George Bush used to say: I'm the Decider.
Well...the real estate version of this...grrrr...is when the SELLER decides to become: "I'm the Decliner." AKA: Mr. Decliner.
While I personally don't have any skin in the game as an objective fiduciary, I will forever be dismayed at the lack of communication and the faulty design of the communication process when a buyer requests to see a home, and Mr. Decliner declines the request, no reason is given, nor is anything put into context.
It's even worse when a 3rd party showing service is in the mix, as while these places are very good at being efficient, I do believe it makes it easier for this request to quietly go away easily, unresolved, much to the dismay of the buyer.
Moreover, what adds insult to injury and is the most typical outcome (in my personal experience) is:
The listing agent never calls Mr. Decliner, nor the buyer's agent to try and see if a confirmed showing can somehow be the end result.
I think if an operations research analyst, a performance analyst, a process design engineer, or a customer service help desk designer were to evaluate this process, the process would be so chocked full of holes it it would be laughable.
But guess what: The buyer isn't laughing, they are ticked that a home that is supposedly for sale:
- Can't be seen
- No explanation is given as to why
- The listing agent is nowhere to be found in the process
- If a 3rd party showing service is involved, they have delivered the final blow to the buyer's agent and marked this open ticket request closed
- The buyer wasted minutes of their time previewing the property online and decided to save it as a favorite
- The buyer's agent took their buyer's list and mapped out an efficient schedule to benefit everyone involved
The issue just goes away quietly.
Why the listing agent doesn't intercede at all is beyond comprehension.
There is an old saying: You don't get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.
I have had many a buyer tell me:
Think about it: Say you are trying to schedule a well visit with your mechanic to get the oil changed on your car. You call the shop and ask if they have an opening on Friday between 2-3pm. The mechanic will either say yes, and confirm, or no, and: PROPOSE ANOTHER TIME. Could you imagine if the mechanic simply said: NO, and ended the phone conversation, and the conversation ended without setting up an appointment? Absurd, I know, it wouldn't happen, but this DOES happen with real estate showing requests every single day.
And, this is a choke point or flaw in the showing process when 3rd party showing services are used. I love them as a buyer's agent, but it makes resolution of this issue (and it is a very important issue) more complicated, more likely to go unresolved then if a listing agent were directly involved as they, ultimately, have the responsibility to ensure showings occur.
It just happened to me 5 minutes ago, not once, but TWICE, for two different buyer!
I am setting up tours of many homes for two different buyers. Invariably, no matter how much planning, forethought and efficiencies are incorporated to ensure a smooth travel itinerary is achieved and the buyer gets to see the homes they want in a timely fashion, there is always one or two NOs or COUNTER-PROPOSALS.
The challenge as a buyer's agent is if you are showing 12 homes and the seller who is 5th on the list says:
Can you come an hour earlier or an hour later?
What they may not realize (if their listing agent hasn't communicated properly with Mr. Decliner) is that it is a HUGE deal for a buyer's agent to try and revamp a schedule as sometimes, EVERYTHING needs to get shifted around, or you may end up at the end of the tour 20 miles away, having to drive all the way back to see Mr. Decliner's home.
Before anyone jumps on the bandwagon of: there are many VALID reasons why sellers rightfully so decline showings -- I get that, and that is not the focus of this post. Even if there is a valid reason, this request should not quickly dissolve into oblivion.
The buyer's agent should receive a call from the listing agent saying: let's figure out together how we can get your buyer into Mr. Decliner's home and not only that, but bend over backwards to make it happen, regardless of market conditions, as, after all, Market Value is driven by exposure and exposure isn't going to be achieved without boots going through the front door.
I can tell you one thing, even before I decide to take a listing, I have a very involved conversation with my sellers on what my expectations are for them, we have a strong and mutual understanding of what each party's role in this process is, and in the RARE event they need to decline a showing, I have already tried to figure out a PLAN B with my seller BEFORE I call the buyer's agent back to try and figure out how to make this work. Rarely have I had an issue with showings as the expectation was already set.
It's the least we can do for our clients. Anything less, is doing our clients a disservice.
PS. This not a rant against showing services, they aren't the focus of this post. This is also not a rant against all listing agents, some do call and diligently try and help solve the issue. To keep a balanced perspective, again, I understand there are valid reasons to decline a showing. That said, to let the issue simply go away is completely unacceptable and it certainly won't happen on my listings, although I run into it on a frequent enough basis that it made me think of that old saying: