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Facebook is littered with groups for real estate agents, and while most of them are great online debates and learning/networking opportunities, the odd discussion makes my skin crawl.
Today I saw a discussion (with over 90 comments) on a public Facebook group about the Pop Tart Agent. It was the first time I’d heard the term “Pop Tart Agent”. From what I can gather, it’s a derogatory term for the real estate agent who drops everything when a buyer or seller calls and wants to see a property or find out how much their home is worth.
The conversation thread started like this:
“In an effort to raise the bar regarding Pop Tart Agents – how do you serve the public, get your listing sold, yet educate consumers that we work by appointment and with prequalified buyers only? I told one buyer yesterday that my schedule was booked until Monday but I’d be happy to get them in early next week – what date or time is good for them – and they hung up on me. Our society is filled with instant gratification. “I want it and I want it now.” That buyer will likely call other agents until one jumps to do the appointment.”
….wait a minute….Isn’t that our job? Isn’t that called ‘service’?
And then agents started making comments like this:
“People who are buying or selling do feel a sense of entitlement. “
“In general, we are our own worst enemy jumping to every request at a moments notice (say, a text by a client needing something) or not qualifying appropriately. I compare it to spoon feeding your children when they are 16.”
“The pop tart agent caters to the Veruca Salt (I want the world, I want the whole world and I want it now) consumer.”
Gobsmacked? Me too.
Real estate is a SERVICE business. Our job is to be AVAILABLE to our clients. Our goal should be to SELL YOUR HOME or help you BUY A HOME even if isn’t convenient for us.
So go-ahead…call me a Pop Tart Agent. I’d like to think my clients deserve that.
Though this particular Facebook group’s discussions are public, I’ve decided to withhold the names of the agents I’ve quoted above. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll realize what business they’re in and re-think what they posted.
Julie Webster says:
If only our sellers and buyers could hear some of the —- “their” agents say… instant gratification has been woven into our society since the advent of Sesame street in ’68. Get over it. It will only get worse. It makes me think of when some Canadians are asked what makes them different than Americans, and some respond by saying “we speak french too!” even though they don’t… And Realtors respond, when asked what makes them worth dealing with? “Service” Yeah, right… what’s that? Call me a Pop Tart(apple cinnamon pls) anytime. I’m with you Melanie… At the end of the day, when clients rave about their agents it usually contains a “they were always there, regardless, wow” kind of comment…
CIndy Jones says:
There are few professions where consumers expected to be seen on a moments notice. An educated and serious buyer shouldn’t expect a Realtor® to drop everything and run out the door to meet them. Asking someone to come to our office or a local public meeting spot first so we can talk with them shouldn’t be an issue. Yes my clients want me to sell their homes but they also have entrusted me to make sure there interests are protected. It’s not protecting them to open the door to just anyone who calls and it’s not safe for any Realtor® to meet a stranger at a home just because they want to see it…NOW.
Robin Sherman says:
I’m all about customer service Melanie (Just ask my happy clients.) but let’s be realistic, unless you are new to the business with only a few customers to make happy, it’s impossible to JUMP and RUN. Not to mention the fact that sellers LIVE in these homes we are selling most of the time and appointments have to be made (They have to pick up the skivvies, board the dog,clean the ice cream off the countertop etc.). As our markets improve people become anxious and the NOW mentality becomes pervasive. It doesn’t change the fact that you – THE AGENT – can only be in one place at one time and the seller deserves the courtesy of some notice. Get real.
Melanie Piche says:
I work in a Seller’s market, and Sellers here are less concerned about their comfort and more concerned with the price. Successful agents here (yes, the experienced ones who are in the top 25 in their markets, in the world’s largest real estate board that has 40,000 members) service their clients. If our schedules are booked, we pass on the buyer to someone else. If our clients’ schedules can’t accommodate, that’s their risk to take of losing a potential buyer. Selling a house is not about the seller’s or the agent’s comfort. It’s about getting the best price and that means being flexible with showings.
Brendan Powell says:
Hey, it’s everyone’s choice to set priorities. If I’ve decided my time is more important than showing a house on short notice, that’s my decision. I take vacations too (but I get someone to cover my business). It just doesn’t seem fair to my clients though–If I were a seller, I’d probably want the agent who IS available when I need them. It’s great that you have life balance, but that won’t help me sell my place!
No service industry client ever complained that the person helping them was TOO available, but NOT being available is one of the most common complaints. Want to stand out from the crowd? Don’t be that person.
As for the sellers, well, of course it’s inconvenient selling your house…welcome to your short experience in the world of sales. We’ve all experienced a business–say a restaurant–that was closed when you wanted to be a customer. “Don’t they want my money?” We say in frustration at the time… that’s what the buyer is saying when you don’t confirm a showing.
Selling your house isn’t that different. Of course it’s a pain, and we all want extra time to prepare, but the reality is that every showing you turn away for your own convenience is one less potential buyer. The choice is theirs, but in the end it’s a matter of motivation and priorities. If you decide to close the store in the face of a potential customer, that’s fine. Businesses do it all the time. Our job is to SELL the place, so all I can do is make sure my client understands the customer mentality: that buyer may never come back. If cleaning up and packing the dog on short notice is too much work to sell the largest asset they own, then you may lose one potential customer. For many that is fine; for others that is a risk not worth taking considering the stakes.
It’s probably worth adding that in the market we are talking about the average days on market is about 30 days, and that good listings rarely last more than a week or two; if the process were to take months (and in many markets it does) then this wouldn’t be as contentious an issue. Almost everyone can suck up some inconvenience for a few weeks when hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake.
Dennis & Kim Downey says:
Real Estate is a service industry and if you don’t service your clients, somebody else will. We get back to our clients as fast as we can and do our best to be as available as possible when they need to see a house.