Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Agents and Clients Should Give Feedback

I always encourage my clients who are realty agents to get as much feedback and input from their clients as possible. Yesterday’s post about potential buyers not seeing the vision of making changes or improvements themselves in order to further a good deal on a home drew a couple of nice responses from clients.

One of my clients reminded me that not everybody they work for is as verbal or expressive about their likes and dislikes when it comes to house hunting. I responded that sometimes the agent has to take charge of the situation and ask good questions to get the concerns out. Sometimes it can be done by making a suggestion at a key moment.

A simple “I think that living room would look better with a lighter color” would hopefully spark a “I was thinking the same thing!” or “Actually, I thought the color worked well”. Presto. Now you have a good idea of what color(s) most appeal to your client. And so on.

If you are showing a home to a potential buyer, within minutes of leaving (and before arriving at the next home if it is a multiple showing) you should have as much feedback from the potential buyer, positive or negative, as you can.

Or, if you are looking at homes with your agent, you might also get some feedback from one who knows. I saw nothing wrong with asking my agent questions like, “I liked that sliding door to the patio. Do the other homes we’ll be looking at have that?”. As a buyer, I want the expertise of someone who has seen other homes in the area so that I can compare as well.

To me, the buyer and the realty agent should view each other as an important resource. I have even helped one client to develop a checklist for potential buyers to directly indicate what they like and don’t like about each house they see during the hunt.

The next step is to distinguish between a concern which could be controlled and one which cannot. I wrote yesterday about my wife and I not even wanting to look at a unit next to a power line and with an access road not having a stoplight out onto a very busy road. Even if the unit itself was a bargain and had the features we were looking for, I would have still had those obstacles in the way. Since I can’t remove power lines and build a stoplight, that was out of my control.

Yet, seeing an obvious boys bedroom in a house that would be for girls should not present a challenge. If everything else checks out and the price is right, I wouldn’t let a paint job on a couple of rooms stop me from a purchase.

The potential buyer and the agent need to think this way throughout the process. If you really like a house but estimate you would spend $3,000 to make the changes you want, it might compare favorably against paying $5,000 more for a house you don’t like as much overall.

If you are the buyer, make your decision based on a number of factors. If you are the agent, use good comparisons from your local experience to help make that decision. Maybe we can all work to reduce the “no hurry – the house will be there” approach that is bogging down the market.

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