by Christy Crouch
We all know that co-operating broker means that two agents and sometimes two companies are involved in the transaction. But are you co-operating in a business sense or are you truly co-operating with your fellow agent?
My intention in this article is to have you encounter what type of co-operating agent you are actually showing up as for the agent that you are co-operating with. Having been involved in closing over 1,000 transactions in my career, I have come to find that in more cases than not, I have ended up doing at least part of the other agent’s job.
Communication is the most important factor in having a smooth and headache free transaction for all parties involved. The more you communicate with all parties, the better off everyone will be. I’ve noticed that many buyer agents tend to drop off the face of the earth after writing the contract and expect to just show up and collect their check at the closing. While they may be communicating with their client, little to no communication is provided in many cases to the listing agent.
As a buyers agent it is important to remember that the listing agent has a live human being on the other side, called the seller. Sellers are nervous, anxious, and wanting reassurance every step of the way that things are going well and on track to close. You have to realize that they are either buying another home or renting something and that their plans are subject to the closing actually occurring.
There are many plans to be made both personally and professionally for the sellers and the buyers. As agents, our job is to support them through the process and ensure there are as few unexpected problems or surprises as possible.
Here are some ideas of things to do as a buyers agent to help support the listing agent and the seller:
1. Let the listing agent know when you’re doing the home inspections. In some markets agents are able to call sellers directly to schedule showings and inspections. Even with this being the case it is mere respect to let the listing agent know when the inspections are being done so they can properly communicate with the seller.
2. Call the listing agent the day of the inspection to let them know how it went overall. Believe me, the seller is sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear if anything was found wrong that they’ll need to spend money on. Often times they are calling the listing agent that day or evening to find out how it went and in most cases the listing agent doesn’t have a clue. Calling the listing agent and giving heads up on how it went overall will give everyone involved a little more peace of mind while you’re waiting and working on getting the reports, and removal of contingencies together.
3. Let the listing agent know who the lender and closing office is, and provide them with all the contact information so they can easily communicate with and provide information to them as needed for the closing.
4. Let the listing agent know once you get the closing time scheduled. This will allow them to help schedule the seller’s closing on their purchase if need be or let them know when they can expect their proceeds check.
5. Discuss moving plans with your buyer and the listing agent well ahead of time. Although the contracts in most cases say that possession is to be given at closing most consumers don’t really understand what this means. Is it when the buyer signs, is it when it records, is it when the seller gets their check. What if it closes on Friday and funds aren’t disbursed until Monday. These details may seem small to us but they are huge to our customers and clients. Getting all this ironed out ahead of time will save lots of time and frustration for everyone involved.
6. Provide or have the lender provide the listing agent with weekly loan updates. Knowing every step of the how the loan is progressing is so important for the seller. If there are any red flags it’s nice to let the listing agent and seller know this as soon as possible so that the seller can make arrangements on their end as necessary.
7. Let the listing agent know when the final walk through will be so they can be sure to get all repair receipts to you ahead of time to share with your buyer and so that they can let the seller know.
While much of this may seem elementary to you, you would be amazed at how many agents fail to do this. As a result of lack of communication and follow up, all those last minute surprises and problems show up making both agents look bad in one or in many cases both client’s eyes. Not to mention the stress and frustration that comes along with it for everyone.
For experienced agents who already know and are providing this type of co-operation, wouldn’t it be nice if all agents operated with the same level of professionalism? The same holds true for listing agents communicating with the buyer’s agent so that things go as smoothly for the buyer as they do for the seller.
Here are some ideas of things for listing agents to communicate with buyer agents.
1. Once you get the inspection removal of contingency, communicate with the buyer’s agent and let them know what you and the seller are doing. Are you getting price quotes, what are the seller’s thoughts and feelings, are they considering a credit, or making the repairs. Talking with each other can help the inspection process go smoother and have the buyer and seller come to a mutual agreement without anyone being upset or feeling taken advantage of.
2. Let the buyer’s agent know once the seller required inspections are done and what the results are. Too often there is termite treatment needed or a well to be shocked and the buyers hear about it for the first time at the closing table. It would be nice for the listing agent to tell the buyer’s agent as soon as they know so that the buyer’s agent can communicate with the buyer. It would be even nicer to have a copy of the termite report sent to the buyer’s agent and not just to the closing attorney and/or lender so the buyer’s agent can give a copy to the buyer ahead of time.
3. Let the buyer’s agent know once all inspection repairs are complete and provide the agent with copies of the receipts from the contractors before the final walk through so that the buyer’s agent can provide all this to the buyer BEFORE the final walk through and closing. This will aide in eliminating last minute walk through issues in many cases.
4. Tell the buyer’s agent what to expect with extra keys, garage door openers, appliance manuals, warranties, etc. I’ve always asked my sellers to leave all of this on the kitchen counter for the buyer with any last minute notes or things they may want to share with the new owner of their home.
5. As mentioned above discuss moving plans ahead of time. As agents we tend to easily forget that our customers and clients don’t do this every day. The more personal we can be with them and each other, the better off it will be for everyone. We need to actually like and enjoy working together as agents. Yes, it’s a competitive business but there is no way around the fact that we are going to have to work together at this thing called real estate.
If you don’t already have checklists in place it would be highly beneficial to make a closing checklist for buyers and for sellers. List every single detail that must take place from contract to close and check it off as you go. Documentation is critical in our business and the more efficient and organized we are the easier and more enjoyable it will be. Honesty, integrity, and clear communication every step of the way will make a huge difference throughout the transaction making for happier customers, clients and agents.
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