If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I can get worked up about agents who don’t communicate, agents who are unethical, bad marketing and even my own real estate association for not holding agents to a higher standard.
I sometimes get criticized for speaking out about the real estate industry’s low standards, the low customer service bar and the questionable ethics I sometimes come across. Some people believe that as an agent, I should just hold hands with the other 40,000 GTA agents, sing Kumbaya and talk about how great we all are. Speaking the truth, they say, will hurt the industry’s reputation.
***News Flash: the real estate industry has a bad reputation already. Telling it like it is won’t make it any more true.***
But today, I want to hold YOU accountable. Yes, YOU, Mr. Seller and Ms. Buyer.
Why do you continue to accept so little from your real estate agent? Why do you…
- …not require your agent to hire a professional to take photos? Are those blurry flip-phone camera photos really doing your home justice?
- …accept listing your home on the MLS as ‘advertising’? Shouldn’t there be more to marketing a home than that?
- …consider it OK for your agent to shop for Buyers at YOUR open house? Shouldn’t they be trying to sell YOUR house?
- …allow your agent to put your home on the MLS with no measurements or comments?
- …hire agents who don’t communicate with you or give you regular status updates?
- …not raise hell when your negotiation skills are better than your agent’s?
- …not require that your agent has experience and expertise in the neighbourhood and kind of home you want to buy?
- …allow your agent to get away with NOT LISTENING TO YOU? How many times does he/she have to bring you to properties that don’t fit what you’re looking for or are above your budget?
- …hire the Secret Agent who makes it impossible for you and other agents to contact them? Do you have any idea how many sales are lost because that agent didn’t want his cell phone and email address public?
- …not break out into a cold sweat when your agent suggests something unethical?
So what can you, Mr. Seller and Ms. Buyer do?
1. Do your research before hiring an agent. Talk to friends and family. Read online reviews (not the testimonials on the agent’s site but real reviews from real people). Interview them before hiring them! Ask them how many homes they’ve sold! Ask them for their marketing plan!
2. Give your agent feedback (even if it’s not positive)! We’re often approached by people who aren’t happy with their agent, but are afraid to say anything. I know a fear of giving negative feedback is very Canadian, but how will these agents ever improve if they don’t know you’re unhappy?
3. Fire the agents who aren’t delivering what they promised. If you’ve listed your house for sale with an agent and they said they would do A, B and C but only did A, hold them accountable!
4. If you have an ethics complaint go to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). It’ll take months and won’t be any fun, but nothing will ever change if people don’t come forward.
5. Tell the brokerage you hired about your experience. While you might be working with one particular agent, you’ve actually hired a brokerage, and somewhere (hopefully not too far away), is a Broker of Record who is responsible for that agent. Tell them what it was like to buy or sell with that agent – good or bad.