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 http://www.homerome.com/ 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 www.HomeRome.com 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!