Every now and then, my wife and I go look at property. Sometimes with sincerity.
For instance, this past weekend, we went to look at a couple places in an area near family, with the intention of picking up a "landing pad" for Stateside visits.
We went with someone our family has known for a long time, because she also happens to be a real estate agent.
On the whole, she seems both nice and ambitious. However... well, let's just say it's one of those occasions where I found myself on the flip side of a selling situation and it was enlightening.
For example, during the day we saw a place we liked and figured we could learn to love, after some key alterations.
But it turned out, nobody was sure whether it had gas or oil heat. It said one thing in the Trulia ad and another on the disclosure.
Then the realtor pushed us to put in a much higher offer than we wanted. To be expected, but then she pushed us to go even higher, rationalizing it by breaking up the extra mortgage as "only a couple hundred more per month."
"Plus, these places are really starting to move, you know, so you can't wait too long," she said.
This was less than 24 hours after we'd overheard another realtor tell her, "Yeah, nobody's buying anything."
"Besides," she added, "after looking so long maybe you just want to offer the asking price. That way, you're sure you'll get it and you'll be done with the search, you know?"
As a capper, she called later to say a friend on the "inside" heard he might be getting another offer. "You've got to move on this or risk losing it," she said.
(The "other offer" never materialized.)
Increasing urgency, minimizing price, showing how it would solve a problem. All to be expected. But, yep, it left us feeling... well... a bit slimed.
Why, I had to wonder?
After all, I'm as much a student of selling technique. She did things it seemed like she was supposed to do. So why were they having the opposite effect on me and my wife?
Maybe because it seems like the agent didn't do all her homework before applying them.
For instance, we're looking for a property we can rent part of the time and we told her that. Those "couple hundred dollars" extra would cut into that rental income.
Or the price. I could write a check for the place tomorrow, but my wife is sensible about money and has a maximum limit in mind. We expected the agent's appraisal to come in higher. But when it did, how did it do so while missing the oil heat detail and some electrical upgrades needed?
I won't bore you with other details. Except to say, it's clear that, in the same way that a blowtorch isn't the way to light birthday candles, a technically good pitch can backfire if you use it in the wrong situation.
I'm sympathetic, of course, in a way. It must be tougher for agents of all kinds these days. Consumers come in the door a lot more informed and with a lot less patience for the middleman.
But I can't help but think, she could have had us signing a dotted line today, had she come at it just a little differently... and maybe more personally tailored to her actual customer.
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