided feedback without the expressed writen consent of their buyer client since all conversation between them is confidential. The only response that I have offered a seller agent’s feedback request is “Thank you for allowing us to see the property. If my client has interest I will give you a call”. I also may not provide my personal opinion since at some point in time I may have a client who doesSRS what to submit an offer and that would reduce thier negotiation ability and stategty options. Again – thanks for your timely and relevant post on the necessity for seller’s agents to upgrade their skills and techniques.
    Adorna Carroll, Broker
    SRS – Seller Representative Specialist
    ABR – Accredited Buyer Representative
    Partner – SRS Council, LLP

  4. Eric Holmes

    January 9, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Give me the website option over the phone call any day of the week. Cutting and pasting an answer such as, “Did not make the buyers top 3. Thanks for the time.” is simple and I use it to promote who I am and my website. It’s hard to remember every listing that I show, so I started tracking my showings with google maps. It helps me remember what I’ve shown, what I thought about it and it’s a great way to show future buyers the areas I service. Leaving feedback reminds me to update my map.

  5. Dan Connolly

    January 9, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I gave up on feedback years age. What I say is “I represent the buyer and I do not believe it is in my buyer’s best interest to tell you what they thought about your listing! Sorry, I hope you understand.” After they get that response a couple of times some of them actually don’t call any more!

  6. Ken Brand

    January 9, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I concur doctor. I share the same sentiment for other reasons too.

    A helpful (naive) agent shares feedback, ie., the price is too high, de-clutter, paint, brighten, etc.

    Bad things happen:

    The seller listens and makes marketing/merchandising adjustments, now a competitors house is positioned more competitively against other listings you or your team mates might have in the neighborhood. Way to go, you just helped your competition kick your ass.

    2. The listing agent is having trouble convincing the seller to take action, the seller is beating them up for not generating contracts.

    The listing agent shares your feedback saying, “Mr Seller, I love your house, these agents think you should reduce the price.”

    The seller is angry at the listing agent and now he doesn’t like you or your company for giving what he feels is ridiculous feedback. If you or a team mate had a shot on the relist, you don’t now, the seller thinks you and your company suck.

    Lot’s of things can happen with feedback, 99% are not positive. A good agent knows what buyers and other agents think about the property, if you’re unsure, ask your team mates for candid feed back.

    My 2cents…..nice point.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    January 9, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Thanks everyone for you comments thus far. I thought I was the minority on this issue.

    Additional points I’d like to make from comments here:

    1. If you’re a listing agent seeking feedback, please do not call me 3-4 weeks after showing. I will not remember.

    2. Don’t send faxes – I haven’t the time to process them.

    3. e-mail is ok, but once it becomes junkmail, you’ll never hear from me again.

    4. Send e-mail and include a picture of the house.

  8. Marvin Jensen

    January 9, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    These are all good points that I didn’t consider.

    I always take the time to give feedback that won’t harm my buyer/broker relationship. Most are my personal opinions about the property and what they could do to improve the showing. Selling agents appreciate the feedback, I know i do. Most already know what is wrong with the listing, but their sellers like to get feedback from other agents as confirmation of the shortcoming of the listing. Some are new comments that weren’t considered. A showing is similar to a broker open, you want feedback from your fellow Realtors if your listing doesn’t show in the best light. If you think that this is somehow hurting your buyer/agent relationship, then don’t give the feedback.

  9. 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.

    In our area, all showings go through the agent or the company, BA’s do not call sellers directly.

  10. Ken Brand

    January 9, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Christina – those are smart questions.

  11. Benn Rosales

    January 9, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Christina, dead on, outstanding comment, and I love that approach. Essentially it asks am I doing my best, allowing you to improve, and opens the door to greater convo over the home if they so choose. In either case, the homeowner is served knowing you’re doing your job, and not afraid of the answer.

    Just great.

  12. Matthew Rathbun

    January 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Ding, Ding, Ding… Christina wins the award for the first one in a long while to convince me that there are good questions. If nothing else, this shows how great you are to the Sellers!

    That’s Awesome!

  13. Dan Connolly

    January 9, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Yeah Christina,
    I would answer those kind of feedback questions!

  14. Linda Hutchinson

    January 9, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I honestly don’t think it is a terrible thing to give feedback. I agree with Marvin in that most of my feedback is usually my personal opinion on the house. But we all SHOULD remember that other agents are also our customers. In other words, when the tables are turned and I want them to show MY listings…I would like to think that my fellow agents have a positive opinion of me and my professionalism and want to help me. I know, for the most part, I want to help others. This concept has worked well for me for over two decades.

    To that end, why not give a little feedback? Why be negative about a short and simple response to a question? The Golden Rule should still apply…even in the highly competitive field of real estate.

    PS: Christina is very smart! Great questions.

  15. Melina Tomson

    January 9, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    If an agent makes it easy for me (ie sends me an email with a flyer) I am happy to tell them that the house was overpriced and my buyers are continuing to look.

    I can say that most of the time, I ignore their pricing feedback request unless my clients were interested. Then the house becomes automatically overpriced in my feedback to the agent.

    I make it work for my clients advantage when possible.

  16. Jim Gatos

    January 10, 2009 at 6:19 am

    I try very hard NOT to give feedback to a listing agent because in that rare case where a client may be interested in the property later the feedback could be used against my client.

  17. Matthew Rathbun

    January 10, 2009 at 6:41 am

    I believe in “Do unto others…” but I have to build a prioritized list of whom the others may be. Do unto others – needs to be applied to my client first.

    The listing agent, if they are educated in such matters, needs to be a professional and understand that this does not represent your clients best interest and respect you for putting your client in the first position of priority.

    The opposing client is never my customer, in a legal or ethical sense. (least not in VA) The only duty ever imposed upon me in regards to the opposing agent is honesty. I can “honestly” tell them that its not in my client’s best interest to give them feedback.

  18. Ruthmarie Hicks

    January 10, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I have to say that I agree with most of what’s been stated here. What annoys me the most is clearing the “spam” of requests when I do a lot of showings. If I don’t answer the first time – they send it AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. Most of these are on auto-pilot and they clog up my inbox. Also, when I get phone calls – they seem to feel they are entitled to the information.

  19. Greg Staker

    January 10, 2009 at 11:00 am

    You make some interesting points about feedback. Thank you for the post.

    Feedback or the lack of feedback has been a contentious point between real estate agents for as long as I can remember. In the “old days” getting an agent to provide you with feedback after they showed your listing was easier simply because the showing agent had to return the key to you.

    I am curious though, you state that,

    It is never the Buyer Agents job to help the Seller sell their home.

    But it is their job to help the buyer buy a home, right? Would it be in the buyer’s best interest for you to respond to a feed back request if your buyer had some interest but not at the price listed? Would passing that information onto the seller via their agent give the seller a chance to show their motivation level, hopefully resulting in opening negotiations between them and the buyer?

    If your buyer has absolutely no interest in the home at any price could a case be made that when real estate agents work together offering suggestions, educated opinions or providing feedback, by doing so they build strong relationships and strengthen their local markets to the benefit of all?

    I think that a middle ground can be found regarding feedback. I too liked Christina’s comment. Professional, courteous interaction between agents, even in the form of feedback, could be a positive experience, right?

  20. Matthew Rathbun

    January 10, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Gang, this post has sort of taken a life of it’s own. I decided to AG a follow up post to give some more thought to this issue. Please take a look here:

  21. Karen Rice

    June 26, 2009 at 1:53 am

    I totally do not understand how leaving some benign feedback to appease a seller is going to compromise your fiduciary duty to your buyer. That’s just stretching it more than a little, if you ask me.

    Nobody said you have to go into great detail. Giving a comment like “Buyer liked home, is considering…” or “Buyer liked home, but felt price was too high for condition/location” or “Buyer is considering other options…” or “Buyer did not care for location…”

    How in the heck would that jeopardize negotiations? I agree that the feedback is kind of silly, if the buyer really liked the home, the buyer would make an offer….but I fail to see where there’s harm in doing it.

  22. Benn Rosales

    June 26, 2009 at 2:26 am

    I guess if you have it in writing as a statement from the buyer that you can say that, I suppose all the bases are covered. I wonder how many agents actually even ask their buyers permission? There may not be harm so long as the person doing the feeding back is in fact acting as directed by the buyer… imo

  23. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 17, 2009 at 8:13 am


    I know I’m very late here, but this info is timeless! Great post BTW.

    I have always HATED the whole showing feedback process, intent, etc. It’s not my job as a buyer’s agent to help the listing agent get the house ready to show. That’s the Listing Agent’s job and why they get the commish. Not to mention all the solid ethical reasons others pointed out in this post.

    What’s really irritating is when you are really working hard, doing 10-20 showings per day with a client for like three days in a row, and, while you are trying to get to the next property w/o getting lost, an agent calls you for feedback before you can even get out of the neighborhood.

    Unidentified local number on the caller ID. Is this the one you are trying to get an appointment for three homes from now, or is this some over anxious SLACKER that wants feedback already on a home you just showed.

    You have to take it! It might be the appointment call.

    I used to tell agents to please email me and I will do all feedback via email in my spare time. Then, even this got irritating because really, who has free time?

    So now I don’t do ANY feedback and if they trap me by leaving the old voicemail “please call me I have a question for you” (presumably about one of your listings so you call back), then I tell them “It’s not my job to help you sell your property.”

    This goes over REAL well, but oh well.

    Hey, I’m just glad that there are at least SOME other agents out there that feel the way I do.

    Rob in Atlanta

  24. Eric Holmes

    September 17, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Seriously??? If you don’t want to leave feedback, then don’t. However, I think the excuse that it somehow breaches the fiduciary responsibility of the client is STUPID.

    Sell houses and stop thinking about getting sued. You’ll be much happier. If you work from the moral standpoint that you’ll treat your clients like you’d want to be treated, then 99% of the time you’re doing your job correctly. It’s called a code of ethics for a reason.

    If you’re the type of person that thinks that a simple comment like “over priced for the neighborhood” is somehow handcuffing your abilty to negotiate, then I pity you. Go play chess. Think about your 50 first moves on your way to domination and then pat yourself on the back for being such a fantastic chess player. There won’t be any high-fives to be dolled out because nobody cares about chess and nobody cares about your shrewd real estate tactics by not giving feedback. Your Real Estate Brain is mas grande. Go flex it at Venice Beach.

    Buyers will buy a house if they want to buy it and sellers will sell it if they think they’re getting a decent price. Feedback has negligible effects on the final result.

    If you want to be lazy, be lazy. If you don’t care about feedback, then don’t care about feedback. I’ll give you a high five for being honest at least. Just stop it with fiduciary responsibility and benign/generic feedback. Sheesh.

    What has two thumbs and thinks talking about agent feedback is over-thinking Realtor???

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< This Guy

  25. MIssy Caulk

    September 18, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Actually feedback in my area is very customary. It is usually in email form and we can customize the questions and I do.

    As basically a listing agent my sellers do like it. They all want to know what people thought of their home.

    When I do show homes, I don’t mind giving feedback, guess I’m in the minority here.

  26. Karen Rice

    September 18, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I’m in the minority with you Missy. I don’t mind giving feedback and it’s pretty customary here as well. Sometimes it’s less than helpful, sometimes it’s dumb/silly, but sellers do like to receive it and we’ve only got a few agents who are snarky and don’t want to give it.

    • Lilly Hughes

      December 16, 2015 at 9:40 am

      exactly; but more and more of the buyer’s agents are ignoring it. I think it’s because 1/they show too many in one day and can’t remember one from another are too lazy to make notes. That in itself will come back to bite them one day.

  27. Eric Hempler

    February 22, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I would have to agree that showing feedback is of no value. Experiencing it as a home seller i fount it to be completely useless. One comment I received was regarding my kitchen. The showing agent ripped apart the home just because we didn’t put crown molding up for the cabinets. If I were able to explain to the agent why that wouldn’t have worked I would have felt much better.

    Here’s why it wouldn’t have worked. Since it was a small kitchen I bought extra tall cabinets that I could push all the way to the ceiling. If they were lower because of crown they would have covered the outlets.

    That is why I found feedback worthless, plus the fact I’m sure Realtors see hundreds of homes and can’t remember them all.

  28. Lilly Hughes

    December 16, 2015 at 9:38 am

    It’s just another example of the best defense is an offense. You just don’t want to do it. Everything you do helps the buyer in way or another if you know your business and your agency. I have seen sellers change something based on feedback that lead to the buyer getting what he wanted. I don’t expect someone to tell me they are sending an offer. Every house looks different in the eyes of the beholder. If enough beholders perceive the house needs something done to it, it’ll get done, and your buyer might just be the beneficiary if you gave feedback. There are many tasks that we do that do not lead to direct benefit for anyone but becomes part of the whole. Maybe if the listing agent made it more mindless, as I do, and put it in short survey form, it would be easier than a broad-based what did you think.

  29. Fred

    April 14, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    As a home seller I appreciated the feedback comments my agents forwarded. In fact I was annoyed when a comment wasn’t left as the comments give me things to consider changing. It made me quickly dis-illusion myself of my thoughts of my property as potential buyers did point out true flaws and yes the house initially was over-priced.

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