I'm sure this blog is going to get lots of folks up in arms but I am tired of reading over and over again of how agents are refusing to WORK without:
1. an agency agreement
2. a buyer prequalification letter
This seems absolutely CRAZY. In this economy, I don't know how anyone can honestly make such demands when buyers are seemingly scarce and there are so many HOMES for sale. What are you thinking? I recently met with buyers from So. Cal. and they turned out to be wonderful people, well-qualified and ready, willing and able to purchase. I did not ask them for a letter of prequalification or to sign an exclusive agency agreement with me. There is absolutely no way that I would have made these types of demands on our first meeting and if I had, they likely would have walked out. Consequently, we spent 9 1/2 hours together, looking, talking, and establishing a relationship in which they feel comfortable and confident that I am the right broker for them.
Ironically, my brother was looking at condos in Portland at the same time. He found a neighborhood he was interested in and went to the sales office to inquire. The first words out of the listing broker's mouth were "Let me introduce to you to our mortgage dept. As soon as we get you qualified, I'll start showing you the listings we have available". My brother promptly told him he just wanted to see if this property was a good fit for what he was looking for and that he wasn't ready to sit down with a mortgage broker. The agent REFUSED to show him anything. Again, my brother (ready, willing and able) would have likely bought from a broker who did not push, did not demand but showed him that his business was valued and that he was thought of as more than a paycheck.
Don't get me wrong, I understand about protecting our business, our sellers and not letting buyer's waste our time. A skilled broker should be able to ascertain loyalty and qualifications to purchase from simple conversation rather than dictating a protocol for the industry that is frankly, giving the impression that we are only interested in serving our needs rather than the needs of our clients. Not all clients are ready to make the leap on day one. Does that mean that they don't deserve our time?
I remember when I first became licensed, deals could take months and the entertaining of clients through multiple weekends of showings. It involved an investment of time and energy from the agent/broker and an established relationship of trust. Buyers didn't just show up, decide you were the one and start signing away on the most important investment of their lives. Occasionally, you would get one that did waste your time and you learned from it. You learned what questions to ask and when to ask them. You had to WORK to get deals and clients, they weren't handed to you. And you know what, the buyers that were serious remembered you and how you treated them and they came back, over and over again.
I personally think that making these types of demands on new clients is like putting a "Closed for Business" sign in your window. It's kinda like refusing to show someone a menu until they have agreed to use you for their order and also opened the contents of their wallet, to prove to you they can pay. Doesn't seem like very good customer service to me. Do what you need to do, but know that all those "unwilling, unqualified clients" are coming to brokers like me and getting the service they deserve. I'll take my chances that most of them have better things to do with their time than waste mine.