A few days ago I read a blog by JMac on Active Rain that really hit home. Integrity…maybe the missing link in real estate…for everyone. The post described how trust was something that had to be earned on both sides of a real estate transaction. An agent needs to trust their client just as much as a client – whether they are a buyer or seller - needs to trust the agent.
When posting in the comment thread, I described it as the vicious cycle vs. the virtuous circle. Trust is hard because so many people are indeed dishonest. There are times where I feel like I’m shooting craps when I take on a new client, with the odds stacked against me in the trust department. Sadly, I’m often quite certain that the client has the same issue with me.
From the agent’s standpoint…
….it goes something like this: potential buyers and sellers approach the agent for advice and help. We generally respond with a few questions of our own. One of the first is “Are you working with another agent?” If the answer is “no” then we proceed forward, if the answer is “yes” a ton of red flags pop up. But I have found lately that buyers who are eager to see a property have gotten wise to that filter and are out- and-out lying. The truth gets ferreted out when I present them with a contract that ties them to me for the properties I am showing them. Why do I present them with a contract? Because I’ve been burned too many times before.
Last year I had a buyer/seller who I elected to trust for two showings. He was all excited about what he was seeing and was ready to list the house that had become an albatross around his neck. I showed him that there were alternatives. After hours of leg work including two weekends, cost of living comparisons and a ton of research, the client disappeared. When I checked back in and he told me that he had a “great deal of loyalty to a particular agent and had given the listing to her.” Of course she was all set to snag the other side of the deal that I had spent many hours paving the way for. Since the homes I showed would probably not be on the market by the time his home sold I was out of luck. Bottom line, he had no intention of using me for anything.
You can see why a few consumers like this tend to destroy even the most trusting nature. The truth is, as much as I would like to trust my buyers from the get-go, I can’t because this type of behavior is more common than most people think. Since we are only paid when we close a sale, it becomes a huge problem. Buyers in particular need to understand that this is how we pay our bills, keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table. This is someone’s livelihood that is being played with. Also, when there are several agents involved with one client – someone has to lose in order for me to win. Not good karma.
From the consumer’s standpoint…
Anything that is dime a dozen, and agents collectively fall into that category due to our sheer numbers, is not valued. The fact that we are a dime a dozen creates an atmosphere of competition where the consumer feels assaulted by hoards of agents when they are simply making tentative inquiries. Being treated like shark chum is not going to engender a sense of respect or even consideration.
Agent integrity is also an issue…
There are way too many agents in the “ethically challenged” category for comfort. The day after I read JMac’s blog I was at a neighborhood tag sale. I stopped by a friend’s house and suddenly an agent (who I recognized as a pre-crash house-flipper) appeared out of nowhere and was obviously milking the tag sale for all it was worth. In this case she was making offers on homes in the area that obviously were in need of some rehab.
My friend isn’t at all interested in selling, but has a home that though lovely, needs modernizing. The perfect candidate for a flipper trying to get a rock bottom price. She was all over my friend like a bad rash, suggesting that if she ever wanted to sell – to call because she wanted to move back into the neighborhood….from three blocks away. Yeah, right. She was also asking about other homes that she might make offers on that were not on the market. “The one across the street would be perfect for my parents because its a ranch.”
Look, I’m not against flippers. Its hard work. But be honest and upfront. You are looking for a steal not a deal to make a nice profit for yourself. When agents behave this way, trust is destroyed on the consumer side of the equation.
All suffer because of a few bad apples…
Most of us do NOT behave this way, but there are enough agents out there that totally disrespect the consumer and this breeds contempt for all in the business. Then I feel abused when a buyer (or seller) out and out lies about their intentions in order to get something out of me – and the cycle continues.
© 2012 – Ruthmarie G. Hicks – http://thewestchesterview.com – All rights reserved.