Woman on a Cell Phone, Looks Concerned

Image courtesy of Flickr user Aplomb

Communication is defined as:

the exchange of information between people, e.g., by means of speaking, writing or using a common system of signs or behavior

It is an act or instance of transmitting information.  It is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals.  Communication is the activity of conveying information.

I am writing here today to share information with you, to convey information to you and to participate in the activity of communication with you.

Communication, as we know, can be:

  • Verbal
  • Non-verbal
  • Signs
  • Body language
  • Signals

AAR’s Professional Standards Department receives a variety of calls.  One common example is the caller who says his or her REALTOR® is not communicating with them.

First, AAR staff verifies that the REALTOR® in question is an AAR member.  Then, staff determines the role of the caller in the transaction—buyer, seller, wannabe—and asks the caller to generally describe the issue they are calling about.  This is called communication, an exchange of information between people.

Are you seeing how communication works?  That it is a two-way street?

Here are some concerns buyers and sellers have brought to AAR:

  • “I have written an offer on a property and keep calling the REALTOR® to see if it was accepted.  The REALTOR® doesn’t call me back.  I don’t know what to do.  It’s been days – or weeks. Was my offer accepted?”
  • “My REALTOR® says that I need to offer more on a property I have just offered on.  The MLS information says the house is listed for X, which I have offered.  Now he says I need to offer MORE.  Why do I need to do this if I have offered the asking price?”

Question: Would you say there was communication between the parties, REALTOR® and buyer?  Or would you say it was a statement made to the buyer without the exchange of information?

  • “My REALTOR® keeps sending me emails or texting me, but I don’t understand really, and he isn’t returning my calls.  Who will help me?”

 Comment: In this instance, there is an issue with the form or method of information being transmitted or conveyed.  Texts work great in some circumstances, but not in all.  Might a give-and-take conversation, such as a phone call, be more appropriate?  How do you tell if there are communication issues in emails, texts, tweets, etc.?  If you are receiving the same question twice, or give or receive a partial answer as a response, it is time to explore another venue to communicate. Not all buyers and sellers want to be texted and/or emailed. Some clients prefer the telephone so that they may have an exchange  of thoughts or ideas.  Technology is wonderful, when used correctly.  Make sure you are not using it to limit your contact with your clients or to hide from being up close and personal with them.

  • “I have called my REALTOR® repeatedly about this issue and he/she won’t ever call me back.”

Comment:  I am at a loss for words when this is repeated.  “My REALTOR® won’t call me back?”  REALLY?  If communication is the activity of conveying information, this buyer is on a one-way street!

  • “My REALTOR® listed my property for sale three weeks ago, and I haven’t heard from her since.  I don’t know if it is advertised or in the MLS system.  There is a sign out front, but no one has come to see my house.  When I have called my REALTOR® to see what is happening, she doesn’t call me back.”

Comment: The REALTOR® in question communicated well enough to obtain the listing.  What is happening now?   Is this a classic case of “list & forget,” or is the client to believe that no news is, in fact, no news? 

  • “I have called my REALTOR® to let him know that they are advertising my property incorrectly.  My property does not have RV parking. [Or: there is an HOA; I don’t have a garage; the house isn’t on a cul-de-sac.]”

Comment: The client is attempting communication; he appears, again, to be on a one-way street, but who knows?  Is his REALTOR® accepting the information and making the corrections, but not continuing with the activity of conveying information?  Well, your guess is a as good as mine, since the client surely doesn’t know and seeks out “others” to ask.  And as an aside, could the REALTOR® possibly be in violation of Article 12, for incorrectly advertising the property?  Does the REALTOR® now have knowledge?  Is this representing the best interest of their client?  If not, is it a possible Article 1 violation? 

Another type of communication issue coming to AAR is from REALTORS®, about REALTORS®.  For instance, a REALTOR® finds a property in the MLS that meets the buyer’s criteria and phones the listing office to obtain a gate code from the listing agent.  The MLS listing has the REALTOR®’s company name and phone numbers, including the REALTOR®’s cell number.  However, when the buyer’s agent attempts contact for a showing and no one, not the listing REALTOR® nor his office, calls back – would you consider this a grave failure to communicate?  You bet – and a big one!

Let us see what might be involved with this issue.  First, the Code of Ethics, Article 1, states: “. . . REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interest of their clients.”  The buyer’s agent is promoting their client’s interest by attempting to show a property that meets the client’s criteria and is possibly the property they would like to purchase. But we will never know as they cannot get into the property to determine if it is the right property or not.  The listing agent, on the other hand, is certainly not promoting his client’s interest by not calling the buyer’s agent back with the necessary information in a timely manner or insuring that the information necessary to access the property is available at his office to facilitate showings.

What about Article 3?  “REALTORS® shall cooperate with other brokers except when cooperation is not in the client’s best interest.”  So a seller listed a property for sale with the listing agent, and the listing agent cannot be bothered to return a showing call?  I am certain that there are MLS rules and regulations regarding the information a REALTOR® puts into MLS.  Do you think there might be a violation of MLS rules if cooperating brokers are not able to access/show an MLS-listed property?

Yet another issue would be if a REALTOR® writes an offer on a property for their buyer and submits that offer to the listing agent, but the listing agent does not communicate with the buyer’s agent. Just how professional is that?  Is this proper communication between fellow REALTORS®?  Is this in the spirit of cooperation?  Might there be a Code violation here also?

I appreciate your attention to this article.  I know from experience that those who seek out information in articles such as this are not the offenders.  Instead, you are to be congratulated for building your practice and professionalism by educating yourselves at every opportunity.  Feel free to communicate with me; I will surely reciprocate.

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