I went to an open house two weekends ago in Mission Viejo, California. It was a really nice house not on my original list of must-see interesting properties. It was one I just noticed while driving around. The yard sign said "Open House", so I decided to pull over and take a quick look. No realtor was present to greet me. Instead, the proud owner showed me the home throughout and did a pretty good selling job too. Then I glanced at the crisp, glossy brochure. This home was priced over $890,000, so I was already thinking to myself "no fucking way". I mean, some of the homes in that same area had been price much, much cheaper, but this was a really nice home. A lot of nice extras added in. It was the kind of place that just screamed "HELOC!" at you.
The owner knew it was out of my range. Don't ask me how, but it was cool.
I said thanks and was making my way to the door to leave when the owner started to ask me a series of questions, like whether I was working with a Realtor already. When I answered "yes", the owner didn't say "I'm a realtor too", but then proceeded to ask me a lot of questions about what I was looking for in a home and when I intended to buy, and then whether he could start to send me listings.
I'm like, WTF, I just told you I'm "working with a Realtor". I thought that was universal code for Realtors meaning: "Does not compute. No commission opportunity. Say Goodbye and Thank you. Seek New Target to Destroy."
This is not the first time this has happened to me either. I'm sort of new to home shopping in Orange County California, but maybe it shouldn't surprise me to see the amount of client poaching going on out there these days. It doesn't matter how forthright you are, or whether you state clearly "Yes, I'm already working with a Realtor!". I've noticed that many Realtors - and I'd say 1 out of every 2, will still try to sell you their agency over others.
This is probably fine as an attempt to get more business. I understand that completely. But if you're a Realtor, I can't imagine this approach working very well. And for me, you better damn well come prepared with some pretty impressive references. For example. I want to see references from your last 7 to 10 clients (homebuyers), because I'm going to call on them and ask them about your services and performance. I'm also going to ask them about your bedside manner and what sales tactics you employed. Did you pressure them into buying more house than they could afford? Did you tell them the truth about the value of the home they were buying despite what the liar loan "comps" were at the time? Did you recommend the buyer to a favorite, skid-greasing lender of yours, and if so, were they happy with the mortgage product they wound up with?
I think these are fair questions to ask. And no, I'm not expecting many Realtors to cooperate with such requests and voluntarily open closets to me like this. Too many bones might come flying out.
But sales is all about building customer relationships. It's also about building trust.