I am doing a deal with a listing agent who simply refuses to return my phone calls. Every time I call him I get a recorded message saying that he is “busy prospecting” and will return my calls later. He never does. If I email him requesting information, I get a canned response saying that his “transaction manager” will get back to me with an answer. In the time it must have taken to write that email, he could have simply answered my question himself. These agents subscribe to a particular business model within the real estate industry that relies on cold-calling. The goal is to cold call a set quantity of people every day and use a very specific sales method to attempt to list as many properties as possible.
Sellers are so easily duped into listing their apartments for sale with “cold-callers”. When you meet these agents at a listing appointment they will tell you they have closed more deals than anyone else. Sometimes it is true. They may have. This makes them quite a bit of money. But their own personal financial success does not necessarily align your own best interest as a seller.
Allow me a minute to explain. Real estate agents are all independent contractors. No one tells us how to go about our job. The ‘cold call’ model, widely preached (at a hefty price, of course, $195 for a 4 day “action session”) by Mike Ferry , is traditional, cold-calling sales model. The point is for the agent to make a set number of cold calls, working off a pre-formed script. He or she has an prepared answer to every possible objection. The adherents to this system are relentless. They lock themselves in a little room for hours a day and make calls (or “prospect”).
Interestingly, I recently saw a video interview with a “top producing” Keller Williams agent who follows this method. He actually said during the interview that he does not believe in returning phone calls or emails because it is not a productive use of his time. Watch this video and listen closely at the 31 minute mark.
He says: “Gary Keller (founder of Keller Williams) says it best – taking care of business must never take precedence over seeking new business”.
Then, at 31:21 he advised agents “just don’t respond to emails and texts” because 60 to 70% will take care of themselves. I almost fell of my chair when I heard that! Don’t respond to my clients calls and emails because they will eventually go away? Really? Is that what you want your agent to do?
Once an agent like this has your listing, he lets his minions deal with all communication with you. The seller who has already signed the listing agreement does not warrant his valuable time. He needs to prospect for more listings. To put it mildly, it is not a customer service based approach. These guys make big bucks, no doubt. It is a successful plan for an agent whose goal is to make as much money as possible.
The question you, the seller has to ask is this – is this who I want working for me to sell my home? Will this kind of agent get me the most money possible for my property, in the shortest period of time, with the fewest problems along the way? Because at the end of the day that is what really matters to a seller.
Some things to consider when choosing a listing agent, besides how much business they do, I would suggest should include:
- Will they put a sign on your building?
- Will they distribute flyers to other agents advertising your home?
- Will you hold an open house for the other agents?
- Will you hold public open houses and how many?
- Will you host the open house personally?
- Do you take photos or does a professional photographer do it?
- Do you help me stage the property?
- Will you make a video of my property?
- Will you answer my phone calls?
- Will you answer the phone calls of the agent who brings the buyer?
Why does all this matter? Every property, if the price is low enough, will eventually sell. So you can sign on with a “cold-caller” and he or she can do a horrible job marketing your home and simply, in time, convince you that you need to lower your price. Once low enough, your home will sell. I’m sure these agents have memorized a wonderful script for just that purpose. But the real question is had you used a “customer-service” agent, who takes time to meet with you after the initial listing appointment, spends money and effort to properly stage your home, prices it correctly, takes high end photos and videos and follows up to be sure it looks its best on-line, handles the negotiations with the agent who brings the buyers, answers questions and is responsive, might this customer-service oriented agent not have gotten you even MORE money for your home? I strongly believe so.
My primary goal as an agent is to sell your property while delivering the best possible service. It may take me more time to do that and at the end of the year I may sell fewer homes and make less money than the cold-caller agent. That is my purposeful choice. When I walk around town and run into you a year later, I don’t want you to ask me why the photos of your home that I posted on the MLS were blurry and upside down. I want you to thank me for doing such a great job. If your agent boasts of having the most listings of anyone in Hudson county, or selling the most properties in Hudson county, he or she is probably spending more time accumulating listings than actually focusing on the ones they already have. Good for him. Probably bad for you.