Just because you can…does not mean you should:
As real estate agents and brokers we have many electronic and web tools available to us. We use these tools to communicate with each other, our offices and our customers. Though these tools offer many benefits and conveniences they also provide opportunity for us to let our customers down.
Most of us have moved beyond the thinking that being a real estate professional is about “houses”. Our profession is truly about people. Looking them in the eye to learn what they want, what they need, what they fear and what we need to do to help them through one of the biggest business transactions most people have in their lives.
Most real estate transactions have 16 to 22 people involved, each with their own agenda, vision and motivation. Most of the buyers and sellers we work with already have a great deal of stress in their lives. Let’s face it, making your way through today’s hectic world, by its very nature brings stress. House buying and selling is up there with death in the family and job change because it touches so many facets of a person’s being; financial, family, comfort level, stability, ego are all wrapped up in an 8 to 12 week adventure of emotional ups and downs.
So, here is where we can let our customers down. If we let electronic communications take the place of our meeting them eye to eye, if we waste the opportunity to feel what they are feeling, if we choose to be more efficient and less compassionate because it is easier and quicker to send an e-mail or send the contract over electronically….we have lost.
We are seeing an increase in the use of electronic signatures. Our local multiple listing service will be rolling out an E signature product later this year. I wish it would come with “USE WITH EXTREEM CAUTION” stamped across it. Though this is a great tool to use occasionally when clients live outside the area or are traveling during the process, if used daily will erode the one-on-one relationship we have or should have with our clients. There is no point during the process that it is more critical to be eye to eye with your client then when they are looking through their contract to buy or sell a home. Even a one page change to the contract brings with it a certain level of anxiety that is best addressed face to face.
As the electronic tether gets longer and longer between us and our clients the more likely that it will eventually be cut by the consumer. Once the public feels that our value and service can be replaced with electronic resources we will lose our roll in the real estate transaction.
Bottom line….we will do this to ourselves. Our actions and professionalism will either keep us central to the client and the transaction or our actions will remove us from the process.
Just because you can communicate with your clients electronically does not mean you always should.