Thursday, May 31, 2007

Me? Jump through hoops? You need 'Cred!'

The Memorial Day holiday weekend was relaxing and enjoyable - just like an early Summer weekend in Chicago should be. We did some work for clients as well; I showed some listings on Friday and took a buyer-client out for a Saturday morning tour. Steve showed our listings on Saturday morning and then we both had the rest of the weekend to ourselves.

One recurring phenomenon we experience on Holiday weekends is the last-second call to our cell phones with requests to show property at odd times during the Holiday - sometimes right on the Holiday.

I know we need to SHOW houses in order to SELL houses, but we also can tell the difference between BUYERS and TOURISTS. I prefer to show houses to BUYERS.

For example, on Saturday I toured a selection of condo's with my buyer, Eric. Eric is a solid client of mine. We have a relationship. One defined by the State of Illinois - I represent Eric as his Buyer's Agent. Eric met me several weeks ago in my office where we went over his criteria for a new home, we spent time looking at properties in the MLS and selected some that he wanted to see. Eric got pre-approved from a lender. Eric will actually BUY a condo from me this summer.

My partner showed our listings to some other Realtors' BUYERS on Saturday, too. We know this because (a) Realtors we know (b) from Chicago real estate firms (c) called with a day or two notice with a request for (d) a specific time (e) during normal real estate business hours.

A couple of requests we did not accommodate included:

One phone call from an agent whose agency is so far out of Chicago that his area code is most commonly associated with farmland. Downtown Chicago is area code (312) and the neighborhoods of Chicago have area code (773). Suburban area codes include (847) and (630). The caller's area code was (815) which includes a region that stretches from the Iowa State Line to 1/3 of the way downstate. His request was for a short notice showing - and this can be an indication to us that he's not really working with a BUYER. A third indicator that this might be a curiosity viewing was that it was for after dinner-time on Saturday night.

This sounds suspiciously like an agent from outside of Chicago coming into the city with friends or family - that might someday be thinking of buying an in town apartment - for the Memorial Day parade, dinner and drinks. Oh, and, maybe a viewing of a condo or two.

Another request came from a young couple who called our office and reached the agent on "floor" - someone there to answer questions during office hours. The couple got the urge to view some properties on Saturday, but already had an agent of their own. Since they didn't plan ahead with their agent, he or she was unavailable. The young couple was calling agencies on their own asking for same day showings of properties they thought might be interesting. These folks might be BUYERS but without any credibility, I don't usually jump through hoops on Holiday Weekends.

Here's how you can build your 'Cred' and get exactly what you want:

  • Plan ahead! People who need to buy houses normally think about planning a house hunting trip a few days in advance. People who don't need to buy a house often get bored at Linens & Things and want to see homes on a whim.
  • Establish a relationship with an agent. If your agent knows you'll buy eventually, he or she will cater to your every wish - including odd times and other hard requests.
  • Choose an agent with his or her own 'Cred'. There are over 30,000 licensed agents in Illinois. I do 90% of our business with the top 500 or so. If an agent I know and respect calls with a request, their 'Cred' counts for a lot, and I will go out of my way to accommodate it.
  • Don't blow your 'Cred'. Setting up a tour of 10 or so properties on a Saturday takes a dozen or more phone calls and an hour of time. If you blow off that appointment, I have to make another dozen or more calls to cancel all those requests. And I've lost a valuable Saturday that I could have devoted to another client. If you cancel a tour without a good reason or blow off a tour without a call, you'll never see the inside of my car again.

Follow these tips and you'll have a faithful and loyal ally in your home search who will move heaven and earth to make sure you get exactly what you're looking for.