Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why oh why is it so fustrating dealing with your own kind?

I am on the market for a property and it just continues to flabbergast me as to how poor the service is from so many agents.

Let me provide you with a list of my frustrations:

a.       Phone calls not being returned

b.      Emails not being responded to

c.       Information not being provided on properties

d.      Poor photography – blurred pictures

e.      Not enough photos

f.        Photos that do not really showcase the home

g.       No floor plans

h.      No follow up from agents – I have to chase them
I am not going to name agents or agencies however be assured that this experience is being provided by a number of different companies and agents, most who the market would consider as being high profile.

Yet the most common issue I hear from agents today is that the market is tough…. Is the market tough or are you making it tough for yourself?
You don’t have to be Einstein or Trump to be successful in real estate, going to conference and taking pages of notes is a complete waste of time and money if you are not prepared to do some simple things. Which are:

a.       Return phone calls and emails in a timely manner

b.      Provide information the client requires to make a decision

c.       Ensure the property regardless of whether it is for rent or sale is showcased

d.      Find out what the client wants and give it to them

e.      Keep in touch and try and be genuine when building a relationship – show that you care otherwise you will not get the business
Move from being transactional focused to relationship and service focused. I was listening to a Red Balloon ad this morning and they aim is to ensure that every client they interact with has a memorable experience.

It isn’t that hard – real estate people – why are we not ensuring that every client we interact with whether online, face to face or on the phone is memorable.
Just imagine an industry where we did provide memorable and exceptional service!

Back onto my search today and I really hope that I meet an agent who frankly just simply returns my call!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

If you dont like change you will like extinction even less

Not sure about you but as a kid growing up my life was full of changes. Moving homes, living in different countries, new teachers, change to decimal system (yes that happened while I was at school), new friends, people dying – and I never ever remember my parents or teachers saying to me that change is a bad thing.

We never questioned it, in fact we just accepted what changes were occurring, adjusted, learned new skills or ways to manage the situation and life went on.

Somewhere along the way to adulthood however we go from being people who accept change to challenging and fighting against it. When does this happen and why?
I have worked with many adults who will plot, create drama and leave organisations simply because management is making changes which will benefit the whole organisation however the individual does not see it that way. 

I agree there is a change management process that needs to be followed and people need to be engaged in the process and have ownership in the changes etc but my question is at what stage do we stop accepting the fact that change is constant in our lives!.

There are a number of sales agents in our industry who have never sold real estate in a market that is soft or changing or challenging.

But should that really matter?

Isn't it about skill sets you have that you can apply regardless of the market you work in?  Shouldn't agents be investing in more training and up skilling themselves to suit the market?

Change is constant; to survive we need to get better at reading what the changes are and adjust our behaviour, performance, expectations and training – just like we did when we were kids.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I am here to preserve your price!

In all my years of real estate I have never heard anything more ridiculous. Let me tell you the experience my brother has had trying to sell his home recently in Melbourne.

Now one would have thought that as his sister is in real estate and well-connected into the Melbourne market that perhaps a referral to an agent would have been the sensible thing to do. No that wasn’t the case – he is of course the idiot younger brother.
A well-known agent was appointed – I will be fair and not mention any names and a price point quoted that I found quiet interesting.

I suspect it was the quote them high…. listing process!

Auction date was set, open for inspections were conducted, groups of 16 plus went through, 8 section 32’s were provided for but not one offer was made. One would have thought that the listing agents would have had conversations with my brother week two about the expected price…- they didn’t.
My brother leading up to the auction asked the agents if perhaps they should review the price. The response was – we are here to preserve your price and ensure that your property is sold.

One week prior to auction they had a bite – an offer was made which in hindsight was quiet reasonable, however the agents advised my brother to reject the offer as they were confident of selling on auction day for the listed price.
Their company had listed other homes in the area that had sold, were on par to my brothers home however no referrals were made from that sale, the agents never had the conversation on the fact that the market was perhaps still soft given that similar homes in the area were not selling for the price that had been quoted, in fact they knew very little about the homes listed by other agents from their offices. I suspect that this is a company where agents protect their buyers, don’t share information or data to the detriment of the clients.

On auction day guess what – there were no bids!
Can I also add that during this whole time my brother was the one who rang or emailed the agents, they were never on the front foot on communication.

A few weeks later a cheque was forwarded to them by a contact in the UK who said that their agent had been through the property and that when the cheque had cleared from the bank account they would sign the sale contract. My brother rang me up and I nearly choked on my coffee – I did explain to him that it was probably a fraud or laundering syndicate and best he not get involved in it. Plus where is the signed offer/contract that the agent is supposed to get.
Guess what, yes it was a fraud syndicate and I won’t go into the details but quiet interesting how it works. The only thing that saved these agents from not losing a 10% deposit was that they didn’t bank the cheque within 24 hours of receiving it. Yes against our regulations but it saved their bacon.

My brother then called me and asked for a referral. Thank you Toby Parker and his team at Hocking Stuart in Balwyn, they did a great job in getting in touch with my brother and stepping in. 
It amazes me how many mistakes these agents made; they:

  • got the price wrong
  • didn’t share data and information across their network
  • did not communicate with their clients on a regular basis
  • went on a campaign to preserve the price as opposed to understanding what the market was willing to pay
  • did not use their database effectively
  • lost a buyer due to their efforts to preserve the price
  • did not work the buyers who attended the open home
  • accepted a cheque without a signed offer/contract
  • did not bank the cheque within the required time frame
  • were close to becoming victims of a fraud campaign that was obvious
What i find incredible is that these agents are from a well-known Melbourne brand, I know the directors and if they actually found out this is what was occurring in the field I suspect they would turn very grey.

I do have to ask however what levels of accountability are in place in this business for agents to get away with the above. You have to question the type of culture the office has where buyers are not shared across their network.
These agents are used to working in a market where listings have been easy to get, buyers are easy to find and all they need to do is fill in the paper work.

Negotiation is a skill, from the moment you take on a listing your role is to negotiate the best possible price for the vendor as well as ensure that they understand what the market is prepared to pay for their home. Buyers in this market are too valuable and any agent who is being trained to “preserve their vendors price” may be in for a short career in real estate.