I have always run business on the basic principle of "people are generally good," and it has worked very well for a long time. I treat people right, and they treat me right as well (the majority of them, anyway.) For example, I've never had my buyer-clients sign employment contracts with me before going out to look at houses together. They understand that I'm working hard to provide a value for them, and when we find the right house, they'll want me to represent their best interests in the transaction. A couple of times a year someone will let me down, but overall I've found that people appreciate what I do for them and reciprocate by being loyal to me. Well, this year (and especially this week!) hasn't gone so smoothly...
Yesterday someone called me who was interested in one of my listings and asked if I could meet them in an hour to show them the home. Absolutely! This is one of the positives of my job - something the sellers did to prepare their home, or something I did to market their home, struck a chord, and someone wants to see it - that's great news! I called the sellers to let them know what was happening and headed over to the home. Well, our appointment time came and went with no sign of these buyers. 20 minutes later I called them to check in, and their response was something along the lines of, "my wife remembered she didn't like that neighborhood, so we didn't bother stopping in." OK, but thanks a lot for wasting my time.. If you don't like the neighborhood you don't like the neighborhood - I'm ok with that. But could you show some common courtesy for others?
Monday I spoke with a client of mine who had to share some bad news with me. It seems that even though we've been working together since before Thanksgiving to find her perfect home, she has also been working with another realtor in another part of town for even longer. Her plan was to work with the realtor from the part of town she ends up buying her home. But now she realizes how much time & engergy we're both giving her, and she feels bad, so she has decided to use the realtor she met first regardless of where she ends up buying... Oh well, my loss. It's part of the business.
Sunday I spoke with another buyer-client and received very similar news. This was a first-time buyer, so there was more involved than just looking at houses together. Which suburb of the entire Valley would be right for her? What's the difference between what you can qualify for, and what you can afford? What are some of the hidden benefits and hidden costs of home ownership? Once we found the right neighborhood, and she was armed with lots of good knowledge, she decided to work with a realtor-friend of hers instead.
A couple of months ago, I had clients come into town who were moving here from California. We spent two months emailing & talking to get a feel for what was important to them in terms of price, home, neighborhood, etc. Their top two criteria were very important to them, but everything else was flexible. They came in for a weekend, and we looked at a ton of homes in a few different neighborhoods. Then, on the drive back to California, they stopped and bought a new-construction home without me. The new home did not meet either of the two criteria which they had made very clear were critcal to them, but it did have a criteria which they decided was more important (but which they had never mentioned to me).
These stories sound a little bit like sour grapes to me, and maybe they are. I've lost more clients in two months than I generally do in a year, so I am a bit frustrated. Have I already met my annual quota for being disappointed? Or is this a sign of things to come - an upward trend in general rudeness and disregard for other people's time? I'm not sure, but I am going to make a change to my business practice.
Buyers, it doesn't matter to me whether you buy the first home you see or the 100th. Whether the home selection process takes a weekend or over a year. Whether you're very easygoing or very particular. I am absolutely committed to helping you find the right home - no matter how hard it is or how long it takes. But, my time is valuable, and I don't bill by the hour. I only get paid when you successfully close on your new home. And for that reason, I am going to start using the buyer-broker employment contract with all my buyers.