How often does money cloud judgement? All too often I would guess.
The impetus for this post is a transaction in which I was recently involved where buyers purchased a property that I wasn’t particularly excited about. Who cares about my opinion? Oddly, most of my clients. That said, my clients ultimately make the final decision based on how a space suits their needs. Although I expressed my negative views about the property, it was indeed challenging to remove my personal opinions of layout, light and location to provide an objective and professional opinion of the "quality" of the purchase as it applied to the buyers. They were looking for the maximum amount of space they could find for the least amount of money and this apartment served that purpose and more. So the fact that I wouldn’t live there had absolutely nothing to do with this transaction.
In my effort to provide honest feedback and advice, I struggled a bit with exactly what I should tell them and what I should keep to myself all the while staying mindful of the fact that the transaction is less important than the relationship. I would never withold my opinions in favor of selling a property I felt wasn’t "right" for my clients, but I suspect many in my industry would. In fact, I have seen colleagues show a property I was representing at 6% commission and have nothing positive to say about it. Some of those same colleagues revisited the property with different clients when we were offering 8% commission and waxed eloquently about how wonderful the property was. A direct result of how the sale would affect their bottom line.
In order to avoid this situation in my own business, I go to great lengths to understand my clients position and perspective in searching for their next home. I try to keep my personal preferences out of the equation unless I’m directly asked for those thoughts. It’s not about me, but about how this property works for the clients and it isn’t always so easy to separate the two.
So if you’re a buyer working with an agent to find that next home, ask yourself or your agent the following questions:
- Do you trust this agent to give you honest feedback and advice based on your needs?
- Do you suspect the agent would tell you anything to close a transaction?
- Ask your agent to prepare a market analysis of any property that you’re considering and do your own homework with a site like StreetEasy.com.
- Have you been thorough and specific with the agent regarding your needs?
- Is the agent your working with transaction oriented or relationship oriented? Ask them how long they typically work with buyers. In my experience, those who spend more time with buyers are typically more relationship oriented and that’s what you want. Of course there are also those who are so damn good and this that they find buyers what they want very expeditously.