Andrew Wetzel's Musings

March 22, 2019

Feedback: What is the fuss all about anyway?

Filed under: Buying,Ethics,Marketing,Price,Selling — awetzel @ 4:34 PM

What is showing “feedback” and why do listing agents and sellers complain when the buyer’s “exclusive agent” doesn’t respond to feedback requests or tell them anything substantial about their showing experience and why the buyer is not making an offer?  I have used the analogy that buying and selling Real Estate, or, for that matter, any type of serious negotiation, is like playing poker:  you have two or more people trying to satisfy themselves while knowing little if anything about what the other person is thinking or willing to do.  Trying to reach a mutually beneficial outcome takes work especially if the parties are far apart from the beginning.  It would be nice but completely unrealistic to think that every buyer and every seller will be able to get what they want when they want it.  There is often no interest in a house based on what the buyer needs or wants so any feedback they might offer would be meaningless.

Selling Real Estate is unique in that we have “showings” where agents we may not know bring prospective buyers they may not know (and who may not be financially “qualified” to buy) into your house to look at your stuff.  Your “first showing” occurs online these days so the number of actual showings has generally declined making each one that much more important.  Frankly, most showings do not result in a sale, many agents show up late or not at all and the seller is often left wondering what happened.  It can be very frustrating but showings are important.  This is not a “retail transaction” and there are typically a number of moving parts to manage.

Many seem to think that feedback will provide the necessary answers.  What stopped the buyer from making an offer?  Was it the asking price?  What the house has to offer or its condition?  Did they find something they liked more?  Was it the location or neighborhood?  Many agents assume that the asking price is the issue while sellers should question the marketing or the seriousness or financial ability of the buyer.  Admittedly, getting showing after showing without any offers, even low ones, can be very frustrating but is the lack of feedback to blame?

If a buyer is interested in a property their agent will contact the seller’s listing agent to make sure it is still available and, if so, begin a conversation that might lead to a formal offer.  This also applies to investment and commercial properties.  However, if there is no feedback or contact from the buyer’s agent, the buyer may simply not be ready to move forward at the moment.  That may or may not change but it is too easy to assume that there is no interest.  Shouldn’t a listing agent follow up?  There are times where we are told an offer is coming and then we hear nothing further.  So, why do we rely on feedback?  Most feedback offers nothing substantial.

Prior to “buyer agency” all Real Estate agents were “sub-agents”, presumed to be working for the best interests of the seller so they were expected to tell a listing agent what a buyer thought about their property listing.  There was no buyer representation or “confidentiality”, regardless of what the buyer thought.  This is why we have a Consumer Notice in Pennsylvania.  We want to make sure that buyers and sellers know their options for representation and what our duties are to them based on the nature of our business relationship.

Sellers often tell me that their prior listing agent said that buyer’s agents did not offer any feedback.  Perhaps.  When I act as a buyer’s agent I know that most listing agents will not ask for feedback unless they use an automated email process.  Even then, they may not question what I tell them to see if my buyer may have some interest or to learn something that might their sellers with future showings.  So much for “promoting the best interests” of their seller-client.  Even if a buyer is not going to make an offer, it would be nice to know what happened, wouldn’t it?  Showings are often inconvenient, taking time and effort so dismissing them does not make sense.  Even selling vacant properties can cause showing-related stress!

What does feedback provide?  It is meant to be what the buyer thinks and should only be offered with their permission as it could harm negotiations.  What the buyer’s agent thinks does not matter and should only be shared with their buyer-client unless something unusual happened.  For all intents and purposes, the agent is the buyer when it comes to communication.  Even if a specific buyer is not interested in a property, the buyer agent may have a future prospect interested in it so their opinion could hurt a future negotiation.

As a listing agent, respectfully, I really do not care how another agent feels about the price unless they tell me that it is the only concern or one of several that we might need to work through to generate an offer and a sale.  Otherwise, changing the price is not going to accomplish anything but lower my client’s proceeds.  If you want to compare the asking price of my listing to other similar houses in the area that would make sense but please do not tell me that the seller’s asking price is good if you do not know the local market or if your buyer is not interested in making an offer.

So, other than telling me whether your client may be interested in making an offer or not, what do I hope you will tell me?  Please call me immediately if there is an urgent issue such as a water leak or a gas odor.  Please tell me if something made you feel uncomfortable while you were at the property such as owners who are overly friendly or intrusive.  It is the sellers’ home so it is their choice whether to be present or not but they should respect the importance of a showing and provide the visitors some privacy.  I look at a showing as a private time for a buyer and their agent to walk through a house with the idea of discussing whether it fits what the buyer is looking for or to discuss if it can be made to fit their needs.  Some sales are impacted by how the people feel about each other and that can be good or bad.  Selling and buying Real Estate should be handled in a business-like manner:  too often emotions affect the people involved and that can get in the way of completing something that both parties want.

I have our appointment center automatically send all feedback to my seller-clients so I strongly encourage buyer agents to keep that in mind when they submit feedback.  The types of feedback I am looking for do not affect your duties to your client.  That being said, I have heard some troubling accounts regarding buyer agents who thought they were being funny or who may have been a little unprofessional with their feedback comments.  Selling a house can be frustrating enough without having a buyer agent add unwelcome commentary and, again, the resulting emotion can affect a possible negotiation.

I believe that there is a buyer for every house but every house will not appeal to every buyer.  An experienced listing agent should prepare their seller-clients for what can happen with scheduled showings as well as having been honest about what the sellers are trying to sell.  Buyer agents should be respectful of seller’s homes and, even if they will not provide feedback, they should arrive when scheduled or reschedule their appointment and cancel if they are not coming.  They should follow the showing instructions.

When houses get showing after showing but no offers, it would be nice if feedback could provide the answer but it may not.  The answer may really depend on trying to determine why some buyers did not come at all.  Showings are necessary so having the proper expectations about the process is a must!

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations! 

Remember:  HIRE WISELY!  We are not all the same!

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