Do We ‘Own’ Our Prospects?

Posted on May 09, 2011

I do my best to qualify buyers before beginning the house hunting process. Whether it be at an open house or a sign call, after 30+ years in the business, I have my list of questions readily at hand…One of the first questions I ask a guest at an open house, or an incoming phone inquiry is this, “Are you working with another real estate agent?” Sometimes the answer is ‘no’, and sometimes the answer is ‘yes’…It doesn’t mean I am not going to help them, or not answer their questions–it just establishes this unspoken boundary right from the start. If they tell me they are working with another agent typically I will ask them who the agent is…and if it is someone I know, I always tell them that they are working with a great agent, and how wonderful it is that they are loyal. This makes them feel good…you know, confirming that they have a great agent, and it also makes them feel less guilty about calling another agent to get answers to a few questions if their own agent is unavailable. It’s happened to all of us–The buyer phones us to ask about a listing they saw on the Internet…we are unavailable so they figure, what harm can it do to just call the other agent…and it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Most people still really don’t understand how our business works exactly. Think how nice the world would be if we all just say nice things about each other, and help each other out…Alas, that is not always the case. So, what is proper etiquette? What is ethical?

Recently, an agent at another company received just such a call from a past customer of The Harris Peppe Team. This particular prospect has completed four transactions with us over the years. He told the other agent that he was working with us. [The reason he called the other agent was because he thought we did not have updated, accurate information about a listing which had been under contract, but had fallen through.] The point of my blog post is this: The other agent, even after knowing that the prospect was ‘our’ customer continued to contact him, and at one point said that his “knowledge and time was valuable”, demanding to be told “who are you going to do this deal with, me or Chip Harris?” This was an unfortunate situation and a poor reflection of what can happen in our industry if we don’t treat people the way we want to be treated–Needless to say, our customer was very uncomfortable with this, and he did not put an offer in on that agent’s listing! There’s a moral there, too!

So, “Do We Own Our Prospects?” No, we do not. But, I can assure you this: If another real estate agent’s prospect calls me to inquire about the status of a listing, or information about a home that I am sitting open, I will be sure to tell them that you are a great agent…unless of course, you’re the one that this blog post is about…then I just won’t say anything.

Thank you, and Make it a GREAT day!

The Naples Real Estate Blogger