If you know you will be competing against other agents for a listing, what’s the best strategy: going to see the client first or after all the other agents have made their presentations? In this short video, Bruce Keith presents the pros and cons of each approach.

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  1. It could go either way, of course. I actually had thought about this topic when I posted to the REM discounter article as I answered a question posed by a REM reader.

    My preference typically was to go in first and close. But if the sellers truly wanted to interview others before signing, no problem. It was only fair to the sellers to compare my presentation having been made aware what they could and should expect from any and all reps.

    For many many sellers, they hadn’t bought or sold in many years. It was a whole new experience for them. And the whole system is often foreign to them completely. And in my opinion cannot be reviewed in several minutes: quick, sign here, I have other appointments to get to.

    My presentation offered ample opportunity to have a basis by which to compare. It really didn’t matter to me one way or another. Naturally my pride wanted the listing. But I mostly carried an abundance of terrific, priced right listings. I never had to defend my processes, presented without pressure of any kind. The system is what the system is. My system is not very different from some others, except perhaps attention to finite detail. That’s just my personality.

    What I did find interesting, sometimes sellers didn’t tell me they had already interviewed others, even so I had posed the question. When I got to the seller’s house it was blatantly obvious sometimes since other agent materials were left right out in the open. I never commented on other agents’ skills.

    But here’s a really funny true story… Sellers more than once told me that while interviewing other agents some had said something to this effect: “why did you bother to waste time having me come here; if you are interviewing Carolyne, I might as well leave right now: she has no competition, I am just wasting my time being here.” And each of the agents, having asked the seller who the competition was, just up and left. No kidding! What better compliment than this? From a colleague. WOW! Another agent refused to help a buyer buy a property outside my trading area unless the buyer listed with her, when they had decided to list with me, not her. How that mis-step got handled? I referred the buyer to an agent twenty minutes away who specialized in that location in the next town and I got a referral fee. The agent didn’t just lose a listing she also lost the seller as a buyer. How foolish is that. I had a discussion with that agent but to no avail. Her loss.

    One of the questions I always asked however, was: how long was the interviewing agent here, approximately?

    Before I did any sort of presentation, I asked the owners to accompany me on a walk-through tour of the house before I would agree to sit down and discuss anything at all, having them point out features that were important to them. And noting my own findings, good and bad. I took brief scratch notes as we went from room to room, so I could refer to later. I would do more details later if I got the listing.

    Apparently no one else had done that, I was told. If the seller preferred first to just sit at the table and discuss. I always declined. It’s “my system; how I operate.” And I didn’t sit. I started walking, telling them how wonderful (or not) what I saw was. They were more often than not surprised at my procedures.

    I forewarned sellers that I needed a couple of hours of their dedicated, uninterrupted time. (If they insisted on watching the hockey game while I was there, I cancelled the appointment, left, and asked to rebook at a more appropriate time. Can’t compete with sports in play! And won’t try. I need full concentration: theirs and mine.

    Now they saw why, because it was always their question: what possibly would take so long. (That’s when I learned other agents were in and out in fifteen minutes or so.)

    Did agents go outside and walk the grounds to get that view of the house, (even in rain or snow?) from the back end of the property? Of course I left climbing on the roof to the official appraiser and or building inspector, but agents might see something outside, not visible from the street view, that triggers questions, especially about the roof or possible siding issues or (warped) decks. And I didn’t do attics or crawl spaces where sometimes trouble lurked. But if I smelled a rat, I insisted on a proper pre-building inspection.

    I was always very sensitive to “tilt.” That being floors that ran off in one direction or another, of course leading to the question: why. There are many in the industry. Believe it or not some sellers really hadn’t noticed and were gobsmacked, more than mildly surprised that I had sensed it, under. foot felt it, or is was visible to the naked eye. No one else had mentioned it.

    This is often particularly noticeable where there has been an add-on structure, perhaps built on pylons, a green house kitchen is one example, not anchored on a firm foundation. A quarter inch variable in a 30′ span increases dramatically. ALERT: suggest a pre-listing inspection building inspection.

    Likewise freshly painted (still wet) cement block walls in unfinished basements should trigger questions? Gently touch and if “spongey” make note: paint might be waterproof paint that you can easily see to be true, especially if the evidence is on the paint cans in the cold cellar.

    None of this needs to be a negative conversation; just needs awareness, and consideration. I mostly heard that previous agents had never noticed such things. Why??? Why not???

    One such good example: I had a high-profile retiring lawyer’s house listed. The roof span was very wide and from outside you could see “warbles” between the trusses. I mentioned this and was told the roof (shingles and underlay) was quite new. Hmmm! What to do? The replacement work had cost about 9k due to wide span of the roof.

    The home was immaculate and otherwise well-maintained. Likewise the power system had been replaced and upgraded. The seller insisted the service was 200 amp as he had paid for, and insisted I put that on the listing. I would have anyhow, but not being an electrical expert, something just didn’t seem right when I looked at the power breaker panel. So I insisted on double checking by an expert. Sure enough it was not 200 Amp service. Amazing, the seller was shocked, cause that’s what he had paid for and his invoice confirmed.

    It’s things like this that caused sellers to feel confident to list with me. In this case the lawyer-seller agreed to a 9k rebate to his would-be buyer re the likely request to do another replacing, securing the roof trusses. I put it on the listing.

    The list price was a little aggressive possibly because it was a custom-built beautifully kept home. A little on the plain side inside and out, but spoke quality in the general construction sense, built by an old qualified at the time private builder, and was located on a high-demand street where properties seldom came for sale; there were no real comparables. The piece de resistance? Offer came in at full list price within only a couple of weeks, and didn’t ask for the rebate. And it wasn’t multiple offer season. A plain ordinary market.

    Privately, the sellers and I discussed the rebate situation before their accepting. The lawyer-seller elected to not draw attention to it but agreed if challenged before or at closing, he would honour the rebate noted on the listing. Apparently the co-op agent and or the buyer never read the remarks segment on the listing. The transaction closed and the subject was never ever visited.

    How often would something like that happen? They had interviewed other agents and although they would charge less, they listed with me. I had come highly recommended by a reliable source.

    I loved to work with people who might not always agree with me, but always listened to my sincere advice. These people would have preferred an even higher list price that was already high. But I was able to document why that might prove to be a negative result rather than a positive one: often heard – but we can always reduce if higher price doesn’t work. True, but often not practical if the listing were to become stale merchandise.

    Carolyne L ?


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