Recently I entered into a debate in which a frustrated Realtor was ranting about the lack of professionalism within our industry, about buyer agents failing to provide feedback on their showings of sellers’ homes.
The agent felt that the sellers were paying good money to Realtors for performance, so the least the buyer’s agent could do was take a minute and respond to a feedback request. Judging by the number of other Realtors who shared his sentiment, it must be a burning issue.
I have a couple of observations and comments of my own and I trust that this article will, if nothing else, cause folks to discuss the age-old practice of sharing feedback. Let me begin by saying that showing feedback is, at best, a practice that we simply adopted, like showings being booked within the hour, and agents providing snacks or lunch at open houses. We were indoctrinated with a “this is way we have always done business” attitude.
Every seller wants a temperature gauge of the buyers’ interest and/or at least buyer feedback as to what they can do to improve their odds of selling their home. Some go to great lengths to gather this intelligence. I have experienced home sellers who have “bugged” their homes with everything from nanny-cams to baby monitors that can be listened to next door. We all want to know what people think.
Prior to buyer agency (circa 1992), Realtors working with buyers were all sub agents working for the seller, who paid commissions to listing brokerages, who in turn paid out the buyer’s agent side through sub-agency agreements. But those rules have been expanded to include buyer’s agency, where the buyer is now offered a choice of having their own representation.
Most Realtors are aware of the responsibilities and documentation required to establish a “Buyer under contract” relationship. In fact, many real estate offices actually ask or qualify listing showings by asking, “Is this a buyer agency showing?” Armed with this knowledge, it surprises me that we use old sub-agency practices like “request for feedback” after buyer agency showings.
As a true buyer’s agent, representing the directives of my buyers, it is my duty of care to protect, educate and ensure that the buyer can buy a home of their choice at the price and time frame that they wish. It also means that our discussions and strategies are ours to keep and protect from sellers or sellers agents. So what’s up with the request for feedback?
As a practicing Realtor I often get calls and emails for feedback. I have used a pre-typed email message to the listing agent thanking them for allowing me to show their listing. Just that, a thanks. However, I stopped because most agents would call up to a week later asking for feedback, not bothering to read the email I sent shortly after showing their listing. Now when I am called, I simply state that I am a buyer’s agent. And the phone goes dead on the other side. No one seems to understand the statement.
So here is the question: is buyer agency (fiduciary) status really understood? They did ask me at the front desk when I booked the appointment, under what status I was booking the appointment. I disclosed, “buyer agent showing” and then I received a call requesting feedback. Under a buyer agency I could ask my clients (and they are clients) what they would like me to say (if anything) because although the property may not be of interest today, it might be tomorrow, and the buyer may not want their intentions, likes and dislikes known, especially if they want to negotiate a price suitable to them.
It seems that there is confusion as to what this simple request for feedback means to all concerned. As it is an industry norm (a historical practice never addressed by by-laws or education), Realtors continue to utilize a practice that seems to no longer fit the contractual agreements between buyers and their agents, and are frustrated by Realtors who are following the letter of their agreements with their buyers.
With a track record that spans 27 years, Realtor Ronn James says his ambition is to educate the public and Realtors alike. He has landed appearances on Breakfast Television, CityLine, Real Life and a host of radio shows. James has also been a regular contributor to New Homes and Condos For Sale Magazine, Toronto Sun and Canadian Homeplanner. Website: www.RealEstateCommissionMatters.ca, phone 289-242-9050.