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Lack Of Communication Is Number 1 Complaint Of Real Estate Agents

lack of comminicationHave you ever had one of those moments where you said “ah, now I get it?” Well I have had one recently and I would like to tell you all about it. I would like you to know about it because I believe it presents a teachable moment for you as a real estate agent from a consumer [me]. As you may already know, I am a former title rep. I spent 10 years in the title industry. In those 10 years I have seen a lot. I’ve seen the married couple come in to a title company excited about buying their first home and I have seen that same couple come in years later [not talking] as they sign after the divorce. I have seen the couple that could not take their eyes off each other and the same couple  scream at each other like you would not believe in at attempt to intimidate the other to sign something one did not want to. I have seen home buyers and sellers come on to sign and refuse to talk to their real estate agent [arms crossed, the wife trying to calm the husband down as he reads the agent the riot act]. I have seen a lot. But up until now I have never really experienced it – myself. This all recently changed. I have heard the number 1 complaint about real estate agents is Lack Of Communication, Now I know why.

What I am about to tell you is true, there is some information that I am about to tell you that may seem harsh, but it is true. As you read it, you can choose to think I have ridiculous expectations, you can choose to believe I should cut the agent some slack or you can choose to side with me. Regardless of what you choose to believe, what I am about to tell you is a story about a consumer [me] and my perception towards a real estate agent.

Here we go. . .

In addition to being a former title rep, I am also a real estate investor. I currently own 4 homes but have owned as many as 9 at one time in numerous states. Throughout my years in title I bought and sold homes on a regular basis. I am not a real estate agent and I have never sold or bought a home without being represented by a real estate agent before. In each of the instances that I bought or sold property, it was the right time to buy or sell, the market was good and I was happy. I have had numerous real estate agents, all did a great job [Ned, Dave, Scott, Jerry, Alex, Tom…what’s up fellas!]. When I mean good, I mean that they asked the right questions, provided suggestions and provided me with updates regularly. One of the reasons I received updates on a regular basis was that the agents that represented me were my clients. It was not uncommon for me to see them at least once per week or talk to them or their assistants on a regular basis. I did not necessarily ask to be updated – it just kind of happened during the course of my business.

Fast forward a year and I am now out of the title industry. I left the business in March 2011 to focus on growing my own company PRO-Found Marketing. Pretty much the same stuff I did as a title rep, only now I do it for real estate agents, title companies, real estate attorneys, restaurants, salons etc.. I don’t know if you know this but starting a company is a lot like having a baby. There is a lot of excitement. There is also a lot of anxiety and stress and “hope” that things will be OK and there is certainly a lot of pain. I have learned a lot about counting on others and I am beginning to see where all those “reliable” and “hard working” comments came from, from my previous employers. I have learned that everything is more expensive than you think it will be. Everything. My father owns a software company and so he gave me some choice words when I left the “corporate nest” to go it on my own. One of the things he told me was to “trust people to be untrustworthy” and “manage the activities not the person”, I didn’t get it then but I certainly do now.

Back to my story.

As I have said, I have had as many as 9 homes at once, but I currently have 4. I am selling one of my homes [in another state] to raise more capital for a technology my company is building. Remember when I said that I would normally get updates from the real estate agents in the past and why that was? Well I do not get updates from the agent I have now. The agent was a “family friend”, “You should work with so and so” kind of thing. So I did. [I’m an idiot]. And this is where the lesson begins. I listed an investment property with this agent. Unlike the other times when I bought or sold property, this time the economy is not the best – maybe you have heard? – I am selling a home to raise more money to have a vital part of my company completed. My home is listed with this agent and to say he/she sucks would be a gross understatement. I am underwhelmed.

The property has been listed for 4 weeks, I have had no updates what-so-ever. Now, maybe it’s me coming from a service industry like title insurance but if I was a real estate agent, I would at least check in on a regular basis to let my seller know what is going on. Maybe that is just me. I get none of that. To make matters worse, when I call the agent I typically get voicemail. Emails and text messages go unreturned for at least 24 hours – or more. Remember when I said starting a company is stressful? Well, this situation is not helping any. I am from upstate New York originally, and a temper is issued to all the boys at birth. When I finally get a call back from the agent or in the off chance he/she answers the phone when I call, I get the feeling that I am being a bother or that the agent is doing me a favor. I don’t like that feeling. I have painted myself into a corner because if it was anyone else other than a family friend I would have kicked him/her to the curb a long time ago and been 100 honest as to why I was doing it [it’s a NY thing].

The house is still not sold, I do not have an accurate number of times the home has been shown, if I did I could make an educated decision as to a price reduction or incentives or both [hmmm home shown 12 times + no offers = price reduction]. When I speak to the agent and ask what the feed back has been from the buyers agents I get “Oh, I will check on that”. I am pissed. I am pissed because when I said I was going to do something, come hell or high water I damn well did it or had an AMAZING excuse as to why I could not. I have worked with real estate agents for 10 years and this one agent is defineately effecting my view of all of them [you].

I find myself thinking my agent:

  • sucks
  •  Is lazy
  • is stupid
  • lacks common sense
  • should go back to stocking shelves at Walgreens
  • is over paid
  • is giving all other agents a bad name

I wonder how many other consumers have a bad experience with a real estate agent and lump every other real estate agent into it? I am betting a lot. Unfortunately there is no service test a real estate agent can take. Funny isn’t it? In a service occupation I have an agent that sucks at it. All of this could have been avoided. I am not blaming the agent for the home not selling, hell, it’s only been 4 weeks, I am blaming them for keeping me in the dark. I have 10 years of experience in this business, have bought and sold a dozen homes and yet selling a home is still stressful. I know the ins and outs of the process and yet, it is still frustrating, I know the process and yet I still have anxiety. 10 years of experience and I have these feelings. I wonder how many of your buyers or sellers feel the same way? All of this could have been avoided if the agent had only asked a few pointed questions

  • Why are you selling?
  • What is your time frame?
  • What do you expect?
  • How often would you like to be updated?
  • How would you like to be updated?
  • What do you expect from me?
I would feel a lot better about this process If I knew the agent was going to call me every Monday to tell me about the activity on the home, the feedback from the other real estate agents etc. instead, I am stuck with an agent that is a family friend that has horrible service and communication skills. What can you do? If you know Lack Of Communication is the number 1 complaint about real estate agents, you can diffuse it by asking your clients the questions above and setting the right expectations from the gitty up. I bet there are plenty of consumers that expect to have an agent that does not communicate effectively, can you imagine how blown away they would be if you set up a system to keep them advised?  Hell, they might even refer you to their friends and family without you having to ask!
10 years in the title industry and yet I still have feelings of Anxiety, Stress and Frustration when selling a home. I bet you have clients right now that feel the same way.  Now,  What are you going to do about it?

Stephen

Hi I'm Stephen Garner, I'm just a guy in the title industry {in Phoenix} trying to change how real estate agents market themselves and their services. To that end, I teach my clients HOW TO leverage sales technologies like WordPress, Content, Video, Camtasia, Final Cut X, iMovie and indexable IDX solutions to convey value and help your ideal client find you online when they are most interested in learning about you and your services. I work for escrows. Hire me!

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