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February 13, 2013

What Can I Say to the Client of Another Agent?

by mark mclean

meetingphotoHappy mid February. My how time flies when you are busy. Between preparing for our next Bosley U, agent and budget meetings, and my duties at the Toronto Real Estate Board, I have to admit that I was less than prepared for today’s weekly meeting. Then, completely by chance, I got a call from a friend asking for my help. He has a friend with a beautiful condo downtown. It has been on the market for two months already and the friend is starting to wonder if the agent is missing something. According to him the price is comparable to what has sold and is currently available. So I got to thinking, what if the owner had called me directly? What could I tell this person? Could I say anything? Presto….meeting topic!

Well if you are any agent worth your salt, you know that our profession doesn’t allow us to interfere with contracts of other agents. Our Code of Ethics says that a registrant who knows that a person is a client of another agent should only communicate with the person through the agent unless the agent consents in writing. I started throwing lots of “what ifs” into the crowd. What if the client wanted you to give them home staging advice? Would you provide it? What if the seller wanted to know how to cancel a listing so that he could give you the listing? Would you tell him? It doesn’t seem like providing that information is interfering but then again….

Here is one that came up in our meeting. An agent has just sold a home well out-of-town but during the home inspection the owners asked for his card. They explained that they were moving downtown and while it may have been understood by their agent that he was going to help them find something, they would prefer to work with an agent who worked downtown. No BRA was signed, but ethics aside, could this agent start talking about the downtown market with these people?

Let’s look at this scenario; you’ve just shown a house. As you are saying goodbye to your clients, the owner shows up and starts asking you for feedback on the showing. What would you say? Would you say anything? What if they asked you something specific like did the basement smell turn them off? What if that client wanted to know your take on the market?

The reality is that it is pretty easy to engage in a conversation with someone else’s client. It’s in the Realtor’s  DNA to want to stop and chat. But you should remember this rule, engage brain before putting mouth in gear!  It is often a tough call. When someone else’s client wants to talk to you, we instinctively think the door to a new opportunity is opening. Well, some people might argue that NOT engaging would make our business seem slightly sinister. A Seller might ask “what are you hiding from me”? If we are going around saying we are professional and knowledgeable agents then surely you have a better response than “I’m sorry I’m not allowed to talk to you, please ask your agent”. Perhaps your tact should be, “Mr Seller, I appreciate your concerns however you have a relationship with another agent whom I respect and it is important for me to keep our ethical bond intact. I would encourage you to ask him your questions yourself, conversely I would be more than happy to have him call you”.

And going back to the beginning of this story. Could I tell my friend why the listing hasn’t sold knowing full well that he would relate that information back to the owner? And what is my responsibility if the owner tells his agent that Mark McLean said they were marketing it all wrong? Clearly there are somethings that you can talk about, but when in doubt, bite your tongue. Yes it will require some serious will power.

Enjoy your week!

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