Why do real estate agents have a poor professional reputation? The truth can be found in the fact that while agents are paid for by the vendor, they also service buyers. But without a financial incentive to excel, its buyers that have some of the worst experiences and who then delight in telling their friends. The CoreLogic Buyer Perceptions of Real Estate Agents survey identified the sales habits that make purchasers seriously hot under the collar.
- Price Guide Dishonesty
Want to really tick a customer off? Try giving them a price guide that is significantly less than what the auction bidding starts at, or withhold the price in the mistaken belief that a buyer will phone you. (tip: they won’t) Underquoting is illegal and rightly so, but that’s not why buyers hate you when you do it. It’s the time you have wasted that is the real commodity that destroys trust. Looking for a place to buy is hard work – you lose precious weekend time and have to squeeze in open for inspections around soccer games, ballet practice, 4 loads of washing, a dash around the supermarket and dinner with grandparents. If the property that they fall in love with during this maelstrom then goes for significantly higher amount that indicates they never had a chance, they will blame you for making them start over and think rude thoughts about you.
Demonstrating this in the survey, 18% of respondents claimed that agents gave poor price guides with an additional 10% describing efforts as disastrous. Ouch.
- Dodgy Descriptions
Repeat after me: I must stop describing tired, old houses as “immaculate” and postage stamp gardens as “huge”. Truth be told, such creative licence only alienates buyers. Yes, they understand that agents are working for the seller and trying to get them the best price possible. However, when it comes to accurately describing the goods in question – honesty really is the best policy. Again, time wasting is the real major issue here.
- Poor Follow-Up
We all love it when people call us back, right? It makes us feel important and valued, and that we haven’t been discarded or forgotten. So not surprisingly, many buyers feel slightly aggrieved when agents don’t do it – especially when they’ve promised to, or when they have say $1m to spend. Failing to return calls or at least making an effort to seem interested is a surefire way to irritate potential buyers. When it came to agent follow-up, 58% said these skills were mediocre to poor, with 7% describing them as disastrous.
- Poor Post-Purchase Behaviour
Ever made a buyer collect their own house keys after settlement, or ignored instances where properties were left in a poor condition by the vendor? If so, you’ve helped lead 33% of buyers to describe agents’ post-purchase follow-through as negative. Many buyers complained that they felt dumped by their agent the minute their offer was accepted. Many also complained about needing to chase agents for information about settlement – a situation that added to the stress when mortgage and financial institutions were involved.
Other complaints included agents continuing to advertise properties post-offer acceptance or failing to remove signboards promptly.
- Bad Negotiating
As professional real estate agents, it’s virtually set in stone that you’ll be an amazing negotiator. So not surprisingly, actually turning out to be a bad one tends to peeve buyers. Putting an elephant-sized dent in the perception of excellence, negotiation skills were described as poor or disastrous by 24% and 6% of survey respondents respectively – nearly a third of those surveyed. Failing to return phone calls during a negotiation was a key complaint, as was failing to respond to a buyer once they’d made an offer. Having a significant amount of money to spend and no one interested in serving you does tend to evoke that response.
- No Interest In Recommending Suitable Properties
Imagine this scene: a potential buyer tells you the type of property they’re looking for, as well as what they’re prepared to pay. You then react by sending them to a list of properties that are blatantly unsuitable because, hey, that’s what you’ve got to sell. It’s this type of response that caused 68% of buyers to state that agents had little to no interest in helping them find a suitable property to buy. Tellingly, 29% rated agent interest as poor, while 5% labeled it disastrous.
- Lack of Property Knowledge
You’re selling a property, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that you know a lot about it. That’s why being unsure about things like building materials (is it double brick or brick veneer?) and recent renovation specifics are guaranteed to perplex any potential buyer. Passing on incorrect information and failing to be in possession of details about things like land size and council rates also causes consternation. If you’re selling a unit, it’s reasonable for buyers to expect you to know strata levies.
Kylie Davis is the head of property services marketing at CoreLogic. Follow her @KDavisCoreLogic