Communication is a word that we often hear but rarely think about. We know it is important and we know we are supposed to do it on a daily basis (like brushing our teeth) but very few of us actually dedicated time and energy to the act of it. Communication becomes particularly important in business relationships, especially your relationship with your real estate agent. You would think a person that sells and buys real estate for individuals would know how to communicate effectively, but as of late, I am coming across many situations that show me that just is not true.
Recently, I had a showing in a popular community with hundreds of homes in the complex. At the gate of the community were over 50 lockboxes holding the keys to the various units that have been listed for sale. I was showing only 5 units that day, and had made contact with over 10 agents in the days preceding the showing day to set up appointments and let the agents know that I would be showing their listings. Of the over 10 phone calls and emails I made and sent, only 5 got back to me in time and 3 still have not contacted me (three weeks later). This was my first tip-off that perhaps these agents are not experts at communication.
Next, on showing day I arrived at the gate where the lockboxes were and proceeded to get the keys for the units I wanted to show. To my utter and absolutely disbelief, I found myself facing lockboxes with no indication of who the agent was or what the unit number was. There were some agents who had taped their business card to the lockbox or used a permanent marker (oddly enough) to write the unit number on the box – but the overwhelming majority were blank. I could not believe this. How does one think he/she can sell a listing if the showing agents and prospective buyers cannot gain access to the unit?! I made a few phone calls, only one of which was answered and finally opened the lockboxes and got the keys. Some of the boxes had multiple units’ keys in there with no labels, again! This pattern was beginning to alarm me and my clients finally arrived so I brushed it off and we began our tour.
Now, I had made appointments and given courtesy notice that morning to all of the agents of the units I would be showing. Two of the units were vacant so that was no problem, but the last three still had people living in them. One family I felt particularly bad for, was trying to put their baby to sleep when I rang the doorbell and ended up with a crying infant because their agent had forgotten to tell them that their home would be shown today (by appointment!). Another lady had just gotten out of the shower and was more than shocked and surprised that anyone had made an appointment to see her home.
I write this today to let all you prospective sellers and buyers know to ask your agent about these things and be aware that although you may think your agent is a key communicator, he or she may not be. A communicative and professional agent would have let his or her clients not only know that someone was coming by to see the unit but would also conduct himself/herself in such a professional manner as to make it easy and stress-free for a prospective buyer to want to purchase the home. In this unique market, and in the aftermath of the mortgage crisis, we as real estate agents should work towards reviving the professionalism and integrity of our industry so that we can do our part in this nation’s recovery. Recovery starts with one person who changes the image of the unprofessional and shady real estate professional in the mind of just one client who then changes the mind of another and so on.