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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Art of Giving and Requesting Good Feedback from Real Estate Showings

[Published Jan. 17, 2013, in the Denver Post and in four Jeffco weekly newspapers]

One of the most important services a listing agent can provide his or her seller is useful feedback from each showing — but he also has little control over getting buyers’ agents to provide it.

What the listing agent can do, however, is to employ a showing service which has an effective and dependable system for requesting feedback from each showing agent.

The showing service which I — and the majority of Denver area brokerages — hire is Centralized Showing Service (CSS), a national firm which has several call centers across the country.  Like RE/MAX Alliance and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, my firm pays CSS to provide their service free to all my agents for all their listings, and it really makes a difference, including for getting feedback.

For $35 per listing, CSS answers their phones 7 days/week, 8am to 8pm (6pm weekends), and I have never experienced a busy signal or long wait time.  (If their Denver call center is busy, the call is routed to their San Antonio or Kansas City call center.)

What I like about CSS’s feedback system is that it allows the listing agent to specify the wording and the number of times that the feedback request is sent if no response is received. The first request is sent at the end of the showing window, so that it is in the agent’s email inbox as soon as he/she returns from the showing.

The listing agent can specify whether to use a multiple choice “survey” format, or provide a box for the showing agent to provide free-form feedback. I much prefer the non-survey feedback, and think it serves the seller better. It’s also friendlier to the showing agent.

A picture of the home is included with the feedback request, which can help the showing agent to remember which home it was.

The listing agent can specify whether the seller should receive the feedback immediately or only after it is screened by the agent. I take the position that my clients can take whatever feedback is given and I don’t want to slow down the release of that feedback to them. My sellers get the feedback simultaneously with me.

I firmly believe that it is the professional responsibility of every showing agent to give feedback, and email is always the best way. I think it’s rude to call an agent before giving them a chance to respond by email.  The wording of my email requests through CSS is “Please respond to this request so I don’t have to bother you on your cell phone,” which is effective.

Agents who use a multiple-choice feedback request often ask if the price is low, high or just right. How can the agent or seller expect a useful or honest response? If the showing agent is preparing an offer, do you think they’ll tell you the price is right — or low?  And if they’re not preparing an offer, how can you expect them to do a market analysis on your listing?  As a buyer’s agent, I wait for an expression of interest in buying a listing before I look at whether the price is high, low or reasonable.

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