Drafted By: Melissa Kubek
When I first wrote this article, I wanted to touch on the 5 top complaints our clients have about us (Realtors®) when selling their homes. Upon further contemplation I decided to ditch the previous article and while staying true to the topic, I thought I would take this opportunity to also show the other side of the complaints…the Realtor’s® side and hopefully bridge the gap between the client and realtor in regards to the top 5 complaints clients have about their Realtors®.
Let’s get right to it shall we!
According to our many governing bodies in real estate (CREA, REBGV,RECBC, etc…) the top 5 complaints clients have about their realtors in regards to selling a home
1. Lack of Communication.
2. Over Promise – Under Deliver.
3. Lack of Knowledge of the Marketplace.
4. Client’s interests not protected.
5. Lack of Availability.
Over the next few weeks we’re going to dive into the world of real estate and take a look at each of these complaints in some depth.
Let’s now take a look at the first and greatest of the complaints the real estate industry receives in detail from both the Seller & Realtor’s® perspectives. At the end I offer 10 ways in which to avoid this dilemma.
1. Lack of communication is by far the greatest complaint that realtors receive. In any relationship, including those between Realtors® & their clients, good communication is a vital component to ensure the best possible opportunity for success. When a lack of communication occurs, especially in real estate, it often begins with something simple and subtle. From there it builds and what could likely have been easy to resolved in the moment has now become the ‘elephant in the room’.
For example: Over the years a large portion of my business has come from listing homes that previously were listed, however didn’t sell for one reason or another. These are known to Realtors® as “Expired Listings”. During the listing consultation with sellers, I will ask them several questions to get to know them better. Within this list are questions regarding their previous real estate experience, including questions such as: “ What did your last realtor do that you liked best?” (Sadly their response is typically “Nothing”); “What is something you wish your last agent would have done but didn’t do?” (their typical response is “I wish they had sold my house”) and then comes the question “Why do you believe your home didn’t sell?” (the response that follows this question usually follows one of two paths, leading to the same place… “The agent didn’t do anything to sell our home”, “We never heard from our agent, so we don’t know”). These two paths lead to the same place…there has been a breakdown in the communication!
Why did this happen? Although I can’t and won’t speak for all other realtors, I have taken enough courses/seminars, completed enough research and talked with enough realtors to confidently narrow down all of the excuses made by realtors into one word: embarrassment.
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What do I mean by embarrassment? Most Real Estate professionals begin their client/Realtor® relationship with the best of intentions. I personally don’t know of any Realtor® who begins a client/Realtor® relationship with low expectations. Most Realtors® want to meet or exceed the needs of their clients, wow them and give them the best possible real estate experience. So why then do these same Realtors® drop the ‘communication’ ball and disappoint their clients? They are embarrassed. Often a Realtor® will deliver great service until a Seller is in a real estate contract to list their home for sale as well as for the first week or two that follow the listing contract being signed. It’s a well known statistic that a home’s first 3-4 weeks on the market will be the busiest and after that showings & activity will taper off. When the activity tapers off, there is nothing for the Realtor® to report to the client and it’s around this time when the lack of communication begins. At first one week goes by…the client calls the realtor to see what’s going on with their home and why there haven’t been any showings. The Realtor® let’s them know that this is to be expected at this point and that showings will taper off as the weeks go by… but don’t worry, it only takes one buyer!
A few more weeks go by and the agent still hasn’t found a buyer for the seller’s home. Further more, the realtor hasn’t called their client to talk about this lack of interest and how to get strategic about finding a buyer. Instead, they don’t call their client thereby leaving their client thinking that they aren’t doing anything to get their home sold. Another week goes by and still the client has heard nothing from their agent and begins to feel frustrated with their agent & the process. Meanwhile, the agent may be doing their best to market their client’s home, following up with any Realtors® who have shown the home to get feedback, talking with other agents in the area, etc…however when none of these efforts are being communicated to the Seller, the Seller feels as though their realtor is doing nothing to get their home sold and they often begin feeling resentment and frustration.
A month has now gone by with little to no dialogue between the Seller and their agent and the agent is very aware of this lack of communication…it often weighs heavy on them by keeping them awake at night and keeping them stressed them during their days. This is where the embarrassment sets in for the agent… It’s been so long since they’ve talked with their client that they’re now embarrassed to contact them…and so they don’t call, instead they continue to hide out and secretly hope that a buyer will come to buy the home so the agent can still emerge as a victor. Meanwhile the client has no idea about their agent’s internal battle…nor do they care, they just want their home sold and now feel as though the agent whom they trust is not doing their job & is avoiding them. A few more months go by in this same way and by this point the client/Seller is beyond frustrated. Often at this point Sellers will request a cancellation of or unconditional release (they are two different forms with two different outcomes) from their contract, however if their contract is not set to expire for some time still and the brokerage won’t release them from it, then the Sellers must wait until the expiry date noted (All real estate contracts have a start and an end date. In the Metro & Greater Vancouver area contracts provided by the REBGV, these dates can be easily found near the top of page 1 of the MLS contract).
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I offer the following as 10 ways to avoid this all too common situation as the client:
1. Choose a Realtor® with systems in place!!!!! Ask me about the 25 very important questions to ask an agent before hiring them.
2. Choose a Realtor® who runs their business as a business (and not on the fly or by the seat of their pants…again choose a quality realtor with systems in place).
3. Don’t choose a realtor simply because you know them, are related to them, you’ve seen their billboards & bus/bus benches, think they’re the #1 agent in the area or your cousin’s best friend’s old roommate in college became one. For a lack of a better way of saying it, be ‘picky’ when choosing an agent to protect your financial assets. Realtors®, just like doctors and lawyers, are fiduciaries and as such have certain obligations & duties to protect their client’s best interests, keep confidentiality where legally required to do so and prioritize the needs of their clients, even above their own. Throughout the process of selling your home, your life will become somewhat of an open book (including your finances) and your realtor will help to navigate you through the turbulent highs & lows of a real estate transaction. Choosing the wrong agent can be costly and detrimental to the sale of your home. Choose this person wisely!
4. Choose a Realtor® with a great understanding of the local market!!!
5. Don’t choose a Realtor® based on how long they’ve been a licensed Realtor®. The length of time a Realtor® has held their license should never be a determining factor in choosing the agent to represent you. I know of many new agents who’s energy, innovation and determination to succeed far outweighs the experience of a longtime Realtor®. The length of time that a license is held does not mean that experienced agent is running a bonafide real estate business.
6. An experienced agent running a true real estate business (regardless if they are a single agent or on a team) with the hunger and desire to exceed their client’s expectations is/are a rare breed and are amazing to work with!
7. Don’t be afraid to interview more than one agent. Upon interviewing several agents, one or two agents will quickly stand out as the best fit for you. You wouldn’t know this if you only interview one agent.
8. A written testimonial is one thing, but why not take it a step further and ask to have a conversation with a couple of their past clients. By doing this, you can ask a head of time how their client felt about the level of communication with the agent and ask any of your other questions you may have about the agent in question.
9. Ask the agent you’re considering hiring how they intend to keep in touch with you and how they will stay accountable to you & the process of selling their home.
10. Have a conversation about expectations. What do you as the client expect of your Realtor®? What does your Realtor® expect of you? By learning about the expectations of both parties (client & Realtor®) you’ll be creating a base standard of expectations which is important in creating the best possible real estate experience.
Communication is key and if you’ve read my previous article about how 80% of the success in selling a home occurs prior to the home even being listed for sale on the MLS, then you can understand how choosing the right agent who will communicate well with you is a vital part of this 80%. Continue the discussion below in the comment section! I look forward to answering any questions or thoughts you may have about this topic!
Next Weekend we’ll take a look at complaint #2 When agents ‘over promise and under deliver’.
*This communication is not intended to induce a breach of an already existing agency agreement.
*RE/MAX resutls realty – Each office independently owned and operated.
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