In 2002, when my husband and I went house shopping the first time around, we used a Realtor who was recommended by the mortgage broker we were using. He had impressive credentials. He had been in the business since 1986, was Realtor of the year in this area at least once, was in the ‘hall of fame’ and ‘platinum club’ for ReMax, and obviously sells a lot of property.
Since then, he’s called us several times a year – birthdays, anniversary, house anniversary. He sends us all sorts of marketing stuff, and it made sense that when we were ready to put this house on the market, we called him earlier this week. He came out to meet with us last night. When he walked in the door, we were 100% sure that we would be listing our house with him. We weren’t interviewing him or considering other options – he was our choice. The deal was his to lose, and he did so in grand style.
First of all, he started telling us about another business that he’s running, and how he’s got a big presentation for it next week. He was obviously excited about it, and more power to him. But when you’re meeting with a client, it’s probably best to make sure that you focus completely on what you’re supposed to be doing for the client. It’s not a good idea to create doubts in a potential client’s mind about your focus and dedication to the task at hand. That was mistake number one.
Then he sat down with a huge sheaf of papers and started talking about the statistics of the local real estate market over the last few years. This went on for about half an hour. Frankly, we didn’t give a damn. We’re selling our house. We know the market isn’t as good as it has been in recent years, but we’ve made our decision and we’re moving forward with it. We’re not on the fence and needing to be convinced to put our house out there on the market. It struck me as odd that he would spend so much time on something that didn’t really apply in our situation. He didn’t ask if we wanted to discuss any of that stuff, he just did it. That was mistake number two: when you’re in sales, you should keep your mouth shut as much as possible, ask open-ended questions, and let the clients lead the conversation. Once you know where they are and what they want, you can much better address their actual needs.
After 30 minutes of telling us about the real estate market, he started bringing up the politics behind the economic situation. He said that the mortgage crisis happened because congress forced banks to write 55% of their loans for people who “couldn’t afford loans”. Hmmm. Congress forcing anything requires legislation, which has to be written down somewhere. When my husband called him on this, he said that you won’t find this little gem written anywhere. So I guess it’s imaginary legislation. But anyway, we moved on.
I went upstairs to change a diaper, and as I was coming back down I heard him telling my husband that he and his family went to a Tea Party last month. Oh. My. Goodness. Did you seriously just come into our home for the purpose of doing business with us, and then bring up such a politically charged topic without knowing where we stand on the issue? Aren’t you a marketing professional? Are you going to do this with potential buyers who might otherwise be interested in our house? It’s one thing to bring up politics with friends or family, where business deals aren’t on the line. Or when business deals are on the line and you’re sure that the clients are of the same mindset you are. But telling potential clients that you want to a Tea Party without knowing their political views strikes me as particularly un-savvy.
After he left, my husband and I decided that we didn’t want to work with him. He may be a great Realtor, but there were just too many red flags, and we were left with a very uncomfortable feeling about the whole thing. My husband started researching online, and found another Realtor who sounded quite impressive. He called to leave a message (it was 10:30pm) and she answered the phone.
The first Realtor spent so much time talking politics and economics that he never really got around to discussing what he would do to actually sell our house. The lady we spoke with last night got right down to business. She will come to meet with us on Monday morning, to look at our house. Then she will take us with her to go look at several houses in our neighborhood that are for sale, to get a good idea of what else is available, how they compare to our house, and how they’re priced. Then she will have a professional stager come in to consult with us and give us ideas (yay! – we’ve been doing it on our own, and some professional tips would be great!). Then she will send in a professional photographer to take pictures of the house (there’s no additional fee for these services – they’re included in her fee). Already, in a 15 minute phone call, she had gotten far more into what we were actually interested in – the business of selling our home – than the other guy did in an hour and a half.
And she charges 5%.
We are thrilled to be working with her. My husband called the other guy this morning and let him know that we were using a different Realtor, and explained why. The guy tried to defend his arguments, which just seems silly. This is business, not a dinner party (or a tea party!) By not asking questions, by sticking to a tired routine, by going on about another business venture, and by bringing up politics, the first Realtor lost himself a commission that would likely have been around $12,000.