Establish Your Communication Style and Reputation
Your communication style will determine how your peers react when they see your name on the other side of a transaction. Do you want them to let out a sigh of relief knowing any communication necessary from you will be clear, timely, and professional? OR do you want them to cringe, knowing that you do not communicate timely and professionally and the transaction will be difficult. You decide.
Agent to agent communication
Agents’ failure to communicate timely, clearly, and professionally when information is requested from another agent is the most frequent complaint to the REALTOR® Association.
Although not a violation of any specific MLS or Code of Ethics rules, failure to communicate timely and clearly is highly unprofessional, reflects back on your Broker, establishes your reputation with peers, and could be a failure of the fiduciary duties if the failure negatively affects your client’s objectives.
Write any and all communication as you would want it read back to you if you were on a witness stand or in a deposition.
Before an offer is presented:
Communicating through MLS
MLS is a valuable tool for learning information about a listed property.
As the listing agent, always enter correct information into MLS. Vague data entry can result misrepresentation and misunderstandings. Re-read all your data entry prior to submitting the listing to the MLS to ensure all information and instructions to cooperating brokers is clear and correct.
As a buyer’s agent, before contacting the listing agent to ask a question about a listed property, read all the information the listing agent entered into MLS. The answer to your question might be there.
Communicating the canceling of a scheduled showing
Immediately notify the listing agent when you will be late or must cancel a previously scheduled showing. Never be a no show.
During offer negotiations:
- So that no important information is overlooked, include with your offer a cover communication that lists for the sellers’ agent the other documentation that might be included with the offer.
Example: Please find enclosed:
- an offer on 123 Main Street
- a copy of the buyer’s earnest money check
- a pre-qualification letter from ABC bank
Reference in the body of the offer any addendums that are included.
- When you are ready to transmit an offer to the listing agent, contact the agent to give notice that you have already or will text/email an offer and request a confirmation that it was received. Never assume that just because you sent an offer via email or text that the listing agent received it. Verify.
- Ask the agent on the other side of the transaction how he/she prefers to communicate to ensure that the information you need to transmit going forward is received timely. You might have different communication preferences. Compromise might be necessary to effectuate a smooth transaction for your client.
Communicating Counter Offers
When countering an offer for your client, ensure that the counter communication is complete and clear and can be easily followed sequentially by anyone reading it (buyer, seller, lender, closing attorney). Counteroffers should include counter numbers, dates, and initials or signatures. No one should have to be a detective to determine the sequence of the changes made that were agreed upon.
Communicating Rejected Offers
Both license law (Rule 3.1 H) and the Code of Ethics (1.7) require that a listing broker document a rejected offer and provide a copy of the rejected offer to the buyer or buyer’s agent if requested.
Don’t wait for it to be requested. When an offer has been rejected by a seller, provide a copy of the documented rejected offer back to the buyer’s agent as notification that the offer was presented and rejected on a specific date and time.
Communicating repair list from home inspection to listing agent/seller.
The communications protocol used by a buyer’s agent to transmit a buyer’s repairs list to the listing agent/seller as a result of a home inspection is critical to the success of the transaction.
In addition to other required information that might be stated in the contract:
- Provide a clear and concise list of the repairs that describe exactly what the buyer wants the seller to do and by whom the repair is to be made.
- The Summary Sheet in the inspection report should be used as supplemental information for clarity but should not replace a concise list of repairs being required by the buyer.
- The list should be crystal clear to avoid any possibility of misinterpretation.
- Guidance for dealing with repairs is stated in the purchase contract signed by the parties.
- Failure to read that section of the contract carefully, noting the process required and timelines to be followed can result in the transaction going off the rails.
Communicating a change in MLS Status
Although the MLS rule requires that the status of a listing be changed within 24 hours, ASAP is better than 24 hours for the convenience of peers. Cooperating brokers deserve to know the true status of a listing as quickly as it can be communicated by the listing agent.