2013 Nov 14th

The Fallacy of Feedback

Every time we list a home for sale and it is shown to buyers, the seller want’s to know “what was the feedback?”  In fact, agents will often brag to the prospective seller on a listing appointment “we have an automated system that asks every agent who showed your property to fill out a feedback form that will be send directly to you after ever showing.”

If you are a seller, here’s a really important thing you need to know.  There is only one type of feedback that matters – it is called an offer.

When an agent is showing your home, they represent the buyer.  Sometimes, they are a sales person with no real duty to that buyer other than to act ethically.  Occasionally, they are an agent of the buyer and owe the buyer a fiduciary duty.  In either case, they work for the buyer. While it might be considered ‘professional courtesy’ to give the listing agent feedback, from the buyer’s perspective, it is always a bad idea.

If you are a buyer with the slightest interest in the property, how can it possibly help your negotiating posture to let the seller know what you think?  I work mostly with buyers.  If my buyer is even remotely interested in a property, I won’t supply any feedback.  On the other hand, if the buyer has zero interest, I don’t understand how something like, “the master BR was too small” does anyone any good.  If I have a fiduciary duty to my client, that duty trumps courtesy to another agent or the seller. Why would a buyer’s agent give feedback to the seller of a property?   I would not do anything that has even the slightest chance of compromising my client’s negotiating position.

So while I’d like to ‘play nice’ with the other agents out there, they need to realize that giving feedback hurts the interest of my buyer.  If anything, I will say negative things to prepare the seller for a low offer.  Do they really think I’m going to say “OMG it was the most amazing home we’ve ever seen, and that kitchen was to die for, but it was priced so well we couldn’t believe your not asking twice that amount?”  Listen agents – you want to use my Xerox machine, borrow my iPad, or get something notarized, I’m happy to extend professional courtesy.  But when it comes to compromising my buyer’s negotiating stance – it ain’t gonna happen!  That’s not professional courtesy – that’s just plain dumb.

Sellers – take the “feedback” you get with a huge mountain of salt.  No matter how many times you call us and ask us to ask the buyer’s agent whether the buyer was interested, none of it matters.  The ONLY feedback that really and truly matters comes in contract form – it’s an offer!

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  1. JC

    agreed. Its so silly. The more negative feedback on a property the more interest that persona has in making an offer, albeit lower than market, but still. This isnt a a feedback survey on what cupcake flavor people like most. Your space is finite…are you really going to tear down a wall, take away space from the living room and spend $10k cuz some random people are syaing the master is too small? jeez.

  2. Chili Agee

    I will offer a counter-argument. Last week I received a feedback form on one of my listings. It said the buyer liked the property and was considering making an offer. Since I knew the sellers had just received an offer I quickly notified the agent and (with the seller’s permission) and that led the new buyer to quickly make a better, higher offer. So feedback helped both the buyer and seller.

  3. Alan

    Bravo! Well said.

  4. Craig

    @Chili – that feedback didn’t help the buyer and seller, the second offer did. Which supports Lori’s argument that offers are the only feedback that matters. You could have contacted anyone who viewed the property to alert them of the first offer just the same whether they had provided any feedback or not.

    I for one would never point out all the things I like about a property to a seller. Rather, I’d point out all the faults with the property. That better supports the reason why I’m offering under asking price.

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