Top SF Realtor POV: Got Manners?

Top SF Realtor POV: Got Manners?

Writings about residential real estate and all things home, by Cynthia Cummins and Lisa Riddle of Kindred SF Homes.

Reading time: 3 minutes

“Because of pandemic rust, a generational shift or something else, the working world is getting ruder, many say.” ~ Wall St. Journal

Kindred colleagues Lisa Riddle and Cynthia Cummins – in the wake of some shockingly rude behavior by a vendor – were lamenting what seems to be a post-pandemic deterioration in knowing how to act in the real estate world. Here’s what was said: 

Cynthia: Have you noticed that people are ruder at open houses than they used to be?

Lisa: I think that people may just be ruder in general than they used to be. Whether or not we blame it on the pandemic, I think people forgot how to be appropriate. They’ve stopped feeling the need to be even remotely civilized. Basic manners go a long way. Like, “Hello, how are you?” Or “Nice to meet you; my name is so and so.” Or “Thank you, I appreciate your time.” It’s nice to receive more than a grunt when you ask somebody a question.

Cynthia: Wow, it's not like you are a pushy salesperson – breathing down their necks and asking uncomfortable questions. We're just talking about basic courtesy and cordiality.

Lisa: Yes. When I say, “Hi, welcome! I’m Lisa” and the person just glances at me and walks on by, it’s always surprising. I'm not asking them for their Social Security number. I'm not asking them anything at all. Just making friendly chitchat like, “Oh, what an adorable dog you have!” Never mind that they’ve brought the dog inside without asking permission. Never mind that I’m curious about why the dog is wearing a cone of shame.

Cynthia: At open houses over the years, I've had people do all kinds of wacky doodle things. My theory is it stems from a fear of being “sold” or being hustled. It’s a fear of real estate agents. I don't feel like I've ever been an imposing or threatening-looking person, but I've literally had buyers come to an open house and shield themselves by holding the property flyer over their heads like they're dodging the paparazzi! 

Lisa: I've had the experience where open house visitors refuse to make eye contact. You’re standing in the dining room in the corner. You're not standing at the top of the stairs ready to accost them the second they enter the house. They want to see the dining room, but they keep their eyes on the floor or they scan the wall and go around me in a big loop, visually.  I agree that the two of us are pretty unscary. I don't understand the fear. Maybe they’re worried that if they engage and we think they're interested, we’re going to jack the price up on them.

Cynthia: It’s like they’re worried we’re going to wrestle them to the ground, pin them down and make them sign an irrevocable contract to buy the place. Even if they can't afford it. Even if they weren't even thinking about buying. Even if they just came in to use the bathroom. Which – speaking of – that’s another way people are rude lately at open houses. That's a different version of rude.

Lisa: That’s blatantly rude. They’ll say, “I just need a toilet.” And I say, “Please don’t use our client’s bathroom; there’s no toilet paper.” And I've been met with, “Oh, I'll just drip dry!” That’s TMI. Way too much TMI.

Cynthia: It's definitely TMI to come in and go into the bathroom and stay for 45 minutes and now the open house is over and you, the agent, are standing outside the bathroom door and you're not hearing anything. Maybe you're smelling something. (Laughing.) It’s hard to know what to do in that situation.

Lisa: I’ve not yet encountered that particular scenario. I think I'd probably start walking up and down the hall saying, “I’m closing up! We’re getting ready to go home! I’m going to turn off the lights and lock the door! Is anybody in there?”

Cynthia: I’m going to stop laughing long enough to say that there is a real safety concern when you have somebody lingering or coming in late. We always need to be on our toes. But I really have gotten tired of having buyers show up at the last minute, just when the open house has ended. I'm always cordial. I always say, “Oh, hey, I was just finishing up, but I want you to be able to see the place. Please come on in.” What bugs me is that those people often don't even say, “Thank you for staying late.” Or they come in and they spend an hour! 

Lisa: There’s another version of weird where, instead of avoiding you like the plague, the visitor is insultingly aggressive with questions and comments.  You’re met with “Well, that's a ridiculous price!” and “Why are they selling?” and “What’s wrong with the place?” and “You couldn’t pay me to live here!” and “Did you hear about the mugging on the corner last week?” We just have to smile and say, “Well, isn’t that interesting…”

Cynthia: There’s no getting around the fact that people are just strange and weird. That includes me and you. Like it or not, we’re pretty eccentric ourselves – albeit lovable. I guess we just always have to remember that everybody's fighting their own battles and so on. And some folks didn't learn good manners or basic courteous behaviors. All we can do is love them as much as we can and keep the door open, right?

Lisa: Yes, we’ll just keep saying “Hello” and “Welcome.” We’ll smile and we’ll be nice. And we’ll believe what we’re saying – that everyone is welcome. Even if they ask for the toilet.

Photo Credit: Henry & Co.

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