Well, I just met a prospective Buyer last weekend and, sad to say, she had LOW expectations of me and my profession. Or, maybe I should say that I'm HAPPY to say that she had LOW expectations of real estate agents?!
Okay--here's the story:
Prospective Buyer contacts real estate agent. Agent has good phone conversation with Buyer, asks some questions about what Buyer is looking for, says, "I'll get right on it and CALL YOU BACK." Then, NOTHING HAPPENS. Agent does not call. Buyer waits for a week or two; also does nothing, doesn't call that agent, really b/c it's very early in the buying process but Buyer has a poor outlook on real estate agents in general due to non-communication with her by the agent. LOW, LOW expectation about real estate agents is now set. :(
Buyer gets up the nerve to contact real estate company #2, which is GREAT b/c it's MY company. Speaks with a Relocation Specialist, THEN is told that an agent (ME!) will contact her--AND I DO contact her. I e-mailed with my contact info and hours of operation. I then called but she was at work, so asked me to call back later that night, which I also do. No answer, so I leave a message. I get an e-mail from the Buyer and call back the next day and we have an awesome, LONG-ish conversation. I get a little more info from the prospective Buyer. She gets some info from me. Everything is cool. Then, I ask "HOW AM I DOING SO FAR?" Buyer responds: "Well, you're doing great--YOU CALLED ME BACK." I ask what she means by that and the Buyer relates the (above) story of the previous agent not ever calling back!
I am sorry to say that, in this Buyer's estimation that "Great" is merely contacting her back and has nothing to do with what a terrific job I can do for her. I think it's sad that returning a phone call is considered wonderful for me as an agent, without even discussing all the cool things I can do in terms of consulting, negotiating, or organizing on the customer's behalf. I guess I'll really WOW her when the time comes for me to actually BE a real estate agent. :)
WHY do real estate agents NOT call back? There are a variety of reasons (too busy, afraid to talk to people, wrong contact information given, just don't want to call, property called on wasn't in a good price range, wrote down the info on a small piece of paper and lost/misplaced it, didn't get the "warm, fuzzies" on the phone with the customer, don't want to pursue a business relationship with customer, unsure if customer is a "real" customer, etc.) but I don't think that's the right question to be asking, really. The main fact is, when advertising works and people contact you and you are not able to answer the phone when they call, you MUST contact them back! Or, have your assistant call them. Or, just give the contact information to another agent in your office and have THEM call the prospective customer back.
In the (true) story above, if the initial agent had gotten the Buyer's snail mail address even and sent something in the mail, then he probably would have been able to help the customer. Or if he had e-mailed her, he may have helped himself out. The Buyer waited a week or so before contacting my company, so the initial agent had all the time in the world to make a move but for some reason didn't.
Unfortunately, non-communication is a complaint that many customers have about agents in general. I don't really see how some agents stay in business. If you say you're going to DO something, then DO IT. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver. It's Business 101. When you follow-through with doing what you said you would do, that typically makes customers/the public happy. When you don't follow-through, that sends a very bad message. You can't please all people, all the time. But, you CAN at least contact them back and see if you and they are a good fit to maybe work together or to see if they would be better served in working with someone else.
If now is the time for you to look for help from a real estate agent that will communicate with you regularly, whether you are buying or selling, check out my websites, look at my customer testimonials, call for my customer references, and contact me for an interview. We'll see if you and I are a good fit to maybe work together.
--Lisa Spalding, Watson Realty Corp.