Cell phones, beepers, backpacks and ball caps are just a few of the gifts from the 1990's. Fitness, once again became a priority and boy bands, the standard. The real estate industry was not overlooked in this generous time of change. It was during the early 1990's that states passed the law creating Buyers Agency.
Few subjects have been as passionately debated, vigorously supported, or eloquently defined in our industry. New organizations as well as companies formed around this exciting concept. In many ways it brought about an eternal buyers market. At no other time had buyers been given such a voice and Brokers such a platform.
It seems there are two schools of thought on this issue. One being Brokers who refuses to show anything without it, and those constantly waiting for the right time.
I fall somewhere in the middle.
Any professional wanting my business would be abruptly disappointed at any initial request of commitment without first proving competency. Just as I prefer the buyer to have some knowledge and confidence regarding the abilities of my team to represent them professionally in what just may be the most important purchase of their life.
In seven years, my approach has failed me twice. One more painful than the other. In retrospect, my transaction with both of those "customers" would have been extremely difficult if not impossible anyway.
So when explaining my policy regarding Buyers Agency to my team I apply this general rule of thumb:
1. First meeting is of course centered around the explanation of agency. As well as establishing a mutual comfort level. If they wish to proceed with signing, then do so. Conduct a Buyer's Interview to learn more about their goals as well as allow them to question the experience, knowledge, and objectives our of team. We always encourage our prospective clients to check our references. Next is the pre-approval discussion.
2. Second meeting most always consists of showing properties. Spending too much time in the office participating in a paperwork party is often very disappointing to a buyer who has already spent weeks, possibly months viewing photos of homes they wish to see. At this point a Realtor shows 2-3 homes, explaining how the viewing process portion of their home search. During the initial showing experience there are many "teaching moments" for the Realtor to emphasize the importance of buyer representation. My team is well versed in explaining the difference between a customer and a client.
3. Third meeting is the time I feel we have given the buyer plenty of time and opportunity to evaluate a prospective Realtor. We review the advantages of obtaining buyer representation. We once again outline the entire process, allowing for questions. At this point, if they are unprepared and/or unwilling to sign an agreement, I encourage my team to graciously explain to them that our busy schedule only allows for minimum time with customers. We present our menu of services for customers (not clients) and allow them to make a choice.
The bulk of our my time and energy belongs to clients.
I don't encourage the practice of signing any agreement just to have it signed. It is clearly a benefit to the buyer and establishes a professional relationship. When appropriately defined and presented, buyers immediately see the advantage and often appreciate the opportunity. Brokers must know and demonstrate their worth as professionals. The Buyers Agency agreement is an excellent way to do just that!