Making the Most of the Home Buyer-Real Estate Agent Relationship
In some ways, the home buyer – real estate agent relationship has shifted over time. For example, today’s home buyers live online. They can click, text or email with agents and seriously engage within hours. But that doesn’t mean these buyers are ready to transact, or that they’ve found the best agent for their needs. Here’s how buyers can work more effectively with real estate agents—and vice versa.
Both buyers should be mindful of how they use an agent’s time and resources
Real estate agents are commission-only independent contractors. They will sometimes drive around for hours, showing clients different properties. They may drive their buyers around for weeks, thinking they have a ‘live’ buyer they can help. They might make an offer or two on the client’s behalf, even be present at a two- to three-hour-long home inspection. Then, the buyer decides to back out. The buyer may purchase a different house from the agent—or not.
Bottom line: Well-intentioned, hardworking agents can end up feeling like their time isn’t valued, especially when they never hear from that buyer again.
Is it incumbent on the agent to be better at time management and qualifying their potential buyer clients? Or should the buyer be clear with the agent early on if they aren’t serious just yet?
In my opinion, that the consumer comes first, and it’s up to the agent to better qualify their clients, as best they can. Spending a lot of time with buyers, with no guarantee of a commission, is simply part of the job description. It’s a sales job, and agents can’t win every deal. They need to ask lots of questions of their new “client” before offering up their time.
On the other hand, some consumers relish the attention they receive from their new “friend” who drives them around and teaches them about the world of real estate. If the buyer isn’t paying for the agent’s time, the reasoning often goes, why not take full advantage of it?
But soon-to-be homeowners should be mindful of their intentions and considerate of the resources the agent is delivering.
Should everyone stop looking online or clicking the “Contact Agent” button? No way. Consumers should always feel free to click away, ask questions and gather information.
But they should be mindful of how things work once they start seriously engaging. Most buyers don’t realize there’s a process to buying a home, and that it rarely happens overnight. From the time they first click on the photo of the killer master bathroom until they get the keys, it might be one year and three dozen (or more) house tours.
And if things don’t feel right with the agent with whom you engage early on, move on. Keep researching independently, or get a referral for a good local agent. Or, better yet, just go with the flow and the right agent will come along organically.
Agents need to ‘interview’ potential buyers, too
Real estate professionals need to understand that one text, click or email doesn’t make for an active buyer. A good agent has a handle on the sales process and asks buyers lots of questions to get a read on them. Agents should fill their sales funnel with a mix of clients in all phases of the home buying process.
Early on, an agent needs to be a guiding light, resourceful and ready to answer questions. As some of their buyers get more serious, smart real estate pros know where to direct their attention.