Why I Dislike Automated Realtor Feedback Systems

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on February 7, 2012 · 8 comments

Austin Realtor FeedbackI showed homes to a buyer yesterday, and now my inbox is filling with these annoying automated email feedback requests.

Each time an Austin Realtor opens a lockbox with the electronic key (or iPhone or Blackberry key), the visit is logged and reported via wireless transmission, sometimes in a matter of minutes. If the listing agent has properly assigned the Supra Lockbox ID to the MLS Number of the listing in the Austin MLS System, the listing agent will receive an email notifying of the showing.

Sylvia and I set up all listings like this to gain feedback from showing agents. This helps us understand what buyers liked or didn’t like about a property. If we hear the same negative feedback about an aspect of a house or the pricing, we can make appropriate adjustments. We use it for a reality check and as an excuse to follow up with agents and encourage an offer if there is interest.

While Sylvia conducts our feedback requests manually, sending a short personal email to each showing agent with a link to the listing (to remind them of which one it was) and inquiring as to any interest, more and more Austin Realtors instead subscribe to automated feedback systems that automate the process. Though I’m happy to respond to phone call or direct email requests for feedback, I ignore the impersonal automated requests. Here’s why.

Perhaps I’m too picky or persnickety about this, I’ll admit, but real estate is still very much a relationship business. Dumping me into an automated feedback machine which repeatedly email blasts me with boilerplate requests to click a link and complete an online feedback survey is not an effective way to get good and valuable feedback information from me. Pick up the phone or shoot me a quick personal email and I’ll respond 100% of the time with an opinion, or sometimes an honest “sorry, I just don’t remember much about that one other than it didn’t make their short list”.

Austin Realtors, once upon a time, actually spoke often with one another. It’s how we got to know each other, and was vital to the business. That has changed a lot, and is still changing in these modern “electronic communication” times. Our most important relationships as Realtors are with each other, yet the leveraging of electronic tools is diminishing this important aspect of the business.

I received a text last night from a Realtor saying she might be writing an offer for one of our listings. I texted back and said “It would be a good idea if we talked first, call anytime”, because there are some important bits of information that an agent and buyer need to know about this listing before writing an offer. I never write an offer without trying to talk with the listing agent first to see what I can glean about the seller and the listing. But this seems to be a declining practice among the newer techie agents, and some of the old ones as well. And I don’t like it. Often, an offer will show up via email, out of the blue, with no prior communication, not even a cover letter or anything.

I did a past deal in which the listing agent and I never spoke at all. She responded to every phone message I left with an email. It was all email and text. I have no idea what her voice sounds like. The deal went smooth, with no problems, but I did not establish a relationship with that agent, nor can I say I know her at all after having completed a transaction together.

When a Realtor calls and catches me at my desk or on my cell phone and asks for feedback on a home I showed, he get’s it right away and can ask follow-up questions. He gets more than a survey result. We can also move to more generalized conversation such as “so what do you see happening in the market up there in Round Rock”, which I personally enjoy and find valuable as part of my “keeping up with the market” efforts. That one-on-one, 2 minute conversation about the market and what’s happening, from the perspective of a fellow Austin Realtor, is something I need and want from my fellow agents.

So, as the selling season picks up and gets into full swing, I don’t relish another year of these spammy automated feedback requests filling my inbox on their way to my Delete folder. I do enjoy getting phone calls or personal emails though, about the listings I’ve shown and what my buyers thought.

Austin Realtors, cancel the auto-feedback service and pick up the phone, or type a quick email. Let’s talk! You’ll obtain better feedback for your sellers and you might actually get to know another Realtor outside your own office.

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