Have you had cancelled real estate listings? If so, did you cancel them or did the clients cancel them? And if you cancelled, was it for real or was it to avoid having the listing show up as expired?
I can understand going with cancelled rather than expired if your clients just want a breather from having their house show ready – and don’t want to be inundated with email, calls, and letters.
But perhaps there’s a different reason for your cancelled real estate listings…
First, did you cancel or did your client cancel?
If you cancelled a real estate listing, was it because your client was just too difficult to serve well?
What did your clients do that made it too difficult to serve them well?
They might have:
- Insisted on a price that was too high for the market – and refused to discuss a reduction.
- Failed to follow instructions regarding being out of the house when it is shown.
- Followed buyers around, trying to be helpful but bothering them instead.
- “Forgot” to clean the cat’s litter box.
- Forgot/refused to contain their pets or take them with them when they left for showings.
- Left the house in a mess – dishes in the sink, beds unmade, etc.
- Refused to leave on heat in winter or AC in summer if the house was vacant.
- Ignored curb appeal chores like mowing the lawn or shoveling the walk and plowing the driveway.
- Had expectations that you didn’t wish to fulfill – such as being present at every showing.
- Called you at all hours of the day and night – and all weekend.
- Done bizarre things – like answering the door while naked.
- Been verbally abusive to you.
If the problem was anything except the last two, could a bit more education have prevented it?
Probably. The problem might have been that you didn’t educate them about how they needed to behave while their house was on the market.
If the house is vacant, perhaps you didn’t take time to explain that it still needed to be clean (no dead flies), that the curb appeal needed to be maintained, and that the indoor temperature must be such that people would be willing to stay and look at the house.
The truth is – sometimes people just don’t think.
Things that you think of as just common sense did not occur to them at all. That means, when you take a listing, you need to be sure your clients understand what is expected of them. Never assume that they know what to do.
As for their expectations: It’s your job to let them know what to expect from you and from other agents.
Yes, I know. Everything about this is your job. That’s just the way it is. So – onward.
Will you be present at every showing? Some agents, especially those in the highest-end markets, do attend every showing. But if you don’t, do take the time to explain how it all works.
You also need to convey your working hours. I don’t believe it’s possible to do a good job as an agent working just 40 hours a week – or refusing to work at all on weekends. Some things need to be done outside of “normal working hours.” But you can set boundaries.
For example, you could let your prospects and clients know that you accept calls from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., except for a one hour dinner break at 6 p.m. (If you want to maintain your personal relationships, that break could be vital.)
If your website screams that you’ll be there for them “24/7” then you got what you asked for when they called you at 2 a.m.
What if it was your clients who cancelled the real estate listing?
Was it because something changed in their lives, or because they felt that you somehow let them down?
Things do happen in people’s lives that cause a change of plans. That’s just life, going on as usual.
But if the reason did not lie within their lives, it may be time for you to do some serious self-evaluation.
Following are some questions to ask yourself.
- Have I returned my client’s calls, texts, or emails in a timely fashion?
- Have I answered all of their questions thoroughly?
- Have I carefully guided them through forms that might have been confusing?
- Have I been on time for every meeting? And was I well-prepared and dressed like a professional?
- Have I been polite?
- Have I been honest, even when the clients didn’t want to hear the truth?
- Have I kept all my promises?
- Have I done a good job with photos and property descriptions?
- Have I refrained from talking about politics or religion?
- Have I kept my language clean?
- Have I made them feel that they and their concerns are important to me?
If you answer these questions honestly, you’ll know whether you need to make some adjustments to avoid more cancelled real estate listings in the future.
A true story about agents who deserved to have cancelled real estate listings…
Years ago I had acquaintances with a property to sell in a neighboring state. First they hired a husband and wife team who were supposed to be the “Top Agents” in their small community.
When my acquaintances visited MLS to look at their listing, they saw that the agents had posted a photo of the mini-refrigerator from their sun room next to the copy about their gourmet kitchen. They asked the agents to change it, and they refused. They said it was too much trouble to change MLS photos.
When there were no viewings after a couple of weeks, they called to ask why. One of the agents told them that they “…needed to lower the damn price.” This was a shock to them, because they had listed at the price the agents suggested.
More time went on with no action, so they asked a relative to call their agent and inquire about the house. That was the next shock. The agent said “Oh, that’s probably not what you want. I can show you….”
OK – those agents went away. Then came the next one.
These folks asked me to be present when they interviewed her for the job, so I know they weren’t kidding when they talked about the promises she made. They included ads in many publications – both print and on line, open houses, and extensive signage.
And she didn’t keep those promises! After a couple of weeks and a few phone calls, she finally brought signs, but that’s all. They didn’t share her excuses why the promised advertising didn’t appear. But every week she had a new excuse for not holding an open house, including:
- “My dog was sick.”
- “I had to babysit my grandkids.”
- “I had to go on a pre-planned vacation.”
Speaking as a real estate broker, which I was at that time, I could not even believe this level of non-service.
I know you’d never do the kinds of things these agents did, but…
It is easy to slip into bad habits, especially when things are so unsettled. You’ve just come off a time when you barely had to do anything to get your listing sold. Now you’re going into a time when, depending upon where you are and which clients you serve, you might have to work at it.
So give yourself a self-check – on educating clients AND on your own behavior.