Agent

How to ruin your buyer’s agent reputation in 5 easy steps

Be courteous, and always be aware of your clients' actions
  • When mistakes happen, own up to them and treat everyone involved with respect.

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Hopping mad listing agents are known to take to real estate Facebook groups to vent before their heads actually explode.

I’ve been there. I get it.

I fully admit there have been times where I wondered if orange was going to become my new black after more than one particularly trying experience.

In countless office meetings, various publications to which we subscribe and conversations with fellow agents, we have all heard stories of buyer’s agent behaviors that make you face palm in disgust.

As many of these unwanted behaviors have been reoccurring ad nauseam, I have created a top five list of how to completely destroy a relationship with a listing agent before you have even submitted an offer.

If your goal is to be the most hated buyer’s agent at your next local real estate association meeting, here is a list of how to make that dream a reality.

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1. Don’t schedule showings — just show up and walk on in

Picture the scene: A homeowner, who is not expecting anyone, is naked and in the shower when an agent barges in to “check out” the master bathroom. The client, after he stops screaming in anger and fright, asks the agent why he didn’t make an appointment.

The agent simply says, “I’m sorry, I thought the house was vacant.”

In this case, the listing didn’t say it was vacant; the showing instructions said to call the owners for an appointment so they could make arrangements to remove their dogs before viewing.

Vacant or not, please read and follow the showing instructions. If the instructions aren’t clear to you, then call the listing agent — and get them clarified.

2. ‘I know I don’t have an appointment, but I need to see your listing — now.’

Here’s another scenario: You and your clients are driving through a neighborhood looking at homes, and you stumble over a different property that your client would like to see. You pull it up on your phone and see it requires advanced notice.

What do you do?

If you are already planning to see more houses on another day, add it to your list for then. If your client asks you to call and see if you can try to get them in, as they are from out of town and this is the only day possible, then give it a try.

Buyers’ agents, please understand the listing agent is probably not going to be too happy about the request. If the sellers didn’t have a good reason, they wouldn’t be asking for advanced showing notice.

So, if you absolutely have to find out if this showing may work out for everyone, please use the following tips for mitigating the possible verbal explosion from the listing agent:

First, acknowledge and apologize for the very short notice. Explain that you and your client were just driving by looking at another home, and you happened to drive past their listing — it looks lovely by the way (add a little flattery … it goes a long way!) And because your client asked you to try (emphasis on try), you are calling to see if there is any possible way to see the home at some point today.

For the love of Mike, please don’t call the listing agent, and say, “Hey, we are in the driveway, and we want to see your listing — now.” That’s rude, and it implies you believe your time is more valuable than everyone else’s.

If the listing agent says, “sorry, but no,” then respond with courtesy: “No worries! I didn’t expect it to work out, but we thought we would try, just in case. Thank you for your time.”

Always thank listing agents for their time, and be polite. Do not argue with them or try to explain why they should let you in immediately. It’s not going to change the outcome, and it may affect your ability to see the home in the future.

If you are this pushy and rude now, they will understandably worry about what sort of behavior to expect from you in the case of a ratified contract.

Your rude behavior could certainly hurt your clients’ chances of getting a home, especially in cases where there are multiple offers on the table.

3. Wait, I needed to lock all of the doors?

Along the same line, a number of Facebook agent-only groups are getting what seems to be a record number of rants about agents not locking doors after showings.

In some instances, people leave doors not only unlocked but also wide open. Leaving doors open or unlocked is never acceptable — at best, you are going to receive a very angry call from an unhappy listing agent who just got screamed at by an irate seller, and at worst, the buyers could return home to a crime scene.

Vacant homes are particularly susceptible to theft and vandalism that often will not be covered by insurance premiums if there is no sign of a forced entry. This is another reason using a SentriLock-style lockbox is important — you will know who the last person in was and who to call if something is amiss.

There also may be times when you have key issues. I have had more than one occasion when the door took me five minutes of swearing and key jiggling to finally have it decide to grant me access.

Upon exiting, I wasn’t able to lock the door. Luckily, when this happened, I was able to lock the door from the inside and use a different door to exit.

If this happens, please call the listing agent as soon as possible and tell them about your problem. If no one tells them there is an issue with the key or the lock, they can’t fix it.

4. Wait, I’m responsible for the great toilet explosion of 2015?

A few years ago, I heard a story about an agent showing a listing to a lovely young family and their 5-year-old son, Jimmy.

At some point in the showing, the parents and the agent lost track of Jimmy, who decided to entertain himself by flushing his toy soldiers down the upstairs toilet.

The toilet overflowed and created a giant mess. When the owners returned, water was pouring through the ceiling. The agent claimed no knowledge of the Noah-sized disaster that caused thousands of dollars in water damage.

Regardless, the time you are in someone else’s home with your clients makes you responsible for their actions. This is called vicarious liability, and it is possible for you to also be sued for the damaging actions of your clients.

Long story short, if your client accidentally clogs a toilet, or the cat snuck through the door when you came in, try to mitigate the damage, own up to it, and let the listing agent know.

Take responsibility for your clients’ actions, and watch them when they are in the house. It’s always easier to prevent damage than to have to rectify it after the fact.

5. ‘Feedback? You don’t need no stinkin’ feedback.’

Think of feedback as constructive criticism (remember: constructive). If the house was dirty and had a flooded basement with a decomposing rat floating in the uncovered sump pump, report those unfavorable findings.

Just don’t be rude about it.

Refrain from judgmental words like “barf-inducing,” and if it’s really that awful, you may want to pick up the phone and have a candid talk with the listing agent. He or she is probably already aware of the problem and could use someone to commiserate with.

Also, if you see something concerning happening in a listing that you think the listing agent may not know about, pick up the phone.

For example, a few years ago, I walked into a tenant-occupied home with my clients and found the tenants poorly hidden “grow room” in an upstairs closet. I thought that was information the listing agent may really need to know as it concerned illegal activity in the home.

Most of these agent mistakes and issues can be easily avoided with a little extra due diligence and common courtesy and respect for listing agents and their clients.

Always be aware of your clients’ actions, and remember that you could be held accountable in a court of law for them, as well.

Things will go wrong — after all, nobody is perfect. When mistakes happen, apologize, and find a way to rectify the situation. By being courteous, understanding and having empathy for all of the parties in a transaction, you can be the buyer’s agent every listing agent wants to work with.

Maria Dampman is the owner and manager of Smiling Cat Farm and a Virginia State licensed Realtor and ABR with Century 21 Redwood in Leesburg, Virginia. Visit her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Email Maria Dampman