When I think of real estate agents, my thoughts aren’t usually very generous. My view is that they are only one step better than used car salesmen and based on the last survey of Australia’s most trusted professions (or least trusted in this case), it looks like many people agree!
However, this post isn’t about bashing real estate agents. I’d like tell two stories, one that embodies why they rank 42 out of 45 and one that is completely the opposite.
My worst experience surrounds one young, suave agent. There were all the usual promises of getting us the best price, being the most knowledgeable about the area etc. I wasn’t convinced. There was something a little too sleek about him, but unfortunately, my ex-husband was very taken by his sales spiel and in the interests of a quick settlement, I agreed to using him.
Almost immediately, my gut proved right. He wouldn’t return my calls. He also had an incredibly frustrating habit of answering calls on his mobile phone and immediately hanging up. He didn’t divert his phone, he just answered and hung up! One can only assume that he either didn’t want to deal with the messages or he didn’t want to pay for retrieving the voicemails. Granted, this was in the days when mobile phone calls were still rather costly, but still, it was no excuse.
Then I returned home one day after an “open house” to find people waiting outside. The agent had not turned up! When I questioned him later, his response was “there didn’t seem to be much interest so we didn’t think anybody would turn up.”
When the property finally sold, he had the cheek to also include a charge for the property floorplan which I had provided! Another charge for work he didn’t do.
It’s clear that he took advantage of our situation. He knew that we were separating and were not on good terms and he knew that we needed a quick sale.
He got his commission but he didn’t earn it. He got paid only because my difficult personal situation tied my hands and I couldn’t sack him.
I haven’t thought about this agent for a long time, and while writing this post, curiosity got the better of me. I did a Google search and it seems they (family business) aren’t around anymore. Why am I not surprised?
People generally stand out for all the things that they do wrong but there are gems that stand out even in a profession as maligned as this one.
A few years after my horrible experience, I found myself in the position of a buyer. A property that my partner and I were interested in was passed in at auction and we commenced negotiations immediately after the auction. Our first offer was unfortunately $15,000 less that the vendors’ reserve and after negotiating for over two hours, the gap reduced to $5,000 but neither side would budge any further.
The agent was clearly at his wits’ end, and came up with what I still think is a very creative solution. He suggested a three-way compromise – for the sellers to move down another $2,000, for us to move up $1,000 and he would forgo $2,000 in commission to make up the difference.
I had never heard of a real estate negotiation quite like that – where the agent literally includes himself in the compromise. It worked. The sale was made that day.
This same agent also has a unique way of keeping in touch. Not the usual newsletters that no one pays attention to. Not annoying the “free market appraisals” calls. He keeps in touch by holding a draw at significant times of the year e.g. Christmas, by running a raffle and the only requirement of entry is that you email him. It’s a unique and cost-effective way of making sure his database stays current and that people remember him.
I googled him too and HE is still in business.