The Tyranny of the Urgent: Real Estate Communication


So why do most buyers and sellers feel like their Realtor is such a bad communicator during the real estate transaction? I mean, can it really be THAT bad? Do they not get ANY timely information during the negotiatio

n phase or inspection phase or mortgage phase? Is the agent really THAT cavalier when it comes to the client’s feelings? After all, YOU JUST HAVE MY LIFE IN YOUR HANDS HERE. WHY WON'T YOU TALK TO ME?

Okay. Maybe that is a little melodramatic, but it makes the point very effectively that no matter how streamlined the communication process is that the realtor has put in place, the client will always feel that they are not being kept “inside the loop” when it comes to the deal. Why is this?

As a 30-year industry veteran I think the answer is two fold. The first reason is what I call the Tyranny of the Urgent and the second reason is familiarity and ignorance. Let's talk about the Tyranny of the Urgent for a minute. Embedded within every deal are the mundane and the frenetic when it comes to tasks that have to be accomplished in order for the deal to close. If an agent is wise, they will give you a list of the mundane tasks at the beginning of the relationship so that you are not caught unaware. (This IS communication, by the way). However, as the deal progresses, "stuff" happens or is revealed. Things like polybutilene plumbing are found during the inspection or it is revealed that the purchaser has not paid their taxes in three years. Or the appraiser gets attacked by a flying squirrel in the attic while doing their thing and steps through the ceiling sheetrock. (All actual examples) Of course, when things like this and other less interesting things happen the agent will usually contact you right away to let you know what is happening and what the solution is. They are operating under the assumption that you know that he will contact you when you need to be contacted and not until then. The Tyranny of the Urgent. This does not excuse not contacting you every hour on the hour every day until it closes, but it may answer a question as to why he does what he does. You see, busy agents have multiple deals happening at the same time where critters are attacking appraisers in the attics and they are urgently trying to alert many clients at the same time. So keep in mind that the agent will get it all done...or they don't get paid. Rest in that news nugget for a minute. It is the clients’ ace in the hole.

The second reason is related to the first but has a differentiator. I call it Familiarity and Ignorance. The agent is familiar and the client is ignorant. Not ignorant, per se', of life, but ignorant of the real estate transaction. Many times, the agent assumes the client knows more than they do and communicates to that expected knowledge, not to their actual ignorance. This is 100% the agents’ fault and is, in fact, ignorance on the agents part for assuming client comprehension in the first place.

So here is the takeaway: Agents, don't assume; it makes and ASS out of U and ME. Put a plan in place to communicate with your client frequently. Remember the sage wisdom of Col. Hannibal Smith in The A Team that "Overkill is underrated". The client will still not think it is enough, but you can at least pass the straight face test at Publix when you see them there.

Clients: Take a chill pill of choice and know that your agent is working for you even when they are not keeping you on speaker 24/7. They don't get paid unless the deal closes so take comfort in that. And by all means, don't be afraid to call the agent with any and every question you have. That is what they are there for. They work for you, and so do I.

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