Don't Sabotage Sales

Many real estate practitioners fail to take the basic steps needed to get from signed listing agreement to closing.

October 1, 2011

Eleven years into my real estate career, I can still hear the words of my first boss like it was yesterday, “Even if you’re just a sock folder, be the best sock folder you can be!” I’ve made it my practice to follow that advice—and share it with the many agents I’ve mentored over the years.

Unfortunately, some of our industry peers don’t seem to share the same commitment to excellence, hurting their chances of reaching the closing table. For example, not long ago, I was searching the MLS looking for sunny South Florida properties to send to my client in Canada, and I was struck repeatedly by one phenomenon: listings without photos. In my opinion, this omission defies common sense.

I’m not talking about newly listed properties where the photos will be coming soon, but rather older listings that have become stale, no doubt due to their lack of images. When I’m e-mailing a ­client, and I have a wide variety of properties to choose from, how could listing agents who haven’t posted photos expect me to send my client their listings? And if I did, do they really expect my client to say, “Take me to that one—the mystery property with a one-sentence description and no pictures!”?

Another common but faulty business practice hit me in the face recently when my wife and I were in the market to buy real estate ourselves. When we wanted to see a house that we loved (thanks to the pictures), I had to schedule the appointment through a special service that books showings on behalf of sales associates. While this may be a time-saving technique, I think it’s a huge mistake, as it represents the first opportunity for a listing agent to highlight features of a house or convey the seller’s motivation. It’s also a chance for the listing and buyer’s associates to develop a rapport with each other to help get the deal done.

Nonetheless, we were able to successfully schedule a showing, and as we entered the home, I immediately whispered to my wife, “I love it!”

At this point, the seller greeted us himself and said that the listing associate would not be there and that he would be showing us the home. The house was beautiful with an updated kitchen, and a Chicago brick paved patio with a pool. We really couldn’t find any flaws. Well . . . besides the owner!

Our excitement quickly turned into frustration as the owner talked so much that we could barely take in the home and talk to each other. He constantly interrupted us. After about 15 minutes, we found ourselves running to the car because the owner’s verbosity was so disconcerting. Despite this unpleasantness, I contacted the listing associate that evening to find out more about the property and the seller’s motivation.

Rather than call me back, she text messaged me, asking what I needed. I replied that I wanted to know what comparable homes were selling for in the neighborhood. She simply wrote back, “I’m driving,” and I never heard from her again.

It seemed like a sign. We were scared off from writing an offer by the listing associate’s lack of professionalism. She did nothing to nurture her listing and her actions were an excellent example of what not to do, but she did give us insight into how we can tighten up our own game.

It’s simple, really. Take pride in your work and your listings by taking good pictures and writing helpful descriptions. Schedule your own appointments and try to develop a rapport with the selling associate. Personally show the property and request feedback. The point is to give your listings the attention they deserve. If you follow these simple steps, your chances of reaching the closing table are much improved. It is difficult enough to sell a property these days, so don’t be your own worst enemy. You need to be the best real estate professional you can be.


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Note: Opinions expressed in “Commentary” do not necessarily reflect the position of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® or REALTOR® Magazine.

James Katz is the broker-owner of Katz Realty Group in Adventura, Fla. He can be reached at