Loyalty is earned, not automatically deserved. This subject comes up periodically because some buyers have the mistaken notion that they owe their undivided loyalty to the first Realtor they talk to, and other buyers will use several Realtors at the same time with no sense of loyalty at all. The first approach is not wise if you want good representation, and the second is unfair to the Realtors. So where is the balance?
How do we define loyalty, or where is the line in the sand that defines when a buyer owes their Buyer’s Agent undivided loyalty? This article is less concerned with a Realtor’s hurt feelings than it is on focusing on what is right and reasonable and courteous, consistent with a buyer’s best interests.
When is Loyalty Owed?
First, it is surprising that some buyers will hire the first Realtor they talk to with no research, no due diligence, and no idea if that Realtor has a foundation of real estate knowledge, or if they are competent, professional, honest, good with contracts and legal language, understand the extensive due diligence a buyer needs help with, are top notch negotiators, and have good communication skills. Believe it or not, according to the National Association of Realtors about 85% of buyers hire the first Realtor they talk to on the phone, no questions asked. With the power of the Internet today, there really is no excuse for not doing research on your buyer’s agent to help you filter agents in the very beginning, so the question of whether a Realtor has begun to earn loyalty should be addressed right away. Even if the answers are positive with your preliminary research online, an agent has not yet earned your undying loyalty. [Read about Loyalty at Buyer Beware.]
Second, when you begin to work with a buyer’s agent, there is a trial period in which you are still evaluating your Realtor’s credentials to represent you. None of the items in this list alone justify your loyalty, but each of these represent deposits to your loyalty account.
- Just talking to you on the phone a few times;
- Just showing some houses to you;
- Telling you jokes and smiling a lot so you feel good about them;
- Emailing you to address some of your questions; or
- Setting up an automatic email alert system for you.
There are some behaviors that would qualify as withdrawals from your loyalty account rather than deposits. For example, the following would be withdrawals, and any one of these, if egregious enough, can disqualify a buyer’s agent entirely and terminate any loyalty.
- Unresponsive to your questions, whether by phone or email;
- Unable to answer some of your real estate questions;
- Not trustworthy in small things;
- Apparently lacking in knowledge, competence, honesty, or integrity; or
- Generally just not coming off as the highly professional and personable buyer’s agent you want.
When Loyalty Has Been Earned
This list includes some of the indicia of when a Realtor as your Buyer’s Agent has earned your loyalty.
- He or she has gotten good scores with you on knowledge, professionalism, being a good communicator, having a high degree of real estate skills like negotiating and drafting contracts;
- He or she has done a good job answering questions for you by email and/or on the phone;
- He or she has played an important role in helping you gather information about living in the community and answer your other non-real estate questions;
- He or she has demonstrated through your online research that they have a great Internet presence and know every aspect of the real estate business;
- He or she as your buyer’s agent should have a lot of valuable information available to you online, including articles, videos, a great MLS site, and perhaps even books;
- He or she may have helped you filter homes and scheduled appointments and showed you several homes; and
- On a personal level your buyer’s agent should be pleasant and enjoyable.
Loyalty Earned The Old Fashioned Way
If your buyer’s agent has done all of these things, or has made all these deposits into your loyalty account, he or she certainly has earned your undivided loyalty. But they earned it the old fashioned way with hard work and honesty and knowledge. In this case, you do owe that one agent your loyalty, and it would be inappropriate to be working with multiple agents. It would be quite an insult to an agent who has earned your loyalty to learn that you bought a home through another agent.
Loyalty is earned, and how each of us defines loyalty in our relationships says a lot about us. Whomever you choose to work with as your buyer’s agent, find the the line in the sand where you can make a commitment to one agent as your buyer’s agent. So long as that one agent does a good job for you, you do owe that agent your loyalty.
Last Updated on September 6, 2019 by Chuck Marunde
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