By George L. Ballou, II
Menton and Ballou Group
Broker Associate at Watson Realty Corp.
I have been in the real estate business for over 30 years. During that time, I have seen astonishing advances in information and communication technology. I remember when fax machines first hit real estate offices
in the mid 1980’s, cell phones as big as your arm, no one had a desktop or a laptop computer, no websites, no Google or Facebook, no emails or texts and so on. Fast forward to today and communication is nearly instant…so why have some things not improved? Perhaps only Sellers and their Agents will be able to relate to this article but I hope it will help everyone see what goes on behind the curtain…
I might have started this conversation by going the long way around the barn but I have something to say about an element of our industry that hasn’t gotten better despite these state of the art improvements… so here is my concern! Anyone who has ever listed their house for sale or been a listing agent knows exactly what I am about to say. One of the worst experiences for a seller is preparing for a showing on their home only to have the agent never show, show up late even after giving them a 1-2 hour window, or finally having them show but then they never respond to requests for Feedback afterward!
The seller has cleaned and straightened up their house, found temporary places for the pets and kids, figured out where to go when it is 95 outside and now is anxiously hoping for a positive outcome. This process begins with the agent showing up when scheduled and then waiting to hear what the buyer had to say about their home. How in this age of instant communication can agents not have the courtesy to at least call and say they are not coming or they are late? How can they never respond to a Feedback Request from the listing agent. The public doesn’t know this but the showing agent gets requests for Feedback electronically every 24 hours for days after the showing…it’s impossible for them to miss. How can this be happening?
I have come to the following unfortunate conclusion; either no one has trained these agents so they don’t know any better or they are in such a panic they may lose a sale they forget they are in charge of this process instead of vice versa. Since 2012 the number of agents in this local market has increased in the MLS by over 60%... almost 3,000 additional new agents! There are too many agents not being trained properly or at all! If I were speaking to a group of fellow agents their defense would be that buyers sometimes say when they get there “I don’t like this house…let’s go to the next house” or “I have 10 houses to show them and there is always something that gets us off schedule” or “My buyers saw so many houses they didn’t really give me any specific Feedback”. I actually had an agent tell me when I finally called him for Feedback “I am busy. Not responding should have told you we aren’t interested”. That’s not how it works!
When a professional agent shows a buyer a home and they say, “I don’t like the house let’s skip it” a well-trained agent handles the situation this way… “These sellers have taken the time to prepare their house for us. Out of courtesy we need to at least go in and take a quick look around…you never know what we might see”. I have never had a customer say no to that comment. Agents often feel that being off schedule is just a given when showing so many houses so we should learn to deal with it! First of all, it’s a fools mission to show buyers so many houses in a day? It is the rare buyer who can remember which house had a horse in the living room once they have seen more than 5-6 houses. If the buyers saw so many houses they couldn’t really give you Feedback then what was the point of showing them so many. This comes down to taking control of the client and the process and doing what is best for them even when they are clamoring for more. You are the trained expert. You have a responsibility to both the buyer and the seller. Every buyer thinks he needs to see as many houses as he can but a focused search based upon interviewing them properly will allow you to reduce the number of “fake” showings to the 5-6 that are actually relevant to what they really want to see. If you have a few 2 story homes booked only to find out once they are in the car they don’t want to see any 2 story houses that situation could have been prevented by doing your homework before you made the schedule out. There is no excuse for this poor level of preparation and service.
Don’t get me wrong, I have made every mistake I have just mentioned and so have some of the best agents I know. However, those who do well in this business and are respected by their peers learned a long time ago to adjust their approach to showing houses so that it becomes less frantic and a more productive experience for everyone involved.
Sellers need to be shown more respect. Buyers are expecting you to take charge. Our industry suffers when we fail to demonstrate our professionalism.
Just sharing a few thoughts….
Local Authors & Experts for St. Johns Magazine