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Columbia Business Monthly

Complete Client Transparency and Why It Matters To You

Jan 27, 2022 01:28PM ● By Joan Herlong

In my almost 30 years of listing and selling in the Upstate, I have never seen a housing market quite like this one, and there are no real signs of it changing in the coming 12 months.

In most sectors of the Upstate market, the number of buyers exceeds the number of available properties. The total number of Realtors in our market vastly exceeds total inventory, too. For discouraged buyers, and often for overwhelmed sellers, it can feel like “crabs in a barrel.”  

What’s the best way to avoid getting caught in a pinch? 

With so much demand for houses and property, how can you – a potential buyer or seller – adroitly maneuver? What are the right things to do? The wrong? The best questions? Basically, what do you need to know and when do you need to know it?

The first critical move is choosing the right Realtor to represent your interests.  You need someone with expertise, and assertiveness. But even great first impressions can be misleading: How can you be sure that your Realtor is really listening to you and is consistently on your side? 

If 90 percent of success “is just showing up,” then the other 10 percent is returning phone calls and keeping our clients consistently informed, in any medium.

The No. 1 complaint we hear from buyers and sellers who have had a disappointing or frustrating experience in a previous transaction is all about COMMUNICATION, or the utter lack thereof.  

Even after the dust has settled, they still don’t understand how things went wrong for them, or why, or when. They use terms like bewildered, side-lined, or “left in the dark.”  They come away with a vague feeling of mistrust, not sure of anything, including their agent’s loyalty. 

In this era of virtually instantaneous electronic communication, there’s no excuse for anyone to be left in the dark.  It’s so easy to be transparent, that it actually requires specific effort to keep someone out of the loop.

That is why I suggest you practice Complete Client Transparency. That is, clients are blind-copied on every email between their associate and outside agents and/or interested parties.  Texts are also easily forwarded or copied and pasted. This policy, which is one I personally initiated at my firm, ensures two important things: One, the client is always informed in real time, and two, they never have to wonder what their associate is communicating on their behalf, or when. 

Equally important, it’s pretty much impossible to send a blind-copied email on your client’s behalf without making sure the client is OK with it first. Complete Client Transparency fosters continuous, effective communication between us and our clients. 

There are no back-channel shenanigans, no sotto voce escapades. In this unique market with sometimes bizarre curve balls, by following complete transparency,  clients have consistent assurance that – win or lose – their agent is always on their side, openly, and in real time.  

Joan Herlong is owner and CEO of Joan Herlong & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty