Recently, I had the opportunity to work with some homebuyers who had an experience with another buyer’s agent a few weeks before the holidays. They called me because, as they put it, there were things the other agent had done that made them feel she was not looking out for their best interests. I think these are useful lessons for all of us when working with homebuyers to solidify a relationship that will last beyond the sale.
1. “They showed me only their listings!” I hear this frequently. The great thing about IDX on my site is that it will allow homebuyers to look at everything on the market for sale! I would jeopardize my business if I drove buyers past only my listings while touring a possible new neighborhood. Sure, we may have a listing or two that could fit the buyers perfectly, but those buyers are in the car with me because they want representation for themselves, not because they wanted to jump in the car with a listing agent representing a seller!
We have not practiced dual agency in our market for a long while, so who are we representing when the buyer is with us? That needs to lead our decisions. I think it lowers our reputation and professional perception — or maybe solidifies negative ideas in some minds — when we appear to look out for ourselves more than the buyer.
2. “They showed us only listings that we found.” This was something that came up over and over again as we were driving around looking at homes in my two days in the car with these particular buyers. They kept noting that the other agent had not shown them any listings other than the ones they had found themselves. They felt that a real estate agent should assist in helping them in terms of finding homes that might fit their criteria, not just taxi them around to what they had to dig up on their own!
3. “They didn’t offer any local knowledge.” When these buyers called me about working with them, we discussed what they were looking for and what was important in a home purchase. Good schools were high on the list. When they told me the address of their favorite listing so far, which they had seen a few weeks earlier, I had to wonder why they were looking in that particular school district — because I know the area schools’ ratings and reviews.
Why not at least provide links to websites that would provide buyers with ratings and reviews for different schools systems? Yes, let the buyers make their own decisions, but it’s your job to provide any public information that can guide them. When Zillow is readily showing GreatSchools.org ratings on their listings, how silly does it look if we as agents act standoffish about providing links and a little local knowledge? Aren’t we always asking our clients to come to us for local knowledge? Then give it!
4. “They argued with me about my offer.” It should go without saying that it is not a great idea to argue with a buyer about the terms of an offer! These buyers told me that they wanted to offer less than their previous agent felt was reasonable for their favorite listing. The discussion came to the point of shouting because they got so frustrated with the agent and the agent with them. They also told me that it seemed as though the agent was pushing them into that listing to get a sale.
I have found that while we should advise and share our experience regarding what homes are selling for in a given neighborhood or market, that conversation should never get confrontational!
The net effect of all of this is that I took these buyers out with me, showed them resources to understand local school districts on their own, and then showed them homes that I knew might meet their needs apart from what they had found on Zillow. They told me that they felt like they were finally looking at the homes in the right school districts, closer to work, that truly met their needs — and not just random houses.
Show homebuyers that you work for them, and you will earn their business every time — and build a long-term relationship after the sale!
Hank Bailey is an associate broker with Re/Max Legends and a Realtor for more than a decade who provides buyer’s agent representation and seller listing services related to residential real estate.