Why I Dislike Automated Realtor Feedback Systems

I 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.

10 thoughts on “Why I Dislike Automated Realtor Feedback Systems”

  1. You must be at the absolute TOP end of the market, where all the homes you are visiting are represented by Type-A ultra-busy high-end realtors. Clearly they can’t take 5 minutes to craft a personalized email, or pick up the phone.

  2. I thought I was the only one that had this problem. There has been instances where within 2 or 3 days after I show a property we get it under contract and weeks after I am still receiving follow up emails from my initial showing. I prefer personal emails.. Mainly because I think a lot of agents are getting tired of these automated follow ups overflowing their inbox and just delete them without giving them a second look.

  3. Haven’t come across this problem but then again I’m not using a lock box. Seems like everything these days has spam associated with it from cell phones/landlines/emails and now the lockbox. Wish it gets better! Good article too.

  4. Hey Steve,
    I love that term you used, “persnickety”, and yes you are being too “that”!
    I much prefer electronic follow up systems. Its fast , simple and lets me give feedback without having to play phone tag. It comes as an email, so that’s the same as your preference, but one click through to a questionnaire that takes less than a minute to complete? I’ll take that any day over a written narrative. If an agent calls and I answer I’m always happy to visit about feedback. But I’m much more annoyed with the time wasted with phone tag for feedback than electronic questionnaire one and done. Besides, if I’m going to have a phone conversation I feel it more productive to have it with anyone other than my competition. From the look of your site and blog you clearly get technology. I’m curious why, for feedback, are you old school? What’s funny? I found your blog while searching for an automated feedback system.

  5. Great reply Charlie! Took the words right out of my mouth. I too was searching for a better automated feedback system when I got distracted by Steve’s article.
    In my opinion, automated systems are better all around but here are a few reasons worth bulleting:
    1) The data comes back in a quantifiable way so the seller can see in terms of percentages how many people think their house is overpriced, how many people felt the exterior condition was only average, and how many people left the house in their top three after the first showing. (We do ask agents for open ended remarks as well)
    2) The showing agent has the luxury of completing the request when it’s convenient for them and I’ve found agents in my area appreciate that.
    3) The request email comes with a picture and a price to jog the showing agents memory of the house. Because of this we get more accurate feedback and never get “I’m sorry, I just don’t remember that one.”
    4) The most obvious one is efficiency and scalability. My listings get on average 10 to 20 showings a day. I (or someone on my staff) would have to spend 2 hours on the phone each morning (or in front of my computer typing custom emails) making feedback requests.
    Thankfully, Steve’s antiquated attitude on feedback gathering represents only a small percentage of agents in my area. We’re only having to call on about 10% of our showings. What’s great is that number has decreased from about 40% when we first started using automated feedback systems 5 years ago.
    Many agents that used to gripe about our method and say they would never complete one of our surveys are now gathering their own listing feedback with automated systems. Steve, I’m sure you’ll come around too. 🙂

  6. I love automated feedback. I can actually give helpful feedback because I can see a picture of the property and think about it, rather than getting a call when I’m not in a place to reflect on the properties I saw. This is the future. As our clients and colleagues continue to get younger and more tech-savvy, there will be an expectation that things like feedback are automated. For them, it’s like walking into a room and turning on the light. I’m sure some realtors also hated it when everything went online. Now we can’t imagine this job without it.

  7. This article actually annoyed the hell out of me. As a busy, successful Realtor, my time is my most valuable asset. While I agree that connecting with our peers is vital, and personal conversation is valuable in a number of instances, showing feedback is not one of them. As agents, we all know that if your client liked the property, there is going to be further conversation and activity. Showing feedback requests are not as much for us as they are for our clients. The seller often gets a phone call asking for an appointment. They straighten up the home, rearrange their schedule, leave the house, and wait. Then they never hear anything about how the showing went. Sure, I could spend 4 hours in the office calling every Realtor personally to ask for that information, OR I could have an automated system that follows up for me, so that I can be out meeting with my clients, taking listings, showing homes or talking to Realtors about the offer I just sent/received. It is courteous to return a feedback request, regardless of how it is packaged.

  8. In the luxury sector, there is no place for automated feedback. I don’t want to know if the house is ‘overpriced’. I want to know how much overpriced. Where would you price it? how does it compare to other homes at that price, in detail? And I have follow-up questions. This is feedback for my seller, so there may be specific questions around items we’re working to improve or mitigate.

    I also prefer to book showings on a phone call. I want to know about your buyers… there may be ways I can help facilitate a better showing. I may be able to answer questions in advance, and will send a features sheet for that same purpose.

    Since I was licensed in 2013, it’s always been my goal to do more high-value transactions rather than more of the same transactions.

    A marketing person once asked how many sides I did in the previous 12 months, and then how many I wanted to do in the next 12 months. The answer was that I want to do the same or fewer, while increasing my annual income. Bespoke service and person-to-person interactions are how that happens.


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