Did they like the house or not?

confusing layout smallIn real estate, most agents are expected to provide feedback to the listing agent after showing a property to their buyer/s. On the face of it the concept of giving and receiving this feedback sounds reasonable and practical. If ten buyers see a home and seven of those buyers make a negative comment about the lawn needing to be mowed then it is safe for the sellers to assume this is something they need to address. In all likelihood their realtor told them that the foot high grass in the front yard – complete with weird weeds no one can identify – would not go over well with buyers, but perhaps the seller just needed a second or seventh opinion on the matter before they would agree to take the advice. It happens. Life goes on and the problem gets solved. Or not.

However, feedback sometimes comes with some very specific drawbacks. One such drawback is that it is not unusual for realtors to give feedback that includes issues with the house that the seller cannot easily or even conceivably change. An example of this is a realtor that writes on the feedback form, “The house is nice, but my buyers need five bedrooms instead of three.” This is not helpful feedback to the seller or to the listing agent. And it prompts questions like: Why is the buyer looking at a three bedroom house when they really need five bedrooms? Why is their agent taking them to see houses without the appropriate number of bedrooms? Only the realtor and his or her buyers know the answers to these questions. Meanwhile, the seller may have been copied on the feedback and now they are angry they had to clean their house, leave at 6:30 p.m., and walk their dog around the block for forty-five minutes. In the rain, where they were almost attacked by a power hungry and overly aggressive Chihuahua. And so now the sellers are upset for good reason. Who wouldn’t be irritated/angry/infuriated over something like that?

Then there is feedback that is extremely ambiguous and difficult to decode. For example, an agent took her buyers to do a second showing on one of my listings a while back. When asked how it went she remarked that it “went well”, but then pointed out things the buyers did not like about the house. To a listing agent words like “went well” imply there is possibly further interest in the home. However, when these words are immediately followed with only critical feedback it sends an entirely different message, albeit a confusing one. The listing agent is then left to wonder if maybe the showing really did not go all that well at all. Maybe, just maybe, the second showing was a total bust and the agent for the buyers cannot gather the courage to say that outright. Then, when the listing agent asks for clarification, the agent for the buyers may stop responding to texts, calls, and/or emails entirely. This is how a lot of people in the technology age handle conflict. They simply ignore it and pretend they did not get those two emails, one voicemail message, five texts, one message via social media, and a facetime request.

Upon realizing that the listing agent is not going to get specific answers regarding the showing, he or she is then left with this strange, contradictory feedback to take back to their sellers. The sellers will inevitably ask questions like, “Oh…okay…so are they going to make an offer?” And, “If the showing went well then does it mean they like the house but are not sure if they want to make an offer yet?” Or, “I don’t really understand what this even means…What are they saying exactly?” All of this could have been avoided if the agent for the buyers just admitted the house was not right for their clients.

Another type of feedback worth mentioning occurs when the agent that showed a place to her buyers does not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but also does not want to ignore all feedback requests from the listing agent (or an automated showing service that sends these requests on behalf of the agent). This kind of feedback is not optimal, but it is definitely preferable to ambiguous and/or contradictory feedback because it answers the question as to whether or not the buyers have any further interest in the home. They do not and now the seller knows this after reading or hearing the feedback. The main problem with this feedback, however,  is that it does not shed any light on what the sellers could do to make the home more appealing since it refers to aspects of the home the seller probably cannot change – or at least not easily. Examples of this feedback include:

“My buyers do not like the layout.” An alternative to this one is, “The layout will just not work for my buyers.”

“The footprint is weird.” Or they say, “The buyers don’t like the way the house sits on the lot.”

“My buyers are just barely starting their home search and this is only the twenty-third house they have seen, and so they really want to see everything on the market before they make an offer on a house. And when I say they want to see everything, this includes every new listing that comes on the market with each passing day. Do you have any other listings coming on the market in the next twelve months in this price range that I may show my buyers? I suspect I will be assisting them in their home search for many years to come and I like to plan ahead when possible.”

Again, the above types are preferable to others because 1) it is feedback and the sellers want to know what the buyers thought of their home – or at least they think they do, and 2) it leaves minimal questions about whether or not the sellers should sit on pins and needles, with their phone in hand, waiting for an offer from said buyers that is highly unlikely to come.

At some point in the future I will revisit this topic and discuss other kinds of feedback, such as:

  1. Feedback that upsets or offends the sellers
  2. Feedback that does not seem to apply to the house at all, leaving the listing agent to wonder if the agent for the buyer/s mixed up two homes they showed and is giving feedback on a totally different house
  3. Feedback that is not helpful because it recommends the sellers do things to or with the house that would cost more money than the house is already worth
  4. Other feedback that is so bizarre it is hard to categorize, and probably deserves its very only post

About Melissa Higgins
Client-centered realtor to assist with renting, buying, and selling needs. I work for BHG / The Masiello Group which has a wide range of services to assist in allowing me to help you realize your real estate goals. I serve all of Southern New Hampshire, including Nashua, Merrimack, Bedford, Manchester, Hooksett, Milford, Hollis, Pelham, Brookline, and many others. Contact me to talk about how I may help you.

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