A recurring theme within the real estate industry
The speed with which real estate professionals should respond to inquiries via the phone and web has been a reccurring theme for some time, and according to some – speed is a very large part of the recipe for success. When looking at houses online, you will often find contact forms where consumers can email or call the listed agent for more information about a specific property. Some of these inquiries get routed to “buyer agents” who have paid for placement on that listing and some go to the listing agent or brokerage themselves who were hired to sell the property. They go to a variety of places really, something I am confident that consumers do not fully understand as they use the internet to research homes. So I am sure you are thinking, why do they need to know?
This perspective might be met with some resistance by my peers, but I firmly believe that fast response times aren’t a real problem and claiming that they are part of the recipe for success is a bit short sighted. Fast response times are surely not going to solve the perception problem we have as an industry – in fact, I believe it will just perpetuate it. Technology already allows us to send auto-responder emails, text messages, and voicemail options to every inbound inquiry we receive, and soon that competitive advantage will be non-existent. And then, what will be the next trick, the next piece of advice or silver bullet the hundreds of real estate consultants out there give to us as agents?
Why should calling someone back within 10 minutes be my competitive advantage when consumers don’t even know who they are calling in the first place? Surely that’s not the way to build a sustainable business. Let’s face it, buying gum is an impulse purchase, not a home so why should I have to be subject to this criteria? Now speed is what separates a good agent from a bad one? I don’t think so.
Where the focus should truly be
So what is the real challenge? I think it’s about better preparing consumers to focus more on what their desired outcome of the contact really is and by setting up the initial introductions with the right expectations. Are they really prepared to see the one property they’ve been eyeing for a few days? Are they making a big move to another city and need a professional consultation or multi-day tour of neighborhoods and homes, or do they simply have a clarifying question about some of the home features itself?
Further, if the consumer is already working with an agent, they need to be very thoughtful about contacting other agents (if at all). Essentially, your agent should be the information hub of the entire home buying experience. Contacting other agents can be problematic as most of them view every contact as a lead generation opportunity for more business. Consumers can avoid these confusing situations by evaluating and committing to an agent independent of the home research process itself.
Choose your own adventure
If consumers get relegated to just clicking a contact button not knowing (or caring) who might be on the other end, or continue to make cross country trips to evaluate properties and expect to get top notch service the second they land without having contacted someone in advance, it is going to set us all up for failure.
Simply responding quickly to the first inquiry is no longer a service level advantage. If consumers decide this is the difference maker in selecting a real estate professional, then they’re only short changing themselves. Looking at homes is the exciting part of the home-buying experience, but selecting the right agent for the job is often the most important.
The consumer holds the keys when it comes to creating their own best experience. A little due diligence on their own part can be the difference between a nightmare and a dream home come true.