Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Again the phone rings!

"How much is the house on Taney Rd?"
"$259,944" I answer.
"How many bedrooms?"
"Is the basement finished?"
"There is no lower level."
"Why is it priced like that?"
"It is being sold 'As Is'"
"How much work does it need?"
"Windows, new kitchen, bathrooms, it needs total renovation."

Yes, I continue to answer questions about my listings. I answer without asking the caller's name, qualifications, or motives. I give information whenever asked.

You may ask, "Why do you do that?" Agents are trained to get information, like how much you make, and where do you work, and how many times have you been bankrupt? Maybe not on the first call, but they need this information so they can follow up. That means calling at dinner time to find out if you are still looking for a house.

I remember about a 100 years ago when I was looking for a home. I would see a "For Sale” sign and call to ask price, number of bedrooms, does it have a fireplace, etc. I did NOT get answers - I got questions: "Where do you live? How much do you want to spend for a house?...." And the follow up phone calls were intolerable. Back in the days before caller ID, I learned to change my name and phone number when I was asked.

Later, when I got into real estate, I vowed that I would not treat the public this way. I give out addresses, I give out price, I answer all their questions. In fact, I tell the caller up front that I will not ask for their name, and they can ask me anything. I tell them it is OK if they are working with another agent, I will still give them all the answers about my listings.

I tell them about my website where they can go to see my listings – all of them have interior photos. I don't ask for anything but email address, and then only if they want daily notifications. I make it simple with these directions:

"You can find every active listing in the Multiple Listing System (MLS) by going to and clicking on ALL LISTINGS. Be sure to put in your email, search criteria such as type of home and price range. Let's start with the county, e.g., Baltimore County, Baltimore City or Howard etc. You can narrow the search down to number of bedrooms, price range etc. You will be sent daily updates of properties that meet your needs, including photos, address, price etc. This is a free service to help make finding your special home easier."

Buyers use this site, sellers use this site, and friends, family and even other agents use this site. Anyone can keep up with all the active listings without having to talk with an agent.

Why would I do this? Because I have had wonderful success and love this real estate business. I don't "go after" the business; it comes to me by doing things this way. Many times the callers are so impressed with my willingness to share that they want me to take their information. They want to work with me. It seems the harder I try to not to get invasive with questions, the more they choose to share with me.

It happened again today when a woman found one of my new listings on the Internet. The caller from Texas only asked a couple of questions and didn't give her name. As I answered, we both realized this was not the home she needed for her family. Yes, it was in the right location and it was in the right price range, but it was certainly not large enough for her family of four children.

Before our conversation was finished, she wanted to know if I would consider helping her find a home when her family moves to Baltimore. She said she never has had an agent be so forthright with information, and she wants to work with me. This is the kind of buyer I want to work with – someone who is purchasing one of my listings!

When I started in real estate, I made that promise to give information freely because I didn't like how I was treated. Now I tell any caller anything they want to know about a property, and send them to my website for details and photos. After many years and hundreds of transactions, I'm convinced it's still the best way to build trust and confidence - and the business keeps coming!


At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Jesse Barron said...

As a property manager, I am the same way with client prospects.

I have learned that they call me when they first start exploring hiring a property manager. They move at their own pace, which is what I want.

I never complete a pesky follow-up call. I sometimes send them a quick email just to see if they need any additional information, but other than that, I let them be.

It sometimes takes up to six weeks, but most of them call back and sign-on.

I will sometimes spend an hour on the evening on the phone with a prospect. I am happy to answer any questions they have and I am never pushy.

Even if they do not call back, I never feel as though that hour was wasted. I learn something from every single person I talk to and that is valuable to me.

You have a great blog -- and I am a subscriber through Bloglines.

At 5:46 AM, Blogger Margaret Rome said...

Jesse, Thanks for stopping by. Call or email me. I would like to talk with you about your property management here in Baltimore.

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Chris Lengquist said...

I believe we think alike. I sell real estate here in the Greater Kansas City area and I too am terrible at using good sales techniques to get information. Frankly, I would rather answer the caller's questions and see if they have interest. If they do, great. If not we can both move on.

By doing the complete opposite of what almost every trainer in America has said I have carved out a very nice living for my family. It seems people just want to be treated with respect and not sold. Huh. Who would have figured?

Now, how about your "close" to get a buyer to write an offer. I must admit that here, too, I'm aweful. Usually my client has to say more than once he's "ready to make an offer" before I get anything scheduled.

Maybe that would be a great next topic.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger Margaret Rome said...

So you sell Real Estate in Kansas City. How is your market. What is your specialty? How long have you been in real estate? What company?

You might enjoy this site:
This site is for real estate professionas and there is a lot of good discussion and learning.

Let me know if I can help you with anything.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Chris Lengquist said...

Thanks for the invite to activerain. I'm already a member. KC is a little stagnant right now for most people. I work in the investment property arena and have been doing quite well. The west coast is moving quite a few dollars into my area for rental purposes. I got my license in 2002 and haven't looked back. It's a great profession. And it's nice to know there are others out there who believe in treating the public right. I'm sure you see in Baltimore what we see here in KC...

Love your posts. I even added you to my blog. Keep up the good work!

I miss my weekly trips to the Inner Harbor...


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