For the past several years, I have had an idea that I think would help to level the playing field a bit for real estate agents in any market. I have shared this with many of my personal clients, but never publicly...until now.
Consider this: When you are working with buyer clients, and they are interested in making an offer on a property, you then contact the listing agent to let them know, right? You might request a seller's disclosure, or a survey, or both, along with asking a few other questions.
How many times have you heard one of these phrases from a listing agent at that point:
"We have another offer coming."
"I am expecting at least one other offer."
"I just got another offer. I will present yours and theirs at the same time."
At this point, you have no proof that any other offers exist, correct? You must depend on the ethics and honesty of the other agent. Let's face it - this is awkward sometimes. I can't even count the number of times that I later figured out that the listing agent was CLEARLY lying about other offers. In fact, there is one guy here in Austin who is notorious for saying one of the above phrases EVERY time that he gets an offer in hand, so much so that I was able to tell my clients not to even give it a second thought. Sad commentary, huh?
But how could we solve this, you ask?
Simply put, I think we need a third-party clearinghouse service for offers. Nothing horribly complex, just a service to track whether a specific property has any current offers in place.
I think it would be amazing to be able to log in to a simple website, look up a property and see a field with "OFFERS" and perhaps just a number there. If you see a "0", you would know that the property is fully unencumbered and available. If you see a number, you can use this to help your clients make the strongest offer that they are comfortable making.
Since there are over 1 million Realtors now (I think), NAR is collecting a ton of money at this point. This seems like the type of service that should already be included in our dues, in my humble opinion. At least then I would begin to feel like I was getting some actual value for that payment.
The only objection I can think of from listing agents would be the amount of time involved if you have to register each offer with the service. I understand this, since it couldn't just be a simple email or text message. Instead, some valid proof would have to be provided to the third-party service involved.
Think about this - we could even be heralded for creating new jobs for the staffers of this newly created company! Real estate heroes! Additionally, our integrity index with the public would go WAY up, since we would be demonstrating to the world how honest and accountable we now are as an industry, at least with regard to price negotiations.
You would never again have to hear a client say, "I wonder if we could have gotten it for less. Maybe we offered too much. I wonder if they even HAD any other offers on the table."
It's just an idea, but I think it has real merit.
Thanks for reading!
UPDATED: After reading some of the comments below, I'm not sure if this would be the perfect method or not, but I do sincerely think a better system could be implemented, giving all of us a leg up in the respect department with consumers.
A couple of ideas: As Alan May mentioned in his comment, he would be comfortable knowing that the broker in charge had reviewed the offer situation and that the buyer's agent's broker could confirm that directly, including allowing for some extra questions that could be posed.
I am starting to think that if a third party system of any sort were implemented, the offers should go DIRECTLY to that service first, eliminating the gamesmanship completely (fake offers, etc.). Keep in mind that this wouldn't create ANY extra work for agents, but everyone would be on a level playing field.
My RSS feed is http://activerain.com/jasoncrouch/rss.