Happy 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!
Happy Wednesday. It feels like it has been weeks since my last post. Blame it on our Summer schedule. Well, just because we are meeting less doesn’t mean that we are working less. This week’s Mastermind was one of the liveliest we’ve had in a while.
There are two ways to be great at what you do; One is to practice the habits of successful people and the other is to NOT do what unsuccessful people do. You might say that these are kind of the same thing, but really they are not. Mastermind is the nearest thing we have to a mentoring program. Agents talk about different strategies for dealing with certain situations, and through discussions about other agent missteps we make mental notes and learn not to make the same mistakes. If we can learn from our own mistakes perhaps we can learn even more from the mistakes of others.
Today’s topic was aptly named “Count the Infractions”. An agent told the story of a deal that she pulled out of the fire. Unfortunately I will have to save the details of that story for another day as there will be a serious RECO complaint coming down the pipe against at least two other real estate brokerages. I will tell you that we had two of Toronto’s finest in our offices taking notes.
The story did segue perfectly into a discussion about when agents need to complain to our governing bodies. There have been a number of high-profile stories in the media but the truth is we need to police our industry better and the only way to do that is to let RECO know that problems exist. Take, for example this little story. We had a walk-in yesterday looking for a high end rental. The agent on duty started off the interview by getting some background information from the person. He asked her questions like how long she had you been looking, had she seen anything she liked and if she had offered on anything.etc, etc. As it turned out she had put an offer in on a property through another agent. He asked if a BRA was signed. She asked what that was. He explained it in detail. Luckily she had a PDF of the offer on her phone and showed it to our agent. Sure enough there was a BRA as part of the file. She said that the agent did not explain it at all. He simply told her that it was just a standard form. In effect she had signed the agreement that established a relationship with the agent for the next three months. Well you might ask yourself who signs something without reading it first? Fine. One point in the agent’s favour. But you might also ask yourself what kind of agent doesn’t explain the paperwork they are asking a client to sign? Two points to the tenant. It seems like a professional and ethical agent would take the time to walk a client through everything. So the question for everyone to weigh in on is this; Is that agent guilty of an infraction under RECO? do you think he should be in front of the Registrar? As always I would love to hear your comments.
Have a great week.
When the market is as hot as it has been, every buyer out there is looking for a little edge. And why not? After many failed attempts, buyers will resort to nearly anything to win that house. Buyer fatigue is a real malady. Bully offers are just the tip of the iceberg. A few weeks ago I proposed a possibility that one buyer might eventually resort to paying off another buyer to rescind his offer. It hasn’t happened as far as I know but desperate times calls for desperate measures. And when buyers are desperate, agents can get raked over the coals. The pressure is on and their commissions are at stake.
Here’s what I mean; More than ever, buyers are contacting listing agents directly because they believe working with them will not only give them the inside scoop but will also help them get the house for less. I suppose, in a perfect world, that might happen but it is important for buyer and agent to both recognize that it is easy to make costly mistakes. Working with the listing agent means the buyer may accept that you are working for both parties (multiple representation). Maybe not a terrible thing but you needs to be especially vigilant not to divulge a sellers motivation. Seems easy enough, but let’s say the buyer asks why they are selling. Can you answer honestly? What if the seller lost his job and you let it slip out. Would you be liable in any way?
What if a buyer has a previous Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) with another broker but got frustrated and bought through you directly? Did you ask the right questions? Simply asking if the buyer if he has signed a BRA before is not enough and will not hold up in arbitration. This is not the time to be shy so consider asking these questions;
- Have you signed a BRA before?
- Has this form been explained to you before?
- Have you been looking for a long time?
- Have you seen houses with other agents?
- Have you put any offers on any properties?
- Who did you work with so I can call them?
While these might seem like painful questions to ask, I can guarantee that it will be even more painful when you have to turn over your entire commission to an agent with a previous BRA in place. Explaining the BRA is the key. In the heat of a tight time line and quick decision-making, agents have been known to simply shove the agreement in front of a client to sign without taking adequate time to explain it in full detail. Again, one defense we often hear from buyers is ” oh yeah I signed a bunch of stuff because the agent told me to”. Take the time to explain the form to a buyer and let them know that they may be required to pay two commissions if they sign two BRAs.