Active Rain November 17, 2010

Why Did I Call Your Broker? Because It’s Not My Job to Train You.

Max, caught red pawed on the couchMaking an offer in New York is different from most parts of the country because purchase and sale contracts are not prepared by agents, but by attorneys after agreement and inspections. Therefore, offers vary from nice clean memos with clear terms on company letterhead to a phone call. Memos are great. Emails are OK. Phone calls are hated. Our typical seller client will not render a decision until all terms have been put in writing and a pre approval is furnished. There is no sense in disclosing an accepted offer and possibly scaring a good buyer away if the current “buyer” ends up not being able to buy a week or month down the road. 

For a purchase, therefore, a pre approval is a must to accompany an offer. For a rental, a completed application and summary page of a credit report is also absolutely necessary. When an agent representing a buyer or tenant can’t grasp these rather basic requirements, I’ll reach out to their broker or manager. It isn’t a big deal, or a tattle tale kind of thing. I would want to know if I needed to guide one of my agents, frankly, rather than have them flail in the wind. I am, after all, liable for everything they do. And I do get a piece of the commission they’ll bring in. I owe them some value and guidance. 

So, most of the time I get a big thank you from my colleague broker or manager, and things get handled. Recently, I called a colleague broker and he seemed less than interested to know the details. I don’t know if he was in the middle of something or just not into it, but he asked me to email what I wanted and he’d take care of it. The agent called me later, not angry, but disappointed that I spoke with the broker. I was assured I could have gone to him and explained things. 

Well, that’s just the thing. It is not my job to take the time to explain to another broker’s agent how to do their work. As a matter of fact, I doubt my clients would really appreciate my time going there either. My job is not to teach or train my competition, and if the broker is presumably taking a 30-50% chunk of the fee, he ought to be bringing some value to the table. If that move is perceived as getting them in trouble with their broker, they might want to change brokers. If an agent isn’t clear on how to do things, I blame their broker before I blame the agent. It is the broker’s responsibility to have their agents in the field operating competently. Brokers who can’t live with that fact will have a best friend called “attrition.”