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Leveraging Gossip as a Buyer’s Agent

by | Apr 17, 2024

It’s increasingly important to prove your value as a buyer’s agent, especially in today’s changing real estate landscape. One way you can excel in your market is by developing a reputation for saving people from bad situations. In my experience, bad news travels far faster than good news. Most clients expect that you will do a good job, which is likely why they chose you to represent them. If you in fact do a good job, this is what your client expects; they will likely mention your name in a positive light to others, which is extremely valuable in our industry. However, if you put your client in a bad situation, your client will spread their frustration like wildfire, and you may spend years hoping whatever they might have written online goes away. Everyone loves to hear about a trash fire, but no one wants to be the trash that’s on fire, which is why we all love watching reality shows from the comfort of our living rooms.

One way you can leverage the human desire to talk negatively to your advantage is by becoming the hero of a bad situation. A friend of mine saved a client from buying a condo across from a secret construction site, and the client still discusses this regularly. She was buying one of those condos where 90% of its value is its view; it looked out over a park and onto a building that was on the National Historic Register, so you’d think the view was well-protected. However, my friend went through construction records and permits and quickly discovered that a 14-story building with an extremely strange shape was going to go up around this park, and partially over it. To this day, whenever this client walks by that building, she mentions how her agent saved her from the absolutely horrifying fate of not having a view. I’m being dramatic, but when your unit’s entire value is based on its windows, you don’t want to wake up one day looking into a wall.

Since people love to talk about the negative, including myself, being the hero of a negative real estate story really adds some propellant to your good reputation. I wrote in a previous article about saving a friend from buying a house that had been almost completely underwater the year before, which was not referenced in the listing and was in no way obvious. It was only by doing a quick Google search using the name of the owner that I found multiple news articles about how the home unintentionally became a houseboat and sufferent massive water damage.

I know some clients who were hellbent on buying an adorable fixer-upper, and their real estate agent kept getting cold feet about the purchase because something didn’t seem right about how the house was situated on the lot. She finally discovered that the home was connected to the sewer by an unpermitted and non-functioning line that went through two neighboring houses, unbeknownst to any of the neighbors. To fix the sewer would involve an entirely new link to be connected to the street’s 100-year old sewer line, at a cost of at least $75,000. Her clients still tell the story of how badly their agent wanted them not to buy that house, and how right she was. I know you’re worried about whether they were able to find a different adorable fixer-upper, and you can rest easy because they did, and for much less money and hassle.

Trust me, if you save a client from a bad situation, they will recommend you forever. Are you just good at your job? Boring! But being part of a disaster story will quickly get you word-of-mouth press, for better or for worse. I’m only partially kidding–being good at your job will absolutely help your career, since people like to make recommendations and love to give advice. However, saving your client from a disaster is reputation gold.

As a real estate agent, you don’t want to get carried away in your research and start giving legal advice, tax advice, or weighing in on neighborhood statistics that involve protected classes. However, if you can save your client from a bad purchase by doing some basic online due diligence, you’ll not only be fulfilling your fiduciary duties to your client, you might become the superhero of your client’s real estate gossip.

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