There’s always something to howl about

Just wanted to drop this off….

One of the newer agents in our office, Judy Stockton stopped me in the hallway the other day. New is probably a misnomer…she is a savvy veteran REALTOR, just new to our 120. She always seems to have a pleasant smile and an upbeat demeanor, even when things are not easy.

This day her smile seemed especially intense…and I figured it was safe to ask her how things were going. “Great.” she said.

“You are carrying a contract, looks like things are good…” I mused.
“Yep. Actually we just got the inspection report and what the buyers want done and I just dropped it off to the sellers. ”

She then went on to explain her strategy for dealing with difficult inspection reports, low offers, and other such downers that agents often have to deal with. I was impressed enough with her strategy that I want to pass it along.

When she has particularly bad news for a client that could be a deal bender or maybe even breaker, she calls the client and explains that she is on the way to ( insert IMPORTANT MUST DO THING HERE) but just got the inspection report and wanted to drop this off first thing.

Then she explains that she will not EVEN have time to talk about it, but will return in two hours or so right after (insert IMPORTANT MUST DO THING HERE) and then she will be happy to go over the details and ANY questions that they have.

Her words: “The first couple of hours, they get the anger out and the frustration. If I was there, it would be VERY difficult to not get emotionally involved. This way, I come back when they have thought it through a bit and I am not the focal point of their feelings and we can all see it more clearly.”

Why was she smiling? Because (an hour after dropping off the inspection and heading out to do her “task”) her client had just left her a voice mail and said,”I know you were going to come back in a couple of hours, but this thing REALLY has me emotional…I mean I am TICKED…would you be OK with coming over in the morning instead…I may have cooled off by then and we can think through what to do..”

I know this isn’t TECHNOLOGY, MARKETING, SEO or other such, but I just wanted to drop this off…what I thought was a great strategy to deal with some of the tough situations that we find ourselves in these days…


10 Comments so far

  1. monika June 28th, 2008 5:02 pm

    Funny how things change so much yet remain the same. That is one of the things my 1st Broker taught me to do…23 years ago. I still use it and yes it does work.

  2. Hunter Jackson June 28th, 2008 5:46 pm

    wow. that is just awesome.

  3. Tom Vanderwell June 28th, 2008 5:59 pm

    That’s good stuff. Even us lenders can use an idea like that.

    Thanks for sharing it!


  4. Dan Sullivan June 28th, 2008 11:24 pm

    Wow. This post makes me feel ill inside.

    Is this a story that would give confidence to your next buyer client?

    Is this a strategy that Judy Stockton would be happy that you shared?

    My clients actually attend the inspection, and we bond while we get to know their new home. It is probably my favorite part of the process. We sit down and review every issue, and it isn’t always easy. But it sure makes me feel happy that we have turned every stone.

    I am glad that I don’t make a practice of (INSERTING B.S. HERE) to distract my clients.

    Transparency is the Bloodhound way…this little story doesn’t read like an agent who cares about the client more than the paycheck.

    Am I missing something?

  5. Dan Sullivan June 28th, 2008 11:32 pm

    I just realized that you were probably not representing the buyer on this deal.

    As they said on the old SNL news commentary…..”Oh. Never mind”.

  6. Greg Swann June 28th, 2008 11:42 pm

    > I just realized that you were probably not representing the buyer on this deal.

    > As they said on the old SNL news commentary…..”Oh. Never mind”.

    No, you were right, anyway. The tactic itself is manipulative. The better solution, first, is to know what’s going on with the house before it’s listed, and, second, to pre-condition the seller about what to expect from an inspection report. There is no excuse for sellers behaving badly, but, that notwithstanding, I can’t see any justification for their fiduciary representatives trying to maneuver them. If the seller really is unable to behave rationally, it would be sufficient to say, “Remember that I told you that my job is to keep our negotiations focused on houses and money, not emotions. We need to table this discussion until you’ve had a chance to cool off.” There is never anything wrong with telling the truth, but I can’t imagine a circumstance in dealing with a client where I would excuse even a little white lie.

    I understood this as an old school move when I read it earlier today, and, of course, these are the artifices we need to jettison if our clients are to be able to trust us. I didn’t jump on it, but I’m glad you did, Dan.

    Sorry, Eric — and Judy by proxy. I think this is another elephant-in-the-room situation. The best thing we can do is point it out and deal with it. Any other strategy, no matter how seemingly harmless, undermines the trust we are trying to build with our clients.

  7. monika June 29th, 2008 3:35 am

    I’ve had people react right away only to retract a few hours later. Usually after the harm is done. Giving people time to digest and calm down before they make a decision is a good thing. Many times I ask them to please not decide right away. To think on it a few hours or over night. Many times when people take “positions” it’s hard for them to back off and focus on interests. I try to always be that calming factor, in what ever way I can, to help get my sellers to where they need to be.

  8. Malok June 29th, 2008 7:56 am

    One of the most important things in being a good real estate agent is being good at handling other people’s emotions. Buying or selling a new home can often be a stressful situation. Being able to diffuse the situation so logic can prevail is usually a good thing.

  9. Mike Kennedy June 30th, 2008 9:16 am

    When it comes to dealing with unfavorable inspection reports while representing the seller – I’ve had success by talking to the sellers upfront – at the time of the offer and before it becomes a contract – about the “worst case” scenarios for each inspection and what the typical repair/remedy will cost the seller. (Of course I tell the sellers that this is only my best estimate based on past experiences at other houses I have sold and the repairs could end up costing a lot more.)

    By going over this information at the time of offer it usually prepares the seller both emotionally and monetarily for that point in time when the inspections do come back – and it gives the seller one last chance to counter the offered purchase price so they can offset these potential repair costs. Plus, I’ve found this method usually prevents the seller from then coming back to me and asking to reduce the commission to help pay for repairs.

    Even though I don’t practice Judy Stockton’s technique I personally don’t see a problem with it even though it is a little white lie. In simple terms it’s just buying her a two hour cool down period – which in the long run is probably in the best interest of the seller anyways. Judy isn’t intending to completely ignore her duty to go over the inspection report – she just wants her seller to be in a more rational state of mind when they do eventually meet. Let’s face it – managing the emotions of a transaction is an extremely important part of the game – those who do it well wind up with more time for the other important functions in our line of work – like marketing and blogging.

  10. Doug Quance June 30th, 2008 10:13 am

    That scenario could play out without the white lies or drama.

    The listing agent should have been working this scenario long before the inspection report became available.

    If the inspection asked for some stupid items to be addressed, so be it.

    I wouldn’t let my clients stew for a few hours to “cool down” because there is no guarantee that they won’t work themselves up into a lather.

    In today’s market, the seller should already expect the buyer to ask for the moon. An inspection report outlining where said moon can be found should come as no surprise at all.