Screw Up? Blame the Other Agent!

J Philip Faranda June 27, 2009

One of the lowest things an agent can do in this day and age is to blame the agent on the other side when he or she screws up. Here’s one recent event. 

I listed a single family home for lease earlier this month. The date of availability was August 1 due to the current tenant’s schedule to move out. Two families cannot live in the same house at the same time in my experience. We got a number of offers, but many put down June 15 as the proposed start date. All were told that we could not accommodate that. After asking the current tenant when the earliest was that they could vacate, we were told mid-July. We therefore informed all the June people that mid July was the soonest we could offer occupancy.

One agent in particular called me quite a few times about his client’s desire to rent the place as soon as possible. He was told the same thing as the others: mid July was the best we could do for him. Other than the June start date, his clients were good prospects, and he was told that if he could confirm that July would work for his people that my landlord would send them a lease. He was “pretty sure” that would work, but he promised to call the wife and get back to me with confirmation. We had this conversation at least twice. 

He did not get back to me. 

We agreed to lease to someone else. 

About a week later, the disappearing agent reappeared. He asked where the lease was. Now, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts: it is a fact that the ball was in his court to confirm that his clients would be able to start their lease in mid July and not June, as they had originally proposed. I reminded him of this. He did not disagree, but was disappointed I didn’t call him to tell him we were going to go with someone else (something I neither promised not was obligated to do) and voiced a concern that his people had not yet found a place. I told him I didn’t hear from him for a week, and figured that he found them something else. 

That is where it should have ended. It didn’t. This agent begged me to ask my client to reconsider. My client did not want to, for obvious reasons.

In an email last week and then a phone message this week,  I had to hear what a bad job I did. It didn’t sit well with him. I got the sense that this was being done more as a rump-covering measure than advocacy. He screwed up, yet I was the bad guy. It didn’t add up, unless his client was blind copied on that email or present in his office when he called. Not happy with the inconsistency, I sent him a rather detailed email earlier today reminded him that HE screwed up, not me. His response was strangely magnanimous, not really that of a chastened guy, but one who wasn’t grandstanding. Am I certain he’s throwing me under the bus to deflect responsibility? Not 100%, but I know where I’d put my chips if I were betting. If I am right about this, that is a big shame. If you screw up, man up and deal. Don’t deflect. 

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