Greg: Welcome to this edition of the Louisville Luxury Homes Podcast Series, brought to you by Jon Mand. With Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty. Jon, good to see you.

Jon: Hey, great to see you, Greg.

Greg: And we have Jake Tidmore in the studio. Let’s see if we can get him off the phone, working those deals. Jake, nice to see you this morning.

Jake: Hey, Greg, how are you?

Greg: I’m doing well. So, we’re gonna lean on Jake here a little bit, and make him a little bit more comfortable in front of the mic.

Jake: Very good.

Greg: All right. All right, so, I think this morning we’re gonna talk about showing up at properties, right? So, it’s sort of a … I don’t know if it’s a debate, it seems like it is sometimes. Some agents like to show up and handle the showings, other agents don’t. So I’m interested in your guys’ take on that topic.

Jon: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, it’s kind of a sad testament to the real estate industry, that just showing up is one of our largest competitive advantages, so.

Greg: Well, why don’t you set the stage. What is the expectation … or what does that market look like, really, when … we’re talking about it on the seller’s point of view, right?

Jon: Mm-hmm, yes.

The Minimum Service Real Estate Model

Greg: So, what do sellers generally expect their agent to do for a showing?

Jon: You know, it’s interesting. The industry has been able to convince the sellers to really expect almost nothing. In the sense that what the standard of practice in the business is that most brokerages and brokers will do the same services, that … what we call these minimum service providers will do, which is take, you know, amateur photographs of the property, put it on the MLS and then put a lock box on the door. And so they’re doing kind of the minimum service business model, but they’ll try to charge, and a lot of times will charge, full-service commission models for that. So, it’s been an interesting thing to see, kind of how the industry has devolved.

Greg: And then, we’ll back up, just to make sure everyone knows what we’re talking about. A lock box is what?

Jon: So the Supra lockbox is a electronic key box that listing agents typically install on the front door of a home that has electronic access for buyer’s agents when they show up, they can access this key box electronically. Open it, get the key, and go inside. And what it allows is for the listing agents not to actually have to show up to the properties when their clients’ homes are being sold.

So I would say that that Supra lockbox is probably one of the largest consumer frauds ever perpetrated on the public in this country, yeah.

Greg: All right, so I think we’re all pretty clear where Jon stands on this. Jake, do you have a different view? Do you have a similar view?

Jake: No. No, I agree with Jon, even further. I mean, some folks don’t even go to the extent, don’t even have the decency to put an actual Supra on the front door. Half the time you get to the house, and it’s a combination lock and the agent never sent you the combo, so you scramble around for a half hour trying to figure out how to gain access to the house. You know, at the point that you have a Supra on the house, at least there is a record of an agent showing up and showing the property. With the combination box, it’s hard to know whether or not anyone ever showed the house.

Greg: So it sounds like you’re both on the same page, and that there’s sort of a hierarchy that a combo lock, or a key under the mat, would be the lowest. Then the combo lock, and then the Supra. But, if I’m guessing right, you all think there’s something even better.

Jon: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting to me. People hire us to market and sell their properties. And, you know, we are sales agents. I mean, that’s the business we’re in, and it’s very hard to sell a product if you’re not actually there engaging with the person that’s interested in buying it.

Greg: It shouldn’t be a dirty word, right? “Sales”?

Showing Up To Sell Your Home

Jon: Correct, correct. So, I mean, at the point you actually have the buyer in the house, you know, that is the point of sale. The seller’s representatives, who’s been hired to sell the house, is often not there. You know, 99% of the time, and so, it’s very hard to sell these properties, particularly as you get into the higher price points. Unless you’re there when the customer’s there, actually pointing out the attributes, making sure that it’s shown in the best possible light it can, you know, trying to overcome objections.

I mean, it’s just the blocking and tackling of any sales organization or sales process. And, you know, it’s just been fascinating to me to come into this industry, you know, a decade ago and look around and see that, you know, the seller’s agents aren’t actually selling anything. You know, they’re listing a property, taking a couple photos. You know, very minimal marketing, just the distribution through the MLS, and then then put the lock box on it, and they’re off to get another listing. And they’ll leave the sales part of the process to the buyer’s agents to do for them.

Well, the buyer’s agent’s got very different agenda, and itinerary than what the seller has, you know. Our goal is to sell that property for that seller that’s hired us to do it. The buyer’s agent has all sorts of conflicting motives, and other properties that they’re showing and that sort of thing. So, it’s just an interesting industry, and one that … you know, it’s unfortunate that the selling community has been kind of trained to expect nothing from their agent. But at the same time, that’s been a huge opportunity for us. Because at the point you bring professional sales agents in, with all the marketing exposure that we have, and the commitment in business models to service these, you know, in person at every single showing, it’s made all the difference in the world for us and the reason that we’re the largest high-end brokerage in the community.

Greg: So, it sounds like you’re both committed to … And the whole brokerage is committed to showing up for each listing. So, Jake, do you get feedback sometimes? Or maybe even blow backs sometimes from buyer’s agents?

Jake: Yeah, absolutely, I was just going to mention that. I mean, it’s extraordinary at the point that we show up to these listings and show the property. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to speak with buyer’s agents aside from their clients, and explain to them that I’m not trying to steal their client. I am simply trying to sell our listing. And I think, you know, there’s some … you know, they’re a little uncomfortable because a lot of times, they’re showing sellers, you know. Maybe they have a listing and that seller is looking for a property to buy, and it shines a light on the fact that, you know, they’re doing very little to market the property for the buyer that they’re showing around.

So, yeah, I mean, often times there is a lot of blowback. Especially for agents that are not used to Sotheby, or working with Sotheby’s agents and our model of showing up.

Greg: Yeah.

Jon: And, I mean, just kind of going back to … I mean, the overriding thought process that I have on it is, you know, if your agent is not showing up to sell your property, then why are paying them? You know, what is the sales commission for? Because if all you’re looking for is access to the MLS, you can pay somebody $499 and get your house on the MLS and get a Supra lockbox on your door. So at the point they’re not showing up, you know, what exactly are you getting for your money as a seller? I mean, we are doing … As Jake mentioned, you know, just the blocking and tackling of the business.

You know, getting there ahead of the clients, the buyer clients. We’re turning on the lights, opening the shades. Just kind of, you know, making sure the house shows as well as it possibly can, and then at the point the customers come in, the buyers and their agents, you know, we’re handing them a brochure, we’re telling them about the housing, we’re pointing out any hard-to, you know, things that are easy to overlook, you know, different features of the property, back-up generators or irrigation systems. Or things that, you know, they may just walk through the house and not be aware of. But for us, you know, being there to specifically point it out to them.

Getting Instant Feedback At Showings

And then, I think from the seller’s perspective, it’s huge … they love the instant feedback. I mean, we’re in the house when the buyers are there. We can tell if it was a good showing or not. And the second those buyers walk out the door, we pick up the phone and say, “Hey, you know, this went great. They were here for an hour and they measured all the rooms to figure out where their furniture was gonna go.” Or, you know, “They were in and out in five minutes.” And, you know, the wife stayed in the car. Didn’t even come in. So, I mean, we can tell very quickly, and relay that information. And I think the experience for most sellers is, they’ll have a showing on the house, and it can be days before they actually get the feedback on how that event went, because they’re waiting on the buyer’s agent to relay that information. And if a buyer’s agent’s album shows 15 properties in a day, you know, it might take them 15 days to get around to filling out the feedback for that itinerary.

So, that’s a big deal. And then the security aspect is obviously huge. You know, just being, you know, at the higher-end price point, knowing that you have somebody in the home that’s keeping eyes on everything for you. And then just the … You know, so it’s nice when the clients, the buyers are in the home … But just the post-showing security aspect as well. You know, turning out the lights, locking the door, making sure everything’s kind of shut down.

A lot of the times, you know, you have sellers who have moved. You know, they’ve relocated in town, or they relocated out of town. The house is maybe vacant. And I can’t tell you how many appointments I’ve gone in where the sellers get frustrated that, you know … “Well, every time that my house was shown, the doors were left wide open, all the lights were on. The neighbors were calling me saying, ‘Hey, your house in unlocked.'” And, you know, meanwhile they’re living, you know, in Texas at this point or something.

So, you know, just being able to be a fiduciary, and take care of that asset for the client, and make sure that it’s handled appropriately is a huge deal.

Greg: So you guys are taking really full responsibility, right? So, I’ve been on – I’m sure we all have – several showings where the key is missing from the lock box, because one agent took it after someone was showing the house, and now you gotta go track the key down. And you guys are just sort of making sure that all that stuff, the light, you said … The lights are on, the house is gonna show in it’s best.

But I’m curious, when a buyer comes through, do you … How do work that, with the buyer’s agent? Do you want to take the buyers through each room? Or do you sort of make yourself available without being too available, if that makes sense?

Jon: I think we play that by ear. I mean, some agents, you know, I’ve found, they’ll walk in and they’ll say, you know, “Please show us through. You know the house, and why don’t you take us through and tell us everything about it,”

Greg: ‘Cause it’s hard to know … If you’re showing eight homes in a day-

Jon: Yeah.

Greg: It’s hard to know about all eight homes.

Jon: Sure, sure. And then some agents, you know, prefer, you know, their clients to just kind of have free reign, and it’s easy for us. I mean, we can, you know, step out into another room, or onto the back porch or something and make a phone call or two. You know, and just kind of stay out of their way, but be available for questions.

You know, that’s where, I think, the being on-site really helps. That, you know, the clients come through, they have questions about the property. They’re asking a list … Their agent. Their agent has no idea, this is the first time they’ve ever been in the house. So us being there, you know, being able to answer those questions.

And then, a lot of our transactions are a little bit more complicated. In the sense that we’re trying to figure out, you know, okay, you know, you’ve got a house, but … and it may be fine the way it is, but if we did, you know, X, Y and Z, you could improve this property. Or this is an easy opportunity to add value. And just kind of being on-site to be able to point things out to clients. Or if at the point we hear an objection from them, say, “Okay, I understand you don’t like this about the property, but have you thought about doing, you know, that.”

And so, that’s a … I can’t tell you how many sales that have happened that would never have occurred, but for the fact that we were on-site to handle those kind of objections, and help give people a clear path to, you know, making the property work for their situation.

Greg: And Jake, were you … It looked like you were itching to say something there.

Jake: No, I think, you know, Jon kind of covered it. But, I mean, I agree. You know, the big thing is just, you know, in my opinion, is hitting off some of these potential issues. You know, buyers having questions. Again, these buyer’s agents are coming in, it’s the first time they’ve ever seen the property. May be the first time they’ve ever been in a particular area.

I know, for instance, I’ve got a home in Old Louisville now, and a lot of agents aren’t very experienced in that area. And I’ve happened to sell some houses over there, so I know, you know, what to look for on these houses, and some of the potential problems that may come up or questions in a showing. I know one of these listings in particular probably wouldn’t have sold if I wasn’t there, you know, explaining, the fireplaces and the energy costs and ways to keep those down. The preservation district and at a point, you know, the buyer’s agent is very appreciative because at the end of the day, they want to sell just the same. I mean, they want to make some money, and so I think at the point that I wasn’t there, and some of these questions came up and they couldn’t answer them, you know, you just … the buyer loses interest, and moves on, and runs to, you know, a different area, somewhere they’re a little more comfortable with.

Greg: So maybe one more question before I let you guys go. I’m curious, you’ve been talking about being on-site with the buyers and the buyer’s agent. Before. Let’s back up a little bit, and when you’re talking to the seller, and you’re doing your listing presentation, what do you … how do you explain this to the seller? Because it seems like, if the market’s been exposed to the idea that you put a lockbox on the house, you have to do a bit of education yourself. So how do you present that to a seller?

Jon: Very … I mean, it resonates very well with the sellers. I mean, at the point we explain, hey, we’re gonna show up every time a buyer’s in the property, you know, that is a huge differentiation in our market. And, you know, the sellers get that instantly.

Gaining Some Insights Into The Potential Buyers.

But, you know, just kind of quantifying that, I mean, part of the advantages that I’ve mentioned. You know, the feedback aspect of things. You know, we’re on-site, we get that feedback instantaneously. You know, the second the buyers are out the door, we’re picking up the phone and calling the sellers. But, you know, we gain some insights into the buyer situation and what they’re looking for, and then, also, the critical feedback that they have at the house. So, you know, if we’ve shown a house 15 times, and we keep getting the same comments about some attributes of the home that is curable, you know, that’s information we can go back to the seller and say, Look, this is consistently a problem. We need to address this, you know, or it’s gonna impact the sale price of the home.

So, you know, if it’s painting the purple dining room or, you know, kind of re-staging a space, or whatever it is. I mean, a lot of these things are gonna be curable, or at least the opportunity for us to identify a cure. You know, if it’s something that’s a major cost, that the seller’s not willing to undertake, at least letting us know that, hey, this is consistent objection that buyers have. Let’s get somebody in here, quantify what it would cost to fix this, provide them with the quotes and the plans and to be able to explain that to the buyer’s agent, you know, that’s a big deal.

Greg: And that touches on something that … I remember seeing a survey of realtors, and one of the biggest complaints was getting feedback from buyers. Because most agents rely on, like automated-

Jon: Mm-hmm

Greg: Questionnaires or something, and the buyer’s agent has very little incentive to fill it out and take a lot of time to fill out because-

Jon: Mm-hmm

Greg: That don’t care what you think, right?

Jon: Yeah.

Greg: It’s just time out of … this is a real way to handle that huge complaint, right? And-

Jon: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Greg: Yeah. So, I just wanted to touch on that, that getting that real feedback is.

Jon: Yeah.

Greg: It sounds like a great solution.

Jon: And what the agents and their buyers, you know, put on those feedback forms isn’t necessarily, you know, the case. You know, they may come in and say, Well, it’s overpriced. You know, they’ll fill out, “The price is too high.” Well, you know, it’s not.

Greg: You have four choices, right?

Jon: Yeah, exactly. It’s not that the price is too high, you know. Maybe the price is fine if, you know, the kitchen was this way, or if this was done another way. You know, so there’s other components to, you know, kind of the question of the price and condition matrix there. So, yeah, it’s … We get much more actionable feedback.

Jake: Yeah, a lot of the feedback is probably body language, too. It’s not just words.

Jon: Mm-hmm

Jake: You know, a lot of times, when these agents fill out the feedback, they are filling it out strategically at, you know, at the point that they are making an offer they’ve listed as overpriced. And typically, you know, it’s the drop-down arrows.

Jon: Yeah.

Jake: You click one or two things and you don’t give much of the feedback. And I think it helps us in the negotiation process, at the point we’re at the showing, and we can see that the buyer is really interested.

Jon: Mm-hmm

Jake: And is just going, you know, in love with, you know, certain features of the house. And when they offer, you know, we kind of know, to a certain extent, that these folks are on the hook. We got them where we want them.

Jon: Yeah. No question.

Greg: All right, so, if someone’s listening and they want to talk to you guys more about showing up for all your showings, and all the marketing you do, and the photographs, and the video, and all that – what’s the best way to find you?

Jon: Yeah, they can go to LouisvilleFineRealEstate.com. That’s an easy way to get both Jake’s and my contact info.

Greg: All right, we’ll see you on the next episode!

Jon: Great, thanks.