Is Another Offer REALLY Coming?

[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.

Does It Really Matter….?

Ardell’s recent post on FSBOs was courageous as you won’t see many agents talk about how one might sell a property without listing it. While it may be a bit counter intuitive to some agents, one reading the post should come away feeling that Ardell (and others like her) are not in the business of providing self-serving advice.

In her post, Ardell said, “[T]here are several companies that offer this service, and while it is true that some agents may boycott you and not show your house, if you have one of those houses that will “sell itself

Real Estate, Technology and Transparency

[photopress:transparent.jpg,thumb,alignright]I’ve been running two experiments, trying to find the true meaning and value of transparency in the real estate transaction. I’ve taken all of the things I have known forever, and added the things I’ve learned in recent months, and combined them into a Transparency Model using email.

For as long as I can remember, agents will tell each other things that they would never say to a consumer. Same with most ancillary service providers. We can talk to each other point blank and in short hand and with a clarity that has pinpoint precision. But when talking with the consumer everyone starts being guarded, balancing telling the truth with trying to get their business, and saying what they “know” the consumer wants to hear. Falling into what I call (and hate) “script mode”.

I’ve been having some conversations with agents, while copying “the outsider”…the owner. The other agent didn’t realize I was copying the owner at first, and was responding directly to me without hitting “reply to all”. That was a good thing, because it was quick, it was spot on info, and it was very good and valuable info.

Sometimes the consumer doesn’t know the right questions to ask, or they are just not in the same conversation with us. So we end up “communicating” with the consumer out in left field on some irrelevant tangent, while trying to focus on the real issues all at the same time. Owners tend to fall back into the past, remembering when and why they painted that wall bright purple when their daughter was 10. She is now grown, married and has children of her own. We’re trying very hard to say get rid of that purple, but they’ve lapsed back in the time machine and are standing in the room with their ten year old daughter. When they finally come back and realize you are in the room, you end up saying “yeah, love that purple!”.

By letting the owner watch two agents email back and forth quickly about their home, they “see” the real issues at hand. Very much like that photo up there, it’s as if they are looking through a two sided mirror where they can see us and we don’t see them. If they can’t comprehend it at the moment or if they just can’t take the mental picture of their ten year old out of their head, they can come back later and read it again and again. They absorb the information in small doses, and eventually “get it”.

I remember one owner way back when, who came up with a brilliant idea “in a dream” nine months later, that was exactly what I told him to do, on the first day I met him. He just wasn’t ready to hear it at the time. Too much going on that night. By using email, he can revisit and address all of the ideas in smaller doses.

Email is scary sometimes, because you are putting some hard facts “on paper” that we, in the past, would only say, but not write down. But it introduces a higher level of transparency, because the consumer can go back later and read it again and again. Different people absorb different things each time they read it. I just received an email from a seller in answer to an email I sent maybe ten days ago. She read it ten times before coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Then she emailed me…she’s about 80 years old 🙂

I am going to try, with my “Ardell & Oxford” real estate talks, to bring this “transparency” to RCG. To talk to an agent, woman to woman, pretending no one is watching us talk. NOT about the industry at large. NOT about how agents feel about the industry. I want to talk to an agent about a house and what the seller needs to do to get it sold. I want to talk about a buyer, and why they are or are not being successful in their quest. I want to talk to another agent the way we talk to each other, while everyone else is watching and learning.

Contrary to what Dustin said, it really wasn’t hard for me to find someone who will do this with me, as agents do this with me every day, always have. Now finding someone willing to do it with me live and in your face on RCG, well yes, I have found someone. But that was pure happenstance. Let’s run with it and see what happens. I should have her set up by the end of the week, if not sooner.

We are the “innovators”. Let’s kick transparency up a notch. Instead of asking others what that means, let’s create what it REALLY means…as only we can. Not because we are smarter…just because for some reason, we seem to have the cajunes to make fools of ourselves in open view 🙂 Speaking for myself, of course.