At the end of a long day of showing properties, you walk in the door of your home, plug your cell phone into the charger and notice that you have seven new emails from listing agents asking for feedback.
I’ll do it tomorrow, you think. Giving those agents feedback on their listings isn’t a priority, and so the emails sit in your inbox unread over the next couple of days. Then Monday rolls around, and the feedback emails are now buried. You’re busy with negotiations and other work.
Before you know it, three months have passed, and the shoe is on the other foot: you have a listing that just won’t sell. Buyer’s agents from the showings haven’t responded to your emails, phone calls or texts asking for feedback, and the owners are questioning why the house isn’t selling. You wish you had buyer feedback to give.
Personally, you think the sellers should lose those awful red drapes and dark paint that makes the space feel small. You tried articulating this, but because the feedback came from you, the sellers did not receive it well. You know that if these thoughts came from prospective buyers, they would fare better.
Listing feedback may seem like a simple thing, but it’s easy to deprioritize when you’re on the buyer end — and take for granted when working on behalf of a seller. There is an art to gathering reactions and insights that are helpful to property owners and listing agents — and real value in providing it.
Here are few hints and ideas for gathering feedback when you’re on the seller side and building a reputation for professionalism when you’re in the buyer’s corner.
When I first got into the business, caravans — a method that involves inviting agents into a series of homes to attract more homebuyer matches and garner feedback — were a big thing. The responses listing agents would get from industry professionals helped make necessary adjustments to ultimately sell the home.
Caravans still exist, but are less popular than they once were, and so the busiest agents tend to skip them. Without caravans, the next best option is open houses.
Make the most of open houses
Open houses can be very hit or miss. The format doesn’t actively encourage honest feedback: many visitors will simply say the property is “nice” and not much more, when prompted for what they think.
I have seen a few of my agents successfully push beyond such tepid comments by doing random drawings or circulating an information sheet with a few open-ended questions. A good example: “What is one thing you would change about this house?”
Balance honesty and tact
To leave helpful feedback, we need to have the frame of mind that we are helping our industry colleagues. This means being honest. You won’t do anyone any favors with hollow one-liners like “showed well” or “buyers didn’t like.” Try to offer constructive, specific suggestions.
To soften feedback, you can also frame a comment through your buyer’s point of view: “The buyers mentioned it felt dated to them and expressed concern that the property would need too many costly upgrades.”
Another helpful and easy way to leave feedback is by comparing the property to the other houses you saw. Direct competition can spur thoughtful adjustments through comments like “Buyers liked the layout, but preferred two comps with similar floorplans and square footage that were lower in price and had better amenities.”
At the end of the day, the feedback loop comes down to the need to recognize how important professional courtesy is to our industry. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If you get into the habit of leaving feedback, you will gain a reputation for professionalism that opens dialogue, broadens your network, and ultimately, boosts your bottom line.
We all get caught up in our personal deals and businesses, but taking the time to leave feedback can be extremely helpful to both the individual listing and our industry as a whole. Now more than ever, we need to support the industry and continue to show the value of real estate agents.
Dan McCarthy is the broker/owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Lifestyles Realty in Jacksonville Florida. Follow him on Twitter.