<<< back to article list

The Best Way to Sell Your House.... Make It Easy for a Buyer's Agent (Part 2)

Blog by Amanda Blake | May 11th, 2012

Our success with Lime Green Realty Inc. over the last three years is living proof of how making it easy for a buyer's agent can bring great results. In an industry that is highly competitive we focused on commission savings for the seller on the listing side of the commission structure and did not alter the buyer's agent's commission. This strategy ensured that our sellers would save money while still providing a typical commission to any agent that represented a buyer. On top of that, we have ensured that we make it as easy as possible for the buyer's agent to sell our listings. Here are just some of the things we do:
  1. We do not have an "office phone". Our business line is actually a cell phone so we can receive text messages for showing requests. We encourage agents to text this number 24 hours a day in order to make it as convenient as possible for them to get in to see one of our properties.

  2. We turn our cell phone off when we are done working for the evening so agents can text us at any time and do not have to worry about waking us up if we are sleeping. We have pleasantly surprised several agents by even responding to them at midnight or one am!

  3. We ensure that we have quick access to our sellers for showing requests which is part of the educational process we go through with our sellers. Most of our sellers prefer that we text them showing requests as it allows them to keep a record of the showing in their phone. For families this works great as the primary contact can forward the message to the other members of the family so everyone knows what is going on. This ease of scheduling for our sellers has prevented errors in showing requests. Of the hundreds of showings we book in a month, we have a 2% or less error rate which means a buyer's agent doesn't have to worry about showing up at the house with the seller not being aware of the showing and vice-versa.

  4. Our email is linked to our business cell phone so if an agent has a question, they can email us and we will respond as quickly as possible. If we don't have the answer on hand, we can forward the email or send a text message to our sellers to get a quick response.

  5. In the real estate world, feedback from showings is not mandatory but most buyers' agents understand the trouble a seller has gone through to prepare their home for sale and can appreciate that sellers like to receive feedback. We allow agents 24 hours to give us feedback on a listing before we start making requests from them. This 24 hour period allows them plenty of time to find a few minutes to send the feedback to us. Like any of us who show a lot of properties, it is easy to forget so we send a courtesy text and then a follow up email if the text is not responded to. Some buyer's agents do not provide feedback and therefore we just give our sellers the heads up that we did not get feedback from that particular agent.

  6. We ensure that every one of our listings has a lockbox placed on the house PRIOR to listing the property

  7. Speaking from experience, there is nothing more frustrating than showing a house to a prospective buyer and there is no lockbox on the property. I actually had a buyer that drove down one evening from Edmonton, in the middle of winter, to see one house that had just been listed. I had arranged the showing earlier that day and waited for confirmation from the listing agent to ensure I was okay to show the property. When I arrived that evening with my buyers at the property, there was no lockbox. I called the agent several times, sent text messages, paged her through her office and still no response for 45mins. Once I finally reached the agent, she indicated that we would have to reschedule for the next day as her client was not willing to allow us access to the property any longer. My buyer was so upset that she told me she would be knocking on the seller's door that evening if we didn't get to view the property. After letting the listing agent know this, we were allowed access. Although I felt the house would have been perfect for my buyers, they had such a sour taste in their mouth with that experience that they decided against making an offer on the property.

  8. So it is really important to make sure a lockbox with a key or code for access to the house is placed on the property immediately which makes it easy for an agent to access the property. If a seller does not want a lockbox that is totally understandable but make sure the buyer's agent has access another way. Our lockboxes are linked to a website that informs us via email any time an agent enters one of our listings.

  9. We encourage our sellers to make sure their door locks and knobs work properly. Something as simple as a sticky or tricky door lock can be really frustrating for a buyer's agent and their clients.

  10. We discuss what it means to have your house "show ready" with our sellers as it makes it so much easier on a buyer's agent to preview the house with their clients if the house is clean, organized & de-personalized.

  11. We advise our sellers that they must be available for offers within a 12hr period. Therefore, if our sellers are leaving town or the country for that matter, they must have access to some type of technology in order to be able to deal with any offers that come in. If our sellers are not going to be available for offers for more than 24hrs, we actually remove the listing from the MLS® System until our sellers are available to deal with offers.

  12. When we list a property, we discuss the difference between items that are permanently attached to the wall and ones that are not. This is usually one of the biggest issues on possession day between buyers and sellers. We ensure that any item that is attached to a wall or the exterior of the home, the sellers plan to leave with the home. If there are items our sellers plan to take with them, we ensure that these items are written as exclusions into the listing contract so that a buyer is aware the item will be removed. Some examples of items that have caused issues are tv mounts, free standing cabinets, shelving, coat racks & mirrors.

  13. When a buyer's agent has an offer on one of our listings, we have them fax or email the offer to us with any information they would like accompanied with the offer that we present to our sellers. Our sellers are contacted immediately that an offer has arrived and we wait for a response from our sellers. How long our sellers take to respond is their choice. Usually there is a time limit on the offer and although we advise what the risks are if our sellers do not respond in that time, the actual decision of how the negotiation proceeds is legally our seller's decision.

  14. We do not use our listings to advertise the services we offer as we never want the buyer's agent to feel uncomfortable showing one of our listings because we have propaganda in the house or on our signs related to the benefits of using our company. For instance, just as some real estate companies advertise on their for sale signs that they will guarantee to purchase your home if it does not sell (be careful with this, there is a catch!) we could advertise the amount of money a buyer will receive as cash back if they purchased a listing of ours or one of equal value listed by another agent. But we specifically avoid this type of advertising in our listings out of respect for agents who are showing our properties to their buyers.

  15. We ensure that we have educated ourselves with the MLS® rules so we can explain them to our sellers when a situation calls for it. For example, we have had several of our sellers want to negotiate the buyer's commission during an offer by reducing the amount of commission we are currently advertising in the listing. According to our board rules, this is not allowed so we inform our sellers of this information and do not bring this complexity into the negotiation process. I do realize it is unfortunate the seller has to pay for the buyer's agent commission because buyer's agents should be negotiating commissions with their own agents and then that commission could be added into the purchase price of the property but for now, in Alberta, the seller typically pays the commission.

  16. I believe the best thing we have done to keep things simple for buyer's agents is to require that any seller that wants to use us to list their property must provide a typical buyer's commission to the buyer's agent. In Central Alberta, that works out to a 3% on the first $100,000 and 1.5% on the balance. We do not want to demotivate any buyer's agent from wanting to sell one of our listings. This is the dilemma consumers' face in a commissioned business when they are paying a commission for an agent that is representing another party.

  17. We complete a walk-through of our listing prior to releasing keys to the buyer's agent. In Alberta, walk-throughs are not written into the purchase contract although some boards have decided amongst members that the buyer's agent is allowed to preview the property with their client before money has been released to the seller's lawyer. Unfortunately for Central Alberta, this is not the case, there are no courtesy walk-throughs completed. When a seller lists with us, we require a written agreement from them that allows a Lime Green Realty agent to complete a walk-through of the property either the night before or morning of possession to ensure everything is in satisfactory condition and all personal belongings have been removed from the property. We have also indicated in the agreement that if there are any problems, we will contact the seller's lawyer, buyer's lawyer and buyer's agent. Since introducing this agreement, we have had zero issues with our listings on possession day.

  18. We provide a list of items we recommend our sellers clean for the buyers on possession day even though there is no legal obligation for a seller to have their house clean on possession. We have been very fortunate as most of our clients take great pride in selling their home and ensure that the condition of their property is exceptional (to their standards of course).

  19. In return, we don't ask a lot from buyer's agents except the following which we do not feel is unreasonable:

  20. We expect a minimum of 4 hours' notice on an owner occupied property and would prefer 12 to 24 hours if possible. We realize new listings are going to be an exception because buyers typically want to get in to see new listings quickly.

  21. We expect feedback after an agent has shown one of our listings. If our sellers have been gracious enough to allow you to view their home, we feel it is courteous for a buyer's agent to provide some type of feedback. We realize that a buyer's agent cannot break their fiduciary duties to their buyers but there are ways to provide feedback without breaching fiduciary duties.

  22. We expect to be notified immediately if the agents buyer decides not to view the property, cancels the showing prior to the showing time or if the buyer's agent is running late. If the buyer was a no show and the agent was sitting outside of the property, we do not expect an agent to notify us of this but we do expect to receive that information via feedback within 24hrs of a viewing.

  23. We expect all of the doors to be locked unless the sellers have left a note instructing otherwise.
  24. We expect shoes to be removed when viewing the property, children to be supervised and if anything is damaged, for the buyer's agent to contact us immediately.

  25. We prefer that any dealings with offers are done in writing via text, email or fax which includes negotiations. The old way of doing business was to pick up the phone and have a conversation about the negotiations but too many times, there are miscommunications because someone forgot, misunderstood or misinterpreted the message. Having everything done in writing ensures that nothing is missed and makes things more efficient. It also ensures there are no errors in the transfer of information between agents and their respective clients. I also prefer this method as it eliminates the emotional aspect of negotiation which can lead to personality conflicts which can impede an agents ability to fairly represent their client.

  26. We prefer agents email or text us questions rather than phoning us, it keeps things more organized and prevents miscommunications.

  27. When an offer is provided to our office, the offer must have section 12 of the purchase contract filled in which permits communication between the representatives. Over the last 12 months, we are seeing more and more offers being presented with this information missing.
After dealing with hundreds of listings and representing hundreds of buyers myself since 2006, I have realized that the more simple things are and the more organized agents are, the more it benefits the buyers and sellers and enhances their experience working with an agent in organized real estate.