[photopress:We_20Hate_20Truth.jpg,thumb,alignright]As soon as it becomes apparent that my Buyer Client is interested in making an offer on a property, the first thing I do (usually within seconds) is call the Listing Agent.
While I always do this, what I say to that agent is not always the same.
Many people think the conversation should go like this: Buyer’s Agent asks direct questions like, “Hi, I am getting ready to write an offer on your listing at 123 This Street, do you have any other offers?” That is really, in my opinion, the worst way to handle the situation. It kind of falls into the category of “Ask me no questions; I’ll tell you no lies.” I wish I had a nickel for every new agent who thought the Listing Agent SAID there was another offer, when that is NOT what the listing agent said at all.
In fact, the biggest mistake newer agents make, is thinking that the Listing Agent is being helpful HA! Give me a break! AS IF!
Sometimes I’m a Listing Agent, myself. I’m not saying Listing Agents lie anymore than Buyer’s Agents lie. But clearly the truth is “worked”. I admire a good Listing Agent who “works his truth”. You have to have a trained ear. Somewhat like a musician who can hear when his guitar needs tuning, or a voice coach who can pick up a flat note. Actually most agents are terrible liars, and I’ve called a few bluffs in my time with great success. But rather than go in that direction in the first place, better to shift the focus entirely from the getgo.
There’s always a better way, and generally that better way leads to getting the Listing Agent to spill his guts, without your revealing a thing about your client’s intentions. Of course it depends on how experienced and sharp the listing agent is, and whether you are catching them at the right moment. By calling immediately, within seconds of knowing my buyer client MAY be making an offer, I can get info without telling any lies.
I pick up the phone and say, “Hi Joe, I’m IN your listing at 123 This Street…” Most agents call BEFORE they show the property and ask, “Is your listing still available?” How annoying is that?! It’s like saying, “Hi, I want to make sure I’m not working too hard for nothing, can you help me with that?” By calling from INSIDE the property, and saying that in the first 3-7 words, the agent knows you aren’t one of those “wasting-his-time-checking-availability” agents.
If agents knew how their words and actions affect their clients, they would all be taking “How to Say IT” lessons”…oh forgot…no class on that one. But plenty of classes on Feng Shui…how FUN! 🙁
Ok, so you’ve got the listing agent on the phone, and the goal is to keep him on the phone as long as you can, talking about crap. “Joe, is there a Form 17 Online?” or “Joe, I was just wondering, since the house is vacant, if the owners need more than the average time to respond to offers?” or “Joe, I’m here in your listing at 123 This Street with my Buyer Clients and they asked if the new roof, noted in the listing, is a 25 year shingle or a 30 year shingle. Can you check that for them, and get back to me on that?” (the ending of that last question is very important. Don’t expect the Lisiting Agent to know that off the top of his head. You don’t want him to feel stupid or you set the wrong tone. Counter-productive.)
The Listing Agent will usually answer your question and ask “Are you writing an offer?” By having called within seconds of your Buyer Client being “maybe” interested, and not waiting until you are actually talking with your buyer client about writing an offer, you can honestly say: “I MIGHT be writing an offer, not sure yet. They are definitely interested, but we’re still going through the house.” At this point the Listing Agent usually starts spilling his guts.
How the Listing Agent does that takes many, many forms. The goal is to get them talking. Usually you do not ever have to ask if there is another offer. If there really IS another offer, the agent would likely have said it already. Those that spill their guts for 20 minutes, and THEN try to throw in at the end of the conversation, some vague reference to “maybe another offer coming”, are actually funny. They kind of sound like the two year old, looking up at Mommy with their hand in the cookie jar, trying to convince Mommy that they really weren’t going to EAT the cookie 🙂
I absolutely will tell a Buyer’s Agent the TRUTH when I am the Listing Agent. But most times I can “work” that truth in a way that leads the Buyer’s Agent to believe there might be another offer. I can’t tell you exactly how that’s done, or I won’t be able to ever do it again 🙂 But I do not lie, ever, and most times the Buyer’s Agent erroneously tells their buyer client that I said there was another offer, when I did NOT say that at all.
Again, if I had a nickel for every time I heard a new agent say, “The Listing Agent SAID there was another offer” when the listing agent NEVER said that… What the new agent is doing is thinking more about getting paid, than about their client’s best interests. They are listening to the Listing Agent for signs of what they should do next, like maybe write an offer for MORE than they otherwise would have. And that is exactly what the Listing Agent wanted them to hear.