As brokers, you want your agents to have successful client relationships and transactions. But just like with marriages and friendships, breakups happen when things can’t be worked out.
The good news is that 72 percent of buyers last year said they would “definitely” use their agent again, according to the 2015 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. But the rest found reason to take their business to another professional.
“I’ve worked with buyers who previously worked with other agents who weren’t doing anything for them,” says Joe Peffer, GRI, broker of record at Delicious Real Estate in Columbus, Ohio. “Why wouldn’t someone do exactly what their clients want?”
There are plenty of reasons why clients fire their agents. Here are some biggies that brokers might be able to curtail in their agents with some tender, loving care — or a little discipline:
1. Laziness. Does your agent have the right motivation for the real estate industry? There’s no room for laziness when it comes to working with buyers or sellers, Peffer says. Make sure new recruits understand the time commitment real estate requires. And if seasoned agents are no longer following through for their clients, it might be time to send them packing. “Some people just get into the real estate career because they think it is easy money,” Peffer says. “You can make money, but you have to work for it.”
2. Slow to respond. In this high-tech world of smartphones and instant gratification, buyers and sellers expect their agents to respond to their requests in a timely fashion. Most clients understand that response times can vary within reason. But if voicemails, emails, or texts go unanswered for days, clients will quickly become dissatisfied. Let your agents know that they need to establish realistic expectations for communication at the beginning of their relationship with a client – and follow through. Waiting until even the next day for a response is not acceptable to many people, and not getting back to a client for several days can be grounds for dismissal in the eyes of the customer.
3. Lack of attention. “Attention is the simplest act of love,” says Richard Stanley, broker and estates director at Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles. “Some agents just don’t give the personal attention they need to.” Even in this digital era, being there in person goes a long way with clients. Sometimes it isn’t appropriate to communicate by email or text, Stanley says. In those cases, agents need to pick up the phone or set up a face-to-face meeting to provide adequate service. Giving attention also means showing up. For example, Stanley says he recently closed three deals for buyers in four weeks. But he never saw any of the listing agents involved, and none of them showed up to the closings. “This is a service industry, and they are short-changing clients when they aren’t being the eyes and ears of their sellers,” he says.
4. Overpromising, underdelivering. Stanley says many agents in his area list their accomplishments in their marketing. But agents need to be honest in their advertising and be careful not to set false expectations for prospects. For instance, if you advertise that you have 150 listings but fail to mention your team is helping you sell those houses, then it’s leading prospects to believe that you’ll be the agent they work with when it actually could be a member of your team, Stanley says. This leads to mistrust among the public, he says. Overpromising can also happen during listing presentations. If agents can’t deliver on everything they say they will do, then advise your agents not to say it.
5. Not listening. When buyers say their budget is only $250,000 but the agent keeps showing them $300,000 houses, something just isn’t adding up. Make sure your agents are listening to all their clients’ needs and wants. Pushing buyers into a higher price point just to get a slightly larger commission check is severely problematic and will get your agents fired.
6. Bad negotiation skills. “In this market, you need to act quickly,” Peffer says. “In so many neighborhoods, houses are flying off the shelf.” But some buyers aren’t able to compete with the highest offer in a multiple-bid situation. That’s when they need good counseling from their agents, who better have the skill set required for this type of market, he says. “They need to know what to offer and what incentives the seller is looking for besides price.”
7. Lack of trust. Just like in a marriage, when a client begins to question his or her trust in an agent, things can fall apart. Buying or selling a house is an expensive endeavor, and customers need someone they believe in. It’s time for them to move on if their agent breaks that trust, Stanley says. If you’re a broker whose agent gets fired, it might be time to have a frank conversation about expectations. Sometimes it might not be their fault at all; the client might have been a difficult person to satisfy or communicate with. Nevertheless, agents should recognize when a relationship is starting to break down, and they should feel free to approach their broker if they need help with a client. “One of the talents of a good manager is to mediate problems between agents and clients,” Stanley says.