Trying to figure out if listing agents are on the level is often a gut thing for sellers and buyers. In fact, trying to determine if any sales person is handing you a pile of crap can be difficult because so many salespeople use scripts, canned presentations, or memorize lines designed to confuse or instill fear. I’ve certainly been running across the BS when updating my website, but at least I have a designing background and formal html education, and yet they still try to snowball me.
One web designer read my featured blog on Active Rain about 7 tips for updating your website and left me a voice mail yesterday about how she “suddenly” discovered Google errors and offered help. That web designer is a big part of the reason I’ve had to pay to have my site reconfigured and then redesigned a second time. Another put my website on an old server, and reconfigured the outdated server to work with my website rather than coding my website for my own host server. Both were horrid experiences. The sales presentations were good but the performances were terrible.
I was thinking about that when I met with a seller yesterday in West Sacramento. She has been talking with several listing agents about listing her home. I could use scripts and whatnot in my business, but I don’t. I just wing it. If you can believe that, and it’s true. Every person is different and every situation deserves a custom approach. I don’t worry about first impressions, persuading sellers to do business with me, or reciting prepared speeches. I just talk with them. I listen to their objectives and questions and do my best to address.
They either like me or they don’t, I figure. Guess I’m pretty lucky because most of the time they do. During this conversation yesterday at my seller’s home in West Sacramento — and I don’t even recall what I was saying — all of a sudden the seller blurted: You’re hired. That quick pronouncement took me by surprise but what the hey, I told her that was great, thank you, and she made a good decision. Because it was and she did.
As one of Sacramento’s top-producer listing agents, I don’t use a prepared listing presentation. Oh, of course, I email a comprehensive comparative market analysis, but the rest of my visit is devoted to finding out what my sellers want and delivering. I don’t need or use props. No 100-page books, literature or flip charts. People do business with other people. My impressive track record and 40+ years of experience speaks volumes, but I am the only person who speaks solely for me. And I believe that’s what sellers appreciate.
There are times in the Sacramento real estate business that I am reminded how it can really take two REALTORS to close a transaction: both a listing agent and a buyer’s agent. Just for the record –and because it tends to confuse both agents and the public alike — a buyer’s agent is a selling agent. A listing agent is a seller’s agent. The listing agent represents the seller but can’t really sell the property without an agent who represents the buyer, which would be the selling agent. No agent is an island in real estate. It takes two, baby. God, I hate that Marvin Gaye ear-worm and can’t believe that I, at any time in my life, could possibly have sung along to it.
I am very grateful to work with selling agents who on occasion can save my butt, too. I am not forced to interact with selling agents throughout every transaction, but I generally prefer to communicate directly with my fellow agents. Unless, of course, they are an asshole. Then they can talk to the wall for all I care. It is possible to never communicate through any type of technology, if one so chooses, and some agents are like that. Hi, this is Joe and I answer my phone during blue moons between 1:15 and 1:17. But I don’t run into very many of those, maybe one a year if I’m unlucky. For the most part, selling agents are professional, smart, funny and a sheer delight, even though we represent opposite sides in the transaction.
There are people who think the selling agent and listing agent need to maintain an arm’s length distance, and while we cannot divulge any confidential information about our clients to the other agent, it doesn’t mean we can’t work together toward a common goal and still have fun doing it.
Here’s an example of above-and-beyond cooperation for you. I listed a vacant home in Roseville a while back that had a series of apparent issues, fogged-up windows, no carbon monoxide detectors and no keys. The seller lived across the Pacific. To expedite matters, I hired a locksmith and paid for a new set of keys. I also bought 3 carbon monoxide detectors to install on each level of this tri-level home, and plugged them into the respective walls.
When the home sold, the buyer’s appraiser could not locate the carbon monoxide detectors. They all had vanished. Carbon monoxide detectors are a huge, huge deal, a bigger deal than whether a home has a functioning air conditioner or a solid finished floor. A carbon monoxide detector is to real estate as a door frame is to a door: without it, you’re not closing. And somebody had stolen the carbon monoxide detectors. I tried to imagine a mother collecting CO detectors throughout the tour and stuffing them into her baby bag. Why? Or, a real estate agent blazingly walking out the door carting all 3 in his hands.
Nobody broke into this house. Whomever swiped the CO detectors entered through the key in the lockbox.
Yet, the selling agent didn’t shrug once, and she replaced the carbon monoxide detectors, even though it wasn’t really her place to do it. We all do what we need to do to take care of our clients and each other. At least the professionals do. The others apparently walk off with carbon monoxide detectors.
Anything you say can and will be used against you, I warn home sellers in Sacramento. Sacramento home sellers have rights and don’t have to say anything to a third party. On top of that, no matter what a buyer’s agent may believe, it is not the seller’s responsibility to convey transaction status or to discuss anything about the terms of selling the home with another agent. That’s one of the reasons sellers hire a Sacramento real estate agent, to represent the seller. Yet, agents seem to continue all the time to ask sellers this stuff.
When a listing notes in the showing instructions to make an appointment with the owner, it means an agent can call a seller to make an appointment. It doesn’t mean an agent is free to engage in a conversation about how many offers the seller has received, whether any of the offers were cash, or if the seller will accept less than list price — yet, you’d be amazed at how many agents do exactly that. No wonder some agents don’t let anybody talk to their sellers. Because anything you say can and will be used against you.
Regardless of how a listing agent might try to micromanage a transaction, though, one can’t always separate a buyer’s agent from a seller. It’s simply impossible. The buyer’s agent might run across the seller pulling out of the driveway as the agent is pulling up to the front of the home, and it is fairly easy for the buyer’s agent to slam her vehicle into park, leap out, run up to the seller’s car and knock on the window.
I practice sometimes with my clients to repeat after me: “you’ll have to ask my agent,” as a response to questions thrown by outsiders in their direction. I don’t care if it’s something simple as how long have you lived here, the preferred response is: you’ll have to ask my agent. You might think a transaction is all about win-win but it’s really about a listing agent trying to do what is best for her seller and a buyer’s agent trying to do what is best for the buyer.
Any information a home seller provides can and will be used against the seller. You’re not just two people standing next to each other in a grocery store line having a chat about some reality TV show on the cover of People. You’re probably a seller who doesn’t want to drop bags of cash out of the window. Trust your agent and go be BFF?after the transaction closes.