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Private Showing Etiquette as a Listing Agent in NYC

Posted by HomeDax Team on January 2, 2018
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The keys to being a successful buyer’s agent in NYC are being efficient with your time and communicating effectively with your seller and both buyers and buyer’s agents. In this training article, we discuss private showing etiquette and offer tips for how to intelligently approach private showings as a listing agent in NYC.

The keys to being a successful buyer’s agent in NYC are being efficient with your time and communicating effectively with your seller and both buyers and buyer’s agents. In this training article, we discuss private showing etiquette and offer tips for how to intelligently approach private showings as a listing agent in NYC.

Speak to the buyer’s agent before confirming an appointment

Before agreeing to a private showing, it’s critical that you learn about the buyer and make sure that he or she is seriously interested in your listing. You may be thinking: isn’t it obvious that a buyer is interested in my listing if their buyer’s agent just emailed me requesting an appointment? Surprisingly, the answer is NO.

Why would a buyer request a private showing if he/she is not interested in my listing?


Possibility 1: The Buyer Didn’t Review the Listing

A buyer will often look at one picture and immediately say that he or she wants to view a listing. This type of trigger-happy buyer has often failed to check whether other aspects of the listing fit into his or her search criteria, such as whether or not the building has an elevator.

If you agree to a showing without asking the buyer any questions beforehand, there’s a chance that the buyer will show up and tell you within one minute that he or she is not interested in the unit. You will therefore have wasted a large portion of your day for essentially zero return.

Speaking with a buyer’s agent before agreeing to a private showing can help you figure out whether or not the buyer is serious about your listing. Knowing which questions to ask depends on the nature of the listing you are marketing. Is your listing on the ground floor? Does the unit require a gut-renovation? Is there a high assessment?

For example, if your listing is on the ground floor you should probably call and ask the buyer’s agent if his or her client is okay with garden-level units. If your unit has above-average monthly maintenance, you should probably discuss this with the buyer’s agent BEFORE you agree to a private showing!

If you agree to a showing without asking the buyer any questions beforehand, there’s a chance that the buyer will show up and tell you within one minute that he or she is not interested in the unit. You will therefore have wasted a large portion of your day for essentially zero return.

Speaking with a buyer’s agent before agreeing to a private showing can help you figure out whether or not the buyer is serious about your listing.

Knowing which questions to ask depends on the nature of the listing you are marketing. Is your listing on the ground floor? Does the unit require a gut-renovation? Is there a high assessment?

For example, if your listing is on the ground floor you should probably call and ask the buyer’s agent if his or her client is okay with garden-level units. If your unit has above-average monthly maintenance, you should probably discuss this with the buyer’s agent BEFORE you agree to a private showing!

Here are the most common items buyers and buyer’s agents forget to check before requesting a private showing:


Elevator vs. walk-up – is the buyer okay with a 4th floor walk-up?

Carrying Costs- this unit has a $400/month assessment. Is your buyer aware?

Dishwasher – this unit does not have a dishwasher. Does your client require one?

Bedroom Size – the bedroom does not fit a king bed. Is that okay with your buyer?

Noise – this unit faces a loud, two-way street. Is the buyer okay with street noise?

In conclusion, it’s critical that you call and actually speak with a buyer’s agent before you agree to re-arrange your entire day around a private showing. The most successful listing agents in NYC answer emails and call back interested buyers and buyers’ agents within five minutes of the initial inquiry.

 

Possibility 2: The Buyer’s Agent Is Unfamiliar with His or Her Client


It’s quite common to see instances where a buyer’s agent knows virtually nothing about his or her client. This is becoming an increasingly common trend as a result of the new ways buyer’s agents are obtaining clients, such as through StreetEasy’s paid lead program.

In the case of StreetEasy, buyers click ‘contact’ on a listing thinking that they are contacting the listing agent when in reality they are being re-routed to a buyer’s agent. When this buyer’s agent contacts you requesting an appointment, this agent may have never even spoken with the buyer!

By calling the buyer’s agent, you can detect how familiar the buyer’s agent is with the buyer. If the buyer’s agent doesn’t know whether the client is okay with a 5th floor walk-up, for example, you should ask him or her to confirm with the buyer first before you agree to show the apartment.

 

Confirm the buyer's name before agreeing to the appointment

You must confirm the full name of the buyer before agreeing to an appointment. As a general rule, you should never share your time with a potential buyer if they won’t share their name with you. Showing the listing to a stranger (whose name you don’t know) is also a security risk for both you and the seller.

The most important reason why you need to confirm a buyer’s full name relates to how your listing agreement works with a seller. When a listing agreement expires, a listing agent typically has the opportunity to submit a list of names to the seller. If the listing is sold to any of these names within a specific period of time, you are still eligible for commission even though your listing agreement has expired.

If you don’t know the names of your buyers, you will not be able to protect yourself in the event your listing agreement expires!

Obtain the buyer’s phone number before the showing

If the buyer is unrepresented, you must obtain the buyer’s phone number before agreeing to a private showing. Failing to do so will make it virtually impossible for you to obtain feedback after the appointment. Having the buyer’s phone number will also allow you to contact them more efficiently on the day of the showing if there is a schedule change.

More importantly, why would you agree to share hours of your day with a stranger if they aren’t willing to share their name and phone number? It’s another red flag that this is not a serious buyer.

Here is an example of how to request a buyer’s phone number:

“Hi Michael – thanks for your inquiry! What’s the best number to reach you on during our appointment tomorrow?”

Watch out for last minute showing requests

Same-day (last minute) showing requests should be treated with caution. Short notice appointment requests often suggest that the buyer agent is unfamiliar with the buyer, the buyer is indecisive and/or the buyer’s agent is unprofessional and has poor time management.

When you receive a last-minute private showing request, you should immediately call the buyer’s agent to learn more about the buyer and figure out why the request is such short notice. Under no circumstances should you agree to a short-notice appointment request unless you’ve actually spoken with the buyer’s agent over the phone!

Introduce the buyer to your seller before the appointment

Impressing your seller as a listing agent ultimately comes down to being a great communicator. Being thorough in preliminary showing feedback and post-appointment follow-ups is the only way to give your seller confidence that you are doing a commendable job as a listing agent.

Here are two examples of how an amateur and a professional agent contact their sellers to confirm a private showing request:

Amateur Listing Agent:

“Hi Jack – can I show your unit today at 3pm? Thx.”

Top-Tier Listing Agent:

“Hi Jack – may we show your unit to buyer Alexa G. (Buyer Agent: Sam S.) today at 3pm? Alex is in the early stages of her search, however she has been monitoring your building for new listings for at least a year. She is pre-approved and is okay with a 5th floor walk-up.

May we confirm the appointment for today (Wed) at 3pm?”

Provide initial showing feedback to your seller immediately

Another way for you to impress your seller as a listing agent is to provide same-day preliminary feedback after a private showing. While it’s understood that you won’t have complete feedback for a few days, you can share some commentary regarding how the showing went as soon as the appointment concludes.

Here is an example of preliminary feedback you can share with a seller right after the private showing concludes:

“Hi Jack – here is some feedback from our appointment today for buyer Alexa G. (Buyer Agent: Sam S.): Overall, Alexa likes the condition of the unit and the natural light. She is concerned that the bedroom might be a bit too small to fit her king size bed and rather large end tables. However, it does not sound like a deal breaker. She thinks the unit is slightly overpriced.

We will follow-up with the buyer’s agent tomorrow to learn more!”

Provide full feedback to your seller within 48 hours

One of the worst things you can do as a listing agent is to hold a private showing and then never tell your seller what happened with the buyer. Even if the buyer is truly not interested, failing to tell this to the seller will result in them losing confidence in your abilities as a listing agent.

“Hi Jack – here is some feedback from our appointment today for buyer Alexa G. (Buyer Agent: Sam S.): Overall, Alexa likes the condition of the unit and the natural light. She is concerned that the bedroom might be a bit too small to fit her king size bed and rather large end tables. However, it does not sound like a deal breaker. She thinks the unit is slightly overpriced.

We will follow-up with the buyer’s agent tomorrow to learn more!”

A seller who doesn’t hear back from a listing agent after a private showing usually blames the listing agent for not-following up as opposed to assuming that the buyer isn’t interested.

After the private showing, the first thing you should do is email the buyer’s agent (or buyer) requesting feedback:

“Hi Sam – thanks so much for bringing Alexa to see 115 East 80th Street #4W this afternoon! As requested, I’ve attached the building financials and the purchase application for your review.

What did she think of the apartment?”

A seller who doesn’t hear back from a listing agent after a private showing usually blames the listing agent for not-following up as opposed to assuming that the buyer isn’t interested.

After the private showing, the first thing you should do is email the buyer’s agent (or buyer) requesting feedback:

“Hi Sam – thanks so much for bringing Alexa to see 115 East 80th Street #4W this afternoon! As requested, I’ve attached the building financials and the purchase application for your review.

What did she think of the apartment?”

If the buyer’s agent does not respond in 24 hours, please call them. In the eyes of your seller, there is no excuse for simply failing to provide feedback! Over the course of a 3-6 month sale process, repeatedly failing to provide feedback to your seller after private showings will result in he or she losing confidence in your abilities as listing agent!

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