You Are Never Going to Make Everyone Happy, But Always Do Your Best
This has been a very good summer for my business. My time has been spent with a lot of repeat clients and clients that found me as a result of my hyper-local marketing efforts in the community of Braemar. Practicing to the highest ethical standard has given me a fantastic reputation. When an attorney, known to hate real estate agents, praises you for your ethics and professionalism, you are doing something right. In fact, said attorney insisted I send him some business cards for future clients that may need real estate representation.
You see, like most of the general public, this attorney believes that most agents are out there thinking only of their commissions. I would love to argue that point, but I would lose. Sadly, in my day to day interactions with agents, I hear more talk about commissions and money than discussions of the contract or agency relationships. If it came down to losing a commission or keeping a client in a deal that didn't benefit the client, the commission would probably take precedence for 90% of agents practicing today. Those are likely the 90% that produce 10% of the volume in this business. You can't worry about yourself and expect to make money in real estate. You only come out ahead when you put your clients first. That's how you get referrals and repeat business...thus becoming one of the 10% in the industry producing 90% of the volume.
Unfortunately, while involved with a Buyer-client last month, a dual agency situation arose. That Buyer was under contract to purchase a home with me as their Buyer's Agent. After going under contract, they had second thoughts and identified one of my own listings as superior. You may think that would be a great way to earn two commissions. No thank you. I avoid dual agency at all costs. In Virginia, clients can not be fully represented in a dual agency situation. Those shoulds that need answer, "Should I counter?" "What should I ask for in repairs?" are all questions we need to throw back to the client and say, "What do YOU think?" That's not what we are hired to do, which is why when dual agency arises, I refer the buyers to another agent. The money isn't important. The best interests of the client are.
This Buyer ended up being my first semi-negative review
on Zillow. She felt that I referred her to an agent
who did what I told him to do. Nothing could be further from
the truth. I referred her to an agent who had fixer-upper
knowledge, since the listing she was interested in needed some
work. She felt I stood to make more money by getting her to
buy my own listing. Actually, I would have made
She was moving from a market where, I suppose, settlement dates are a suggestion. At some point, she wanted to push back settlement. She felt rushed to buy, mind you, after a month of moving forward to purchase my listing. In Virginia, settlement date is the date the contract dies and a buyer can be in default if they don't show up with funds and sign their paperwork. When this news was delivered by her agent, she blamed me for telling her agent how to handle the situation. The contract dictated that, along with the Seller's unwillingness to delay settlement as there was no reason to do so.
The last thing I ever want anyone to walk away with is an impression that I did something unethical or against my clients interests. In this case, while this Buyer had been a client for about seventy-two hours, she became another agents' client when she wrote on my listing. I had no more fiduciary responsibility for her. I was working on behalf of the Seller. She was, however, well represented by her agent. Yet, she feels she was not and that her agent was merely an extension of me. Not at all true. Maybe the agent I referred her to was not as vocal about what he was doing to represent her best interests, but I can assure he was. My Seller and I got tired of hearing the repair requests and renegotiation of items. Nonetheless, my Seller did more than he ever planned to do when he took this Buyer's offer.
In her review she draws a dangerous conclusion based on a conversation she had with my Seller, when meeting him quite by accident at the property. My Seller shared that he had only allowed thirty days for the home to be sold and he was thrilled to be selling to her. In her mind, that was justification for why I "pushed" her to buy the house. She had no understanding that the home she wanted was going to sell whether she bought it, or someone else did. There were multiple offers. Furthermore, no one ever pushed her to do anything. She identified this home on her own and wanted it more than anything. I connected her with an agent who could represent HER best interests.
It's a shame. You are never going to make everyone happy, but that doesn't mean you don't try. You do your best. The one thing I am happy about is that she didn't name her Buyer's Agent in the review, who is even more upset about it. Neither of us deserve to be thrown under this bus, but it seems someone has buyer's remorse and needed somewhere to lob her hate. Leave it on my shoulders. There are no shortage of positive reviews to make up for her hollow, misinformed accusations.
Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker-Licensed in VA
2013 Top Producing Agent & 2013 Top Selling Agent, Long & Foster REALTORS® Gainesville, VA
The opinions expressed in this post are those of Chris Ann Cleland, not those of Long & Foster REALTORS®.