Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"No Deal, Howie..."

True Story:...I was having a discussion with another Realtor this week when he mentioned to me that he had just been 'fired' by his client. The scenario followed along these lines: The young agent had identified and scheduled Saturday showings for a series of condominiums in Chicago. At the end of the showing itinerary his clients (a young couple) expressed serious interest in one particular property but needed to board a plane and fly out of town the next day. The agent promised to get 'more information' and would 'touch base' again when they returned to town the following week. As luck would have it, the condo went under contract with another buyer and another agent that very evening and was subsequently agreed upon, signed off on, and faxed to the attorneys of both parties by the end of the night--unbeknownst to the young storyteller.

When my agent friend called for a 'second showing' at the request of his clients the following week he received the bad news from the listing agent. His clients were not only dissappointed but more than a little upset and immediately fired him over the phone. He was slated to take their listing (current home) as well and this opportunity too, was lost. They felt he should have kept them 'in the running' and were also upset he didn't 'know' what the condo eventually sold for. After that story even I was unhappy just hearing it.

So here are my thoughts on the whole thing. First, as a Realtor, I never want to be overbearing but I've lost enough deals in my own career to know that I'm just not doing my clients any favors by letting them wait on a property they love. Period. It only makes sense that when one place stands out from the rest at a particular price point then it will be the most desirable to everyone who sees it and thus, be the most likely to first go under contract. I call this the 'Prettiest Girl In School Theory' for all the obvious reasons. Its my job as a Realtor to let my clients know the perfect place might very well be gone in short order and to pose the following two-part question:..."So how would you feel if you found out in a day or so that someone else got the property? And later on found out that is was purchased at a price you would have paid?"

Now in support of my colleague, its been a long, cold, slow winter season and even the best of the best listings have lingered on the market for longer than usual. And I guess if you dress a pretty girl in a snowsuit with scarves, a hat and boots then shove her out in a winter blizzard with sub-zero windchills, then one might just miss the otherwise obvious 'beauty' as they pass her on the street in January. (And then there's the whole 'inner beauty' thing as well, but that's another theory for another day.)

The other thing, and this is probably my most important point, is that as Realtors we need to let our clients know the series of events from beginning to end. I always forward a copy of the following Purchase Steps piece fairly early on in the relationship. I borrowed it from someone a few years back and rewrote to fit my own real estate marketing needs. It touches all important bases in the buying process with the possible exception of 'The Multiple Offer.' (The MO is a whole different walk in the park---and again, is fodder for another day. Now that's something to get fired over. Perfect strategy is in order to be sure, with the big MO.)

As far as 'knowing' what a subject property sold for prior to Closing (of escrow)---well, this is highly guarded knowledge. It is unethical for a listing agent to reveal or even hint at this information until it is recorded. Can you imagine the mess if a Multiple Offer was in play? I've even heard of a 'losing buyer' going around all agents involved and submitting a high bid to the seller after the negotiations were concluded, trying to get back in the deal through the back door.

Also, there is no 'in the running' in real estate--not without a submitted written contract. 'Verbal Interest' is just that...verbal and interest. The above mentioned Purchase Steps clearly shows that the initial 'written offer' is a long way from the 'final walk through.' You might as well be the first to put it in writing on your own terms and let the negotiations begin rather than wait too long and be boxed out of the deal completely. Just remember, all you agents and buyers...anything that isn't submitted on paper in a timely fashion is simply, "No deal, Howie..."

picture by tv.msn

Geno Petro

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