I had a meeting last week with David Maider, a broker with Windermere Real Estate. Dave was in my coaching program for brokers last year and he has always had great ideas and strong opinions about how to succeed in the real estate business. As a result, he's cultivated a strong and successful group of agents in his office.
Dave mentioned something that he and I both find frustrating: Many agents no longer preview homes before showing them to their buyers.
Many agents set up buying tours by simply emailing the tour information. Then they just let the buyers go look on their own.
While this may be the way that the client wants to look for their home, as an agent you still should have previewed each and every one of those homes before ever sending the information to your clients.
If you're not previewing homes, then you are not fully prepared with either opinions or facts. Without having seen the properties yourself, you can't have a knowledgeable discussion about them with your clients. If this is how you operate, then why does the client need you anyway?
Even sadder, I can't tell you how many agents have never previewed the homes that are on their own tour when they go out showing homes.
Can you believe this?
They actually get in their cars with potential clients without actually having seen the properties they're going to visit. Every time I hear about this, I am astounded-and yet I continually collect evidence that this behavior continues.
As if that wasn't bad enough, I've heard from buyers that they've been out in a vehicle with the agent and become lost. The agent didn't know exactly how to get to the property or their GPS didn't work properly. This happens more often than I can believe.
I have nothing against GPS systems. But if you're going to take people on a tour-people you supposedly want to impress - then get in your car and drive the neighborhood before-hand. Driving the neighborhood prior to showing clients also allows you to gather information about FSBOs in the area, which helps make you look prepared and knowledgeable about the area. Know what you're getting into.
And at least know how to get there! People buy neighborhoods, not just homes. How embarrassing to you if you don't even know how to get to the neighborhood! This speaks volumes about your expertise or lack thereof.
It's like having a car salesperson drag you all over the lot looking for the vehicle he was going to show you. And then you find out he hasn't even seen it! It was just listed on an inventory sheet in his office. This actually happened to me. Did I buy from this guy? Absolutely not!
If you don't know your product, then you should not be showing it. Period. End of story.
And I don't want to hear anyone's excuses that they don't have enough time. Do you know how much time you can save yourself by previewing?
Previewing also prevents the nightmare scenario of driving up to the house and the client says, "That looks nothing like the photos or the description. We don't even want to see it."
Buyers don't take lightly the fact that an agent is wasting their time if the home isn't anything like the photos or description. If the agent had previewed the home - or at least driven the neighborhood--this could have been prevented.
What if you live in a rural area? Then it's even more important for you to know your inventory because you have less new product that comes on the market. This means that if buyers are vying for that product, you'd better act more quickly than most agents. If you're first and you're fast, you will win with your clients.
Previewing is an act of five-star customer service. When I was an active agent, there were many times I had been out previewing and I said, "Oh my goodness! This is perfect for Mr. and Mrs. Smith."
I would call up the Smiths and say, "This home just came on the market. I just previewed it. It is everything you asked for. You should get out and see it today!" Talk about urgency and custom care. That's giving the client attention to their exact needs. That's great service. That's great selling.
Dave and I also talked about a personal challenge to agents. Here it is: The moment you know a listing has come on the market, try to get out and preview that listing before it gets announced by the automatic system.
Get out there. Be first. Be fast. Be a pro.
If you're guilty of ever showing the client a home you've never walked into, then shame on you. Take it up a notch, agents. Take it to the next level starting today.