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Who is Representing Your Buyers?

July 10 2013

ris representing your buyersWhen I started selling real estate many years ago, I would often write offers and then have my buyers wait in the car while I went inside the home and met with the sellers and their agent. If there was a counteroffer, I would go out to the car, talk it over with my buyers, agree or counter, and then go back in the house and get the deal done. My how things have changed!

Today, we write offers, send them to the seller's agent via email or fax, and then hope they do a good of job representing our buyers. The harsh reality is that the seller's agent is—as they should be—looking out for their client, not ours. They don't even know our buyers. So, my question is simply this: Who should be representing your buyers and how?

Being a huge advocate of technology, I appreciate its benefits greatly. However, in the process of utilizing technology, I sometimes think we allow the convenience of technology tools (like email and fax) to replace good old-fashioned sales. In my humble opinion, it is impossible for us to fax offers to listing agents and hope they do a good job representing our buyers, especially in a competitive multi-offer environment.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, a recent Gallup poll on perceptions of professional integrity shows that only 20 percent of consumers have a high or very high view of the honesty and integrity of real estate brokers and sales associates, suggesting that our profession continues to have its work cut out for it in changing public perceptions. I believe this perception is at least partially due to a lack of professionalism, and sometimes just laziness, on the part of many agents. This perception should serve as an eye-opener to us all, but also as an opportunity for elite agents to truly stand out.

Top agents around the world are taking back control of the negotiation process and truly representing their buyers. Here are some of their best practices that may help us change the value proposition of using a REALTOR® in the eyes of today's consumers:

Include a requirement in your offers that the offer must be presented to the sellers and their agent by you, the buyer's agent, and remind them that they are required to present all offers to their sellers. (Give the listing agent the option to allow you to present your offer via a virtual meeting such as GoToMeeting or

Create a video of the buying family talking about why they love the home and want to make the offer. (This personalizes the offer, so it's not just about price. Including images of the children choosing rooms and playing on the swing would be a nice touch to the video.)

When presenting a less-than-full-price offer (or even a more-than-full-price offer) virtually, go live on the MLS to discuss how you came to the offering price based on real data. Encourage additional input from the listing agent if a different price may be justified.

Always treat the seller's agent with respect. Remember that you and the listing agent are in this together and that the goal is to finalize this transaction and many more in the future. This is not a competitive or confrontational negotiation between enemies, rather a professional negotiation where both parties are looking out for their clients in a professional manner. When done correctly each party feel like they got the best deal for their client and both clients value the input and negotiation skills of their agent. Everyone wins!

Lastly, although many will try, don't let the seller's agent bully you. Responses such as "just fax your offer to me" or "that's not how we do it here" are simply attempts to control the situation. Be prepared with great dialog for these agents and simply remind them that they must ethically present every offer. Let them know nicely that the only way this offer will get presented is if you do it. They need to know that you sincerely want to work with them to find the best way to make it happen.

Real estate agents today have an awesome opportunity to be exceptional, even legendary! I challenge each and every agent to take it to another level in the representation of their buyers. Let's work together to improve the public's perception of the real estate profession, so when your clients are asked about their experience, they are truly "Raving Fans!"

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