Active Rain January 13, 2011

Feedback Craziness

As an agent with over 40 listings at any given time I understand the seller’s need to know how showings go. I do too. Stakes are high and clients want feedback. My listings have an automated system that sends two emails to all showing agents, but about 2/3 of showings do not get a response. That in and of itself is feedback: dead end. I am not exactly batting 1.000 on giving feedback from my own buyers, but one automated survey yesterday took the cake. It was like an exam with multiple choice questions followed by a written section. I kid you not- just look at the screenshot. 

Feedback surveys like this are time consuming and unnecessaryYou might notice the error box at the top right. It popped up every time I tried to submit my perfectly clear feedback because I had to answer each of the 5 questions with a 6-choice drop box, asking both my and the buyer’s thoughts. For price, the choices ranged from “very underpriced” (who would ever say that?) to “very overpriced.” For how the property showed, the choices were more nuanced. And I can’t submit it without answering everything! 

This is a bit much. 

Feedback, which has always more or less been a courtesy to tell the listing agent and seller what they may not know, has evolved into a debriefing session. And if an agent shows 15-20 homes per week it can get pretty time consuming. Most feedback is not really helpful anyway. People know if they have a small back yard or that the bathroom is from 1970. They know the leftover Yak Fondue on the counter smells like sour milk in a gym locker. And there is no Rotweiller-scented pot pourri for a very good reason. Making the feedback look like the Archdiocese high school entry exam is overkill for conveying such banalities. 

But beyond that, the courtesy (yes, that is what it is- I am not obligated to divulge my client’s thoughts, and as a matter of fact I’d prefer not to) of feedback is being taken too far with these sorts of tactics. Many buyer agents are poker faced, which is actually smart in business. And I have gotten phone calls from fellow listing agents arguing with me over my feedback as if that would make the home appealing to my people. It won’t. Showing agents have one obligation on homes they show, and that is to leave the house as they found it. The seller is owed nothing beyond that- I wish it were different, but it is true. The seller is not the buyer agent’s client. They have different rules. 

Sellers should understand a few things. 

  • Feedback is a courtesy that agents are not obligated to give.
  • Showing agents are also not obligated to tell what a house is worth or give the listing agent advice.
  • Buyer agents don’t work for the seller. They often keep the buyer’s thoughts private.

I get that seller clients want follow up on all showings and questions answered thoroughly. But that’s not business; if you do that to a girl who doesn’t agree to a second date, it makes you a stalker.  Sellers should be at peace with 2/3 of the feedback being a silent declination, because that is 100% accurate. It is best to not dwell on those who aren’t responding, because the reasons are typically personal and seldom enlightening. A listing agent’s time is better spent finding another buyer who is interested enough to respond with an offer.