Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The End of Civility?

I'm going to make a kind assumption, and start with the premise that people don't understand the life of a real estate agent, or how they get paid. We work on commission, which means that we only get paid when something sells or leases. Obviously, that means that there are many instances when we do work for which we are uncompensated. While we have always accepted that fact as a part of our lot in life, it seems lately to have gotten much worse.

Our commercial agents shocked me recently when they told me that at least half of the buyers they go to meet arrive late, and some not at all. Also, they said that they are actually very surprised when a buyer or his agent takes the time to call after a showing with feedback or information. For instance, one agent was pleased that a buyer called him to say that he'd found space closer to his current building, and was no longer interested in the space we had shown him. I found it amazing that an agent would be happy to be told that someone wasn't renting something, but he said that it saved him a lot of time chasing the guy around for an answer.

With that low standard for polite behavior, I have to guess that most buyers don't stop to think that an agent who shows them property is not paid to do so, and in fact uses his or her own car, gas, and time to do so. I've been told that many who do not call back assume that, if you don't hear from them, you are supposed to know that they are not interested. While that may be true, it doesn't help us to do our job for the owner. If you were the owner of the property, and not the prospective buyer or tenant, you would certainly be unhappy with an agent who couldn't give you information or feedback about a showing, and probably wouldn't be satisfied with the answer that they hadn't called with a response. That leaves us caught between a rock and a hard place.

While real estate agents are resilient, and while they are taught to follow up if they don't get a call, it would certainly be nice to be thanked for our time, and treated as professionals. In the current commercial market especially, buyers and tenants often know that they are using us to test the waters, so that they can go back to their current landlords to renegotiate their rent. If we oblige them, and give them what they need at our own expense, is it too much to ask that they get back to us and thank us?