Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feedback Backlash

I commented briefly in January about buyers' feedback. Feedback is an ingrained part of the real estate listing process, intended to assist sellers market their properties by providing comments and suggestions from buyers who have viewed the property. I have never heard another agent question the usefulness of the practice. Most sellers seem to embrace the idea of getting comments from potential buyers and their agents. I have always questioned the benefit of feedback and just had my contrary opinion reinforced when an agent told me about an encounter she had at an open house this past weekend. A visitor to the open house told her that they would not do business with the agent or her brokerage because she had left negative feedback when she showed this person's property months earlier. The feedback was from a buyer who looked at the property and didn't like the floors. The seller's agent asked for honest feedback and the buyer's agent relayed her client's comments. For that she and her brokerage are blacklisted and mistrusted. Hearing this I think buyer's agents would be well-advised to never leave critical feedback lest their honesty damage them with unreasonable sellers. That brings up another danger of feedback. What does an over-priced seller do with feedback that says her price is just right? Never mind that it may have come from a well-meaning but unaware buyer's agent. She will likely resist lowering her price to a fair level and may not sell her property.

Here's my take on buyer feedback. The way it works these days is usually that the buyers' agents receive an email or fax asking for comments on any listing they show including opinion of price, condition, how well it showed and any comments. Any informed seller already knows whether she is priced right and is aware of the condition of the property, so, feedback is usually worthless except to report new damage to vacant properties. Feedback does, however, provide an opportunity to buyers and buyer's agents. Is any good buyer's agent going to leave feedback suggesting that the price is too low or even just right? Never. Why not take an opportunity to plant a seed of doubt in the seller's head about the price. It may pay dividends when an offer is presented. Considering the open house encounter I think my new feedback routine will be to shower praise about the condition of the property regardless of my client's opinion of it but continue to suggest that the price is too high. That way I don't insult any sellers who are merely fishing for compliments but at the same time chip away at their resolve about their price. Sellers, you're better off listening to your agent and/or doing your own research and dismissing feedback as unreliable and sometimes intended to influence your perception of the value of your property. If you don't trust your agent's opinion get a new one.

"If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we'd be so simple we couldn't." ___unknown