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Conserving Gas... Is It Worth It... ?

I have seen many Active Rainers write about the high price of gasoline, and or course... complain about it.  Most say they are driving less, and are trying to do the various things they can to keep their mileage to a minimum. 

Now, I know there are many things we can all do to minimize trips to the office... or to be more organized when we're out and about previewing or doing other Realtor or personal errands... but that is not the subject of this post.

I have read time and time again how agents really do not want to "cart" people around from house to house... showing them homes, and wasting gas.

I take a little different view.  I am wondering what the reaction will be from buyers when they call or email agents, and the agents start simply giving them home addresses to "drive by" and then hoping they will call that agent back if they want to see certain particular homes.

I am guessing that with the cost of gasoline being so high... these buyers who call and call... or email us... pestering us on and on... will not want to waste "their" gas... and will be more likely to meet with an agent they perceive as professional... sign a Buyer Representation Agreement... and finally get some good service from an agent who actually believes in giving good customer service.

It may cost me more, and some might see it as being foolish or wasteful on my part... but all I need is to make just one single sale because of it... and I have paid for my gasoline bill for an entire year !

Comment balloon 28 commentsKaren Anne Stone • June 10 2008 01:11AM

Comments

There's always money to be made in bucking trends, Karen Anne... A lot of folks will make cuts that sound good, but cut to the quick, so to speak... Service is always appreciated!  Good post.

Posted by Jesse & Kathy Clifton, Retired (Jesse Clifton & Associates, REALTORS®) over 9 years ago

 I wouldnt let the price of gas stop me, but I have noticed slower open house traffic and less traffic in general on the roads, weekends.

Posted by Karen Turney, Phoenix Real Estate (Homesmart) over 9 years ago

You make a good point. But if you know your market and your customer, you show fewer homes and still get the sale.

I would never recommend sending people on drive-by's it is asking for problems.

All the best!

Posted by Kevin O'Shea, White Plains, NY Real Estate (Coldwell Banker) over 9 years ago

KAREN ANNE - I agree that we all need to use a certain amount of gas to work with buyers, but the buyers need to change their way of thinking also.  Many buyers want to see an unreasonable amount of homes for fear that they may miss out on something better.  This mindset forces us to be in the holding pattern with them until they finally decide to make an offer.  I think that if gas prices can help eliminate the tire-kicking that goes on, it will be beneficial to all of us.  I am not opposed to driving around, just opposed to wasting time exploring. 

Belts are tightening everywhere.  Long before gas prices rose, I would give buyers addresses to drive past so that they could choose which homes they really wanted to see.  Sometimes, they would eliminate a home because of it's location, which couldn't be determined by looking online, and sometimes, they just didn't like the house as much in person, or they didn't like the way that the neighbors houses looked.  Although we are the professionals helping them, I believe that buyers need to be involved in the process beyond just being taken around.

Posted by Adam Waldman, Realtor - Long Island (Westcott Group Real Estate Company) over 9 years ago

Well, for me this is a tricky one.  I don't like to drive clients around to begin with.  Especially if they have children with them.  It's a lot of responsibility to be carting someone's children around.

I usually suggest that a client meet me at a property, and from there they can follow me as we tour.  My rationale for this is that they get a feel for the neighborhoods, the streets, traffic flow, etc.  If they are passengers they tend not to pay attention to where we are going and don't realize that there was a gas station on the corner, a park, a bunch of not so pretty homes, etc. on any particular street.  So far it has worked well for me.

And - since I don't like wasting time - if I have a buyer that is approved for $150K but wants to look at a home that is priced at $300K because they are curious about what it looks like inside ... well, I put a stop to that in short order.  No sense showing them a prime rib when their budget dictates hamburger.

Posted by Carol Smith (Casmi Photography) over 9 years ago

I agree but also encourage my buyers to use Google streetview to narrow down those they REALLY want to see. I still believe in giving great service and will show those homes they are sincerely interested in seeing. But not indefinitely.

Posted by Jennifer Monroe, Real Estate REALTOR®/Broker in Beautiful Charlotte (Savvy + Company Real Estate) over 9 years ago

All excellent points! When I have shopped for a home in the past, I always request the agent I am working with send me listings and I usually drive by them myself to weed out the ones I don't like. The ones I have an interest in, I would expect to be shown!

Posted by Rich Dansereau (Positive Real Estate Professionals) over 9 years ago

Karen, you made a wonderful point.  One sale would pay for the gasoline for a year!  We need to keep pluggin' along.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 9 years ago

I'm fortunate in that many of my buyers prefer to scout out the neighborhoods and houses first before asking to see inside.  I have other buyers who like to follow in their own cars, not necessarily good for the planet.  For those that want to ride with me, I try to plan the most direct routes.

Posted by Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417, Real Service. Real Results. Real Estate (United Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne...

Amen :)!  It's the same with people who say "Oh I don't want to make more money, I'll have to pay more taxes"...duh, where is the rational in either of those statements.  I have two buyers agents and I have harped on them for years, the only thing the phone is for is to set an appointment.  Get the customer in, build trust, get your buyer's rep. signed, prequalify, explain the process...be a professional!  There is no doubt in my mind if they would start doing that (and get off mass e-mailing of new listing), they both could do 10 times the amount of business, which of course more than pays for the gas.

Liz

Posted by Liz Carter, Broker/Owner of Liz Carter & Team Realty, Katy TX (Houston) (Liz Carter & Team Realty-Your Real Estate Resource For Life!) over 9 years ago

I love the approach - you are so right - it is the perfect opportunity

Posted by Thesa Chambers, Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon (Fred Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Hi K.A., Real estate agents carting clients around in cars and showing them tons of houses all over town???  How kitschy!  I love that you are so into retro marketing ideas!  :)

I thought that this approach to client service went out of fashion with Gas Stataion attendants in starched clean uniforms and home milk delivery!

Great post, thanks for sharing your insights!

Posted by Steve Shatsky over 9 years ago

Karen Anne.....you may have a point here and it is something I haven't thought of.  I usually get a committment upfront from my buyers.

Posted by Pam Winterbauer, "Providing Blue Ribbon Service" (Pam Winterbauer Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Good post, Karen.  Thanks for stopping by my Hang on Sloopy post.

Judi

Posted by Judi K Barrett, BA, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma) over 9 years ago

I don't ever worry about the cost of gas. Because I ride a pony to work. Naw, I drive a little two-seater, so that means when I show property, I either take my husband's Prius and waste his gas (which is kinda hard to with a hybrid) or I ride with the buyers.

elizabeth weintraub real estate agent Sacramento

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (Lyon Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Hi Karen,

You've made a really good point in your post.  To further agree, in my opinion, the key is to make sure that you are working with qualified buyers who will be loyal to you.    How is your kitty doing? 

Posted by Sondra Meyer:, See It. Experience It. Live It. (Hayden Outdoors, LLC Colorado) over 9 years ago

Elizabeth:  It sounds like you've got it all figured out.  Now if you can only get your buyers to take you grocery shopping on the way back to the office after showings.  :)

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

Sindra:  Yes, get those buyers well qualified, and make sure they are loyal, and you pretty much have it all taken care of.  And... Mollie is doing very well... thank you !  :)  Take care...

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

I'm with you on this one! I have them come to my office and meet with me and a mortgage broker and once we get them pre-approved off we go to find a house, in my car unless they have kids and we can't all fit in one car.

I agree that our job is to show homes and if you can't afford it, then you are doing something wrong and you are sounding cheap when you tell someone to just drive by and if they like it to call back and you will come over.

Todd Clark, Helping Families Home - www.IFoundYourNewHome.com

Posted by The Friendly Home Team, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Realty Pro Oregon, LLC) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne:  An interesting way to look at things.   I never tell buyers to drive through neighborhoods to eliminate things, and then get back to me.  I do, however, do that to renters.  A buyer is a precious commodity and should be treated as such.   Treating them well pays future dividends when their referrals start flooding in.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Northern VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 9 years ago

Good points, Karen.  The way I look at it, if I'm not burning fuel, I'm not doing business.  The more time I spend at the pump, the more stuff I've got in the pipeline.  Pun most certainly intended.

Posted by Paul Slaybaugh, Scottsdale, AZ Real Estate (Realty Executives) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne--I agree that a true buyer with a signed buyer's rep agreement is worth taking around to see homes.

Posted by Teri Eckholm, REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro (Boardman Realty) over 9 years ago

Karen- Great post. Oil companies are making huge profits, which cut into our profits... Why should we have to sacrifice losing more profits by driving less for our work. Don't get me wrong I am all for cutting back the needless driving, and planning my trips to the store together rather than go to this store this day go to that one that day etc., but why should any of us have to cut into our profits any further by not doing the driving that is needed for our careers. I get 10 mpg, and I still give free estimates, sure I could guess hoping the home owner actually knows the size of their yard, sure I could charge an estimate fee, but both of those could cause me to lose more money than doing the free estimate. Just like you said if you tell them to drive by 10 houses and if they see some they like call you and you will show them to them, they might just go elsewhere causing you to lose quite a bit more than even $50 in gas to drive them all around town.

Posted by Chris Horton (Horton's Lawn Care L.L.C.) over 9 years ago

Hi Karen,

Yes your post is similar to my posting!  Wow you were right except I said to sell 3 homes a year to pay for gas...because I pay $450 a month for gas.  Good Job!

Tom Davis

World Class Delaware Realtor

Posted by Anonymous over 9 years ago

Goodness I guess it logged me out when I was reading your post...lol well here is the rest of my information below,

Thanks,

Tom

Posted by Tom Davis, FREE Delaware Homes Search!, $$ Save $$ - Find Homes! Delaware Realtor (Harrington ERA,DE Homes For Sale, $$ Save $$ Buy Today !) over 9 years ago

I think we all have to be more careful to work with REAL CLIENTS.  Texas is doing better volume-wise then NY.  What is becoming problematic - unfortunately, is whether these people are SERIOUS or just tire kicking.  When I take people out I am often covering a large amount of territory.  I try NOT to go to several towns the firs time out. I want to see how serious they are and if they put anything on their "maybe list." If after 14-15 showings, they haven't chosen a couple of "maybes" I have to start thinking about whether I am wasting fuel and time.  I am letting people go more rapidly these days because there are so many people who are very ambiviant about buying and because I have been burned before driving all over the county with people who aren't really serious.  Last summer,  I had six buyers running me ragged.  Not ONE bought a thing.  One famous case: I put over 600 miles on my car with one client. I had an EBA bu they dumped me the minute it expired and bought FSBO a couple of months later.  I was absolutely furious. They had me running all over  the bloody county.   I'm learning that if the buyer is SERIOUS...they will have some "maybes" pretty early on and the word "compromise" and the phrase "give and take" are not bad words....

This may be more of reflection of the market and how many chronic fence-sitters everyone has than gas prices - although that pays a role when its' close to $50 to fill up a tank and I'm not getting sales.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 9 years ago

You are absolutely right, that as agents we shouldn't let the gas prices affect the way we do business.  We should, instead act and think like the rich do, and that is if something goes up, there's a way to make money on it.  We can either buy stocks where the oil industry is or simply take advantage of the situation and convince buyers to meet with us and let us drive them around.  Where I"m from, many buyers are reluctant to drive with the agents, so this gives us an upper hand now to use with buyers.  Close contact in the car with theses buyers is essential in building rapport.

Great post

Posted by Andy Park (Weichert Realtors FH Realty) over 9 years ago

Karen Anne,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. In tough times some agents try to cut the buyer's tours, some - save on marketing.  Yes, we need to consider all our expenses, we need to be more efficient. However, it's important to remember about the opportunity cost of our savings. Opportunity cost of gas savings might be very high - from loss of chance to ask our buyers the real questions and listen to important answers while driving to complete loss of business.

Posted by Svetlana Stolyarova, Local-n-Global Realty, Broker 216-548-4663 (Local-n-Global Realty, Cleveland and International Real Estate Solution) over 9 years ago

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