Apparently customers aren’t "part of the family"

I couldn’t help but have one of those feel good moments after our company helped this young couple save so much money at closing. This story is not exceptional; the scenario I’m sharing is fairly typical for a new construction settlement when we’re involved.

As the title agent hired by this Bucks County couple, we scheduled the settlement at the most convenient place for the buyers.  We don’t charge a closing fee in Pennsylvania, no matter where we hold the settlement.  In this case, we met at a Keller Williams office, where we were joined by the buyers’ real estate agent, the mortgage representative and the seller. In about an hour, all the paperwork was signed and there was nothing but smiles around the settlement table.

After the closing, the buyer’s agent confided that the couple was not smiling at all when she provided them with their first estimate of closing costs.  In-fact, Mrs. Buyer started to cry when she looked at the amount due from the borrower, which their agent prepared as if they were using the Keller Williams in-house mortgage and title companies.  The agent assured her buyers “not to worry, you’re not using my in-house providers so your costs will be significantly lower than the estimate.” And she was right, by a few thousand dollars.

It was the buyer’s mortgage representative (who was a relative of the buyer) that informed the buyers that they were free to use the title company of their choice and suggested they get a quote from us at   Compared to the Keller Williams in-house title company, we saved the buyers over $400 in title fees.  And because they were buying new construction and the builder wasn’t using a standard agreement of sale, we had our real estate attorney review and revise the agreement, at no extra charge.  This saved them an additional $200, maybe more.

I replied by telling the agent that it would be our pleasure to offer all of her buyers the same service and savings that today’s buyers enjoyed. Unfortunately, her response didn’t surprise me at all. She told me that she would love to refer her customers to ALT, but (there’s usually a “but” at this part of the conversation) her broker has an ownership interest in the in-house title company and he would not be happy if she suggested that her customers use another title company. I kind of chuckled to myself because this is the same real estate company that refers to their annual meetings as “family reunions.”

Apparently the customers aren’t considered part of the family.  Would you tell your Aunt Martha that she should patronize your friend’s business, knowing that he’ll over charge her and give you a cut?  I highly doubt it.

If this agent’s response was the exception in the real estate world, that would be one thing, but it’s more like the standard.  It’s a standard that needs to changed, and we’re committed to changing it one satisfied customer at a time.

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