The motivation must come from within.

Should a real estate agent tell his or her buyers buy this house? 

No.  The role of the real estate agent is to guide.  It isn’t to supply motivation. It isn’t to push clients across the finish line.

I’m definitely hoping that two-tone brogues make a comeback.

Inherent in this premise is the idea that buyers will know the right house when they see it.  It may not be perfect, but they can see themselves living in it for at least the next five or ten years–with some tweaking here and there, and maybe even some serious tweaking all over.  But the buyer feels that all-important emotional connection:  this can be my home.  A connection this strong doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, there’s no question.

Also inherent in this premise is the certainty that any buyer not 100 percent committed to getting the house isn’t going to.  The Silicon Valley real estate market isn’t a marketplace where casual motivation gets the job done.  Meh spirals down in flames when it competes with three or ten other offers.  And failure leads to demoralization.  Buyers (and agents) have only a certain amount of emotional capital.  They need to spend it wisely.

Also inherent is the idea that a good buyers’ agent understands buyer psychology better than buyers do.  The agent has been here many times, the buyers once or twice.  Indeed, this is one of the most valuable services an agent provides.

Nineteen years of working with buyers tells me that any home buyer on the fence should I make an offer? isn’t going to make a competitive offer.  The overwhelming motivation needed to prevail in our market isn’t there.

But let’s say that a buyer’s agent coaxes, cajoles and bullies a competitive offer out of her buyer.  Now, we should probably stop right here, because I don’t think agents can make buyers do things they don’t want to do.  “You can lead an equivocating horse to water, but you can’t make him drink unequivocally.”  But I’ve never cajoled or bullied a buyer, and maybe this sort of thing goes on all the time and I’m just too starry-eyed about the real estate biz to see it.

So let’s assume that an unusually suggestible buyer is working with a dangerously charismatic agent, and will do anything he or she says.  Agent writes up a home-run offer, dazed buyer signs it.  Buyer triumphs over the competition, gets the good news, goes to bed giddy…

…and wakes up the next morning feeling cheap and used.

Panicked Buyer never puts her initial deposit into escrow, panicked sellers are screaming at panicked listing agent, who’s screaming at Buyer’s agent, who’s dodging listing agent’s calls.  Listing agent will never…ever…ever forgive Buyer’s agent.  Henceforth Buyer’s agent will have a snowball’s chance of getting his or her clients in contract on one of listing agent’s listings.  And listing agent will be telling all her real estate buddies what a flake Buyer’s agent is.

That turned out well, didn’t it?    

Or maybe Buyer does get her $50k initial deposit into escrow, then gets cold feet and backs out.  Buyer can’t get her $50k back without sellers’ consent.  How understanding do you think sellers are going to be?  Or maybe Buyer gets buyer’s remorse weeks, months or years after escrow closes?  Who’s fault do you think that’s going be?  My agent made me buy the house.  Here’s the email.  My agent made me offer that much.

There are almost 170,000 practicing attorneys in the state of California.

A good agent–one who’s ethical, or at least smart enough to not let a commission check blind him to the consequences of his actions–guides but never pushes.  (Especially if his client keeps asking “if we get in contract, how can we get out?”.)  Besides, pushing only alienates, and a good buyers’ agent knows that his credibility is his most important asset.  So a good buyers’ agent gives clients choices, documents them, and hopes his clients learn from their decisions.

copyright © John Fyten 2017



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