Here's a great explanation to an age old problems agents have. Thanks Jim for the great post!
Agents usually ask right up front when they encounter a prospective buyer, "Are you working with an agent?" Amazingly, "working with an agent" means different things to different people. Not all agents see it alike, and certainly Buyers don't always understand what is being asked. It seems simple enough yet the interpretation varies according to your filters.
A Buyer may have been shown 50 homes by an agent and yet they'll respond "no" when asked. An agent may have talked to a Buyer one time on the phone, given the price and acquired the Buyer's name, and yet they will perceive that they are "working with" that Buyer. How does this happen?
The Buyer doesn't always understand that the agent is asking the question to make sure that he isn't creating a conflict with another agent that may have considerable time invested in the Buyer. The questioning agent wants to make sure he isn't wasting his time by working with someone else's customer which only leads to hard feelings all the way around - agents and customers. The agent also doesn't want to spend time with someone that is dancing with several agents and choosing none.
Buyer's often don't understand that we work on commission - we get paid when they get what they want and all of the pieces to the puzzle are correctly assembled to facilitate the close of escrow. It is up to the agent to explain the nature of our business to them so they will remain faithful to an agent they have confidence in and are comfortable with.
Some agents think that because they've shown property to someone they are working with them. The Buyer, however, may not have been pleased with the agent's performance. Pushing too hard, showing only their office listings, not hearing what they really wanted, an off color joke, etc. - all reasons for a Buyer to not want to continue "working" with that agent. It is their right and often warranted.
Buyers can stray if they have not had the proper orientation to the practices of the real estate industry. Tell them how it's going to work. If they see a sign, any sign including a FSBO, "call me, I can help. I'll get the information for you. I will be there every step of the way, from finding the right property to negotiating, contracting, inspecting, reviewing the title and related deed restriction documentation, loan approval, repairs, etc., etc., etc. In other words - I offer the services of a professional agent and I know and understand your wants, needs, and I care. I will be there for you and your family. Together we'll do good work and we'll get you what you want!"
This isn't a script, rather an idea. I don't say it that way it's written above, but I get the ideas in during our initial meeting so they are confident in me and expect to work with me. We both win. I expect to work with them, but I don't take it for granted - I earn the honor.
Remember, nobody owns a Buyer. If you want to keep your Buyer be sure to care about them and focus on their wants and needs. They will respond accordingly.