We're Professionals, not Easy Buttons

By
Mortgage and Lending with Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA, NMLS #138061 MMCD #1141

We're Professionals, Not Easy Buttons

 

I lost a deal recently (or may have, stay tuned) when a repeat customer called me on a Friday afternoon to check to get a preapproval for a home he was going to see the following day.  I could do it.  But I didn't.  Instead, I advised him to call another lender to help.  

Last month, the same borrower called me on a Friday, explaining he needed a preapproval letter for a home his in-laws were looking at the following Saturday.  I helped, but let him know:


"I need you to give me some notice when you know someone's going to be looking at homes.  I tremendously appreciate you keeping my in mind and for the continued support of our business, but we need time to work with our borrowers, go over options, take an application, and ensure they are truly preapproved.  We can't always do this instantly."


Setting boundaries in business is something we often avoid out of fear - the fear that someone else will not set boundaries, and thus get business at your expense.  My response?  Let them.  Top producers around the country understand the need for work-life balance.  It helps them avoid burnout, and they remain top producers, though sure, they occasionally "lose" business.  But let me pose the question "do you want to work with a customer that will leave you the moment you're not available 'on demand'?".  

 

My answer is no.  Because that's the type of client that will ditch me after locking into a rate because the market drops rates by .125.  As an agent, that's the type of client that will leave you for another agent because you try to plan a weekend away for your anniversary, or because you're unavailable during a family emergency.  In short, they don't value you, or your profession.  They want an easy button, not a professional.  As the world's collective attention span shrinks, we see more people behave this way, however, it's often a lack of understanding more than a sense of urgency.

 

In the lending world, you know you're going to refinance, or know you're considering buying a house at LEAST days before actually going to see a home.  And the reality is, with a full preapproval, you increase your odds as a buyer of getting an offer accepted when you do find the right home - you don't lose out, and I don't lose time - it ends up being a true win-win.

 

The time to contact a real estate agent to enure success is as soon as you think you may be buying or selling real estate in the future.  The time to contact a lender is as soon as you realize you may at some point need a loan.  Not the day before.  Not with hours notice.  The best in the business won't respond, or (best case) they'll delegate you to someone else.  Sometimes, maybe you'll get lucky, but the best of the best are true professionals with systems created for their business.  They simply don't have the time to stare at the phone, fingers crossed, hoping you'll call and need a last minute preapproval on a Friday night - they're busy working with customers that reached out in advance, working out a plan to ensure success.

 

Realtors, lenders, and anyone in a sales & service capacity needs to have boundaries. Boundaries avoid burnout, allow work-life balance, and create an environment of better service, and the scaled growth that a professional wants in their life.  Best of all, it creates an environment where your customers are respectful, and appreciative VS having a book of business that's demanding and unrealistic.  For best results, be a professional, not an easy button!

 

Oh, and that deal I "lost" to another lender that jumped last minute to do a pre-approval on a Friday night for a Saturday showing?  The deal fell apart, and the customer came back to our team to help with their next transaction.  I got the deal, and my freedom on a Friday night.  Not a bad deal!

Comments (34)

Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector
SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno - Bourbonnais, IL
The Home Inspector With a Heart!

I've said it before, somethimes the best deal is the one you pass on. If it smells funny or has a bad feeling in your gut, listen to your gut. 

Mar 10, 2021 03:20 PM
John Meussner

That rarely ends up being the wrong decision.  Great input, Scott.

Mar 10, 2021 03:53 PM
CANDACE (Candy) STEVENS, EA
Number Cruncher LLC - Overton, NV
Helping Taxpayers Resolve IRS problems

It is so true.  We must set boundaries or our clients will walk all over us.

Thank you for sharing.  

Mar 10, 2021 07:49 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Well said, John. Setting boundaries and expectations is important.

And you post, and week, ended on a positive note - good for you!

Jeff

Mar 10, 2021 10:29 PM
Chad Felter
Virginia Beach, VA
Providing service through out Hampton Roads

Well...My perspective is...

I get paid to be other people's "Easy Button" that's what we do.

It's the nitch I have carved out over the years.

To be available, present and acommodating to each indivual situation no matter how it interupts my flow. As long as it does not undermine any other opportunity , I feel I have to be attentive to the clients needs. End of story.

My wife (Title Insurance Underwriter) is the same way. 9 to 5 she takes all calls and answers all emails immediately. No matter how disruptive to her day it may be at that moment. People love that and her business thrives because of it.

That's just my cookie for the jar.

Everyone...Have a great Day! We all deserve it!

Mar 11, 2021 03:16 AM
John Meussner

I couldn't do it - again, when starting out, I sure did.  But now I have weekends, holidays, evenings, a social life, and my business has thrived.  Different strokes for different folks!

Mar 11, 2021 01:15 PM
Sham Reddy CRS
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH
CRS

Great advice, thanks for sharing!

Realtors, lenders, and anyone in a sales & service capacity needs to have boundaries. Boundaries avoid burnout, allow work-life balance, and create an environment of better service, and the scaled growth that a professional wants in their life.

Mar 11, 2021 04:19 AM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

John, I agree completely with your comments. 

I have a newer agent who is getting a new listing and wanted me to help her do a quick market analysis to see what the value was.

I asked if she had been in the house and it had been a few years.  I told I would be happy to go with her to view the home inside and out and THEN do a CMA.

Who knows what has gone on in those 2 years with the condition of the home...positive or negative wise.

SO we will go in next week.  I never quote prices or market values ever...on anything I do not know the back story on...ie:  just what you discussed above.  

Mar 11, 2021 09:26 AM
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

Amen to this. Great post.

Mar 11, 2021 10:29 AM
Don Baker
Lane Realty - Eatonton, GA
Lake Sinclair Specialist

You probably wouldn't like me much either.  I have asked a lot for one in a hurry.  Not so much in this market, but when there were plenty of homes to see.... you sometimes didn't know until you knew.  And I'm a fan of the letter matching the offer, not showing their buying power is much more.

Mar 11, 2021 12:36 PM
John Meussner

The alternative response to this is "oh, looks like the buyer barely qualifies, we'll work with someone preapproved for more" - neither is 100% the right answer, but matching the offer with preapproval is unnecessary, so common that listing agents generally know it's not a coincidence.  Don't get me wrong, I help people all the time last minute and in urgent situations, but it should never become the norm - if you're going to refer customers, the earlier you refer them the better it is for everyone, including the most important person, the buyer : )

Mar 11, 2021 01:18 PM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Could not agree with setting boundaries more.  Great post!

Mar 11, 2021 07:26 PM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Featured in the group:  BARTENDER, MAKE IT A DOUBLE.

Mar 11, 2021 07:27 PM
John Meussner

woohoo, one of my favorite groups : )

Mar 12, 2021 12:44 PM
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

It is annoying to me when people expect to be served by a professional at a moment's notice.     Last week, someone I didn't know at all, was parked in front of a real estate sign and called our office.    She asked me to show her the property immediately "because she was there."    I tried to explain our local COVID 19 showing protocol didn't work that quickly - and that there weren't any appointments available that day.    I explained I was showing it later that day, having already made the appointment with my client who had already signed the COVID 19 form, and that I could answer any of her questions after seeing it myself, and then we could set an appointment.    She basically hung up.     At this stage of my career, and especially in this market, I simply am not the "easy button" she wanted.    My guess is she would have wasted my time.

Mar 12, 2021 11:04 AM
John Meussner

She'll move on and waste someone else's time, good move on your part : ) 

Mar 12, 2021 12:45 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

All of your stories are so thorough but I have to say is the mark of great expertise! I just came back to this one because it showed up on my feed and I'm still learning from it. :

Mar 12, 2021 01:43 PM
Greg Mona
eXp Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

So true, John. The world of "instant gratification" has done this to us. Sadly, we've "lost" prospective buyers because they wanted to see a house "in an hour or so" when the whole day had already been booked solid. We replied "one of us will be happy to show you homes tomorrow", and then crickets. They just found somebody else that would jump at their beck and call. The same holds true when we ask if they have a PreQual in hand. By the way, the Arizona Purchase Contract states the offer of purchase will include a PreQual as part of the boilerplate language. This isn't a "would be nice to have" situation, but rather required to be submitted with the PC. Thankfully, we work on (mostly) referrals from former clients, neighbors, and friends, so we don't experience what I just described very often. 

Mar 12, 2021 05:09 PM
John Meussner

Once you get to that point where referrals are all you need, life gets so much better, largely because of not having to work with people like that : )

Mar 15, 2021 11:24 AM
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

We definitely need to set boundaries, John. People really don't think about the fact that we are people as well as professionals.

Mar 13, 2021 05:38 AM
John Meussner

Exactly - professionals who are successful, good at what they do, and financially secure, are not asking random callers "how high should I jump!?"


The people expecting that are setting themselves up for a poor customer service experience.

Mar 15, 2021 11:25 AM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Hi there, John. Agree, agree. I like fully-vetted buyers too. In my opinion, it's worth taking the time to find how strong the buyer really is prior to writing an offer. 

Mar 13, 2021 08:02 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

So on target with this blog John!  So many pp expect us (or any contractor) to be available on demand. It is very rude and tells you something about that person up front.  It's not worth it to try and jump when they call.  The relationship needs to be mutually respected !

Mar 13, 2021 11:11 AM
AndreaBFerreira CRS - SRS - CLHMS
Keyes Co. - Davie, FL
Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County in FL

I understand your point, but not all the situations are the same. I noticed I am the first RE agent from Florida answering this post. Not sure how it is in other areas, but is very common to get a call from a prospect buyer from New England for instance, and they are coming for 2-3 days only, when I have to find a house and show all possibilites to make a final decision. See, last week as a couple from Colorado.... in that case, if I don’t  do it... another agent will... and some of these customers brought me other very nice customers after they saw my dedication .... .

 

Not always but sometimes is worth it..

Mar 13, 2021 11:59 AM
John Meussner

I'd argue that folks in that position know WELL in advance they'll be in the area, and that gives them plenty of time to reach a professional and set up appointments.  Sure, it could work out, but I'd argue the time wasted on folks like this takes away from finding more courteous customers.

Mar 15, 2021 11:27 AM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Here, here, John. You nailed it with this one. I guarantee you could get enough stories, just like yours, from the august group in about five minutes that would fill an library. We should never devalue ourselves for a client who has made no substantial commitment. 

Mar 15, 2021 10:22 AM
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

John, as a new agent, I said "yes" and said it often, never turned down an opportunity. Before I knew it, I was a personal driver to many tourists who were in Central FL just for vacation and had no intention to buy a home. I can say, I learned the hard way.
If we don't respect our time, we can not expect others to respect boundaries.

Mar 16, 2021 07:44 AM
John Meussner

Exactly, Beth - you're spot on.  And will you lose an occasional customer because of it?  Perhaps, but in the long run, you'll have so much more time and work with better customers because of those boundaries : )

Mar 18, 2021 11:06 AM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

So appreciate your post.  Same goes for realtors.  We're not pop-tarts there to open doors. Building relationships and sharing knowledge is the best way to provide great service!

Mar 19, 2021 12:39 PM