by Neil Jenman
READING TIME: Apx 7.5 minutes
Most estate agents are massively overpaid.
Try selling a home on Sydney’s North Shore or Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs. One owner was asked to fork out more than $200,000 in commission to sell a modest family home.
Yes, TWO-HUNDRED-THOUSAND-DOLLARS to sell one home. And buyers are near begging to buy it. Think about that for a moment.
Another such home was owned by a doctor. He earns less than $200,000 a year. He forked out almost $100,000 for another modest home. It takes five to ten years to become a fully qualified doctor. To become a real estate agent, all you need is a pulse. Seriously, have you ever heard of anyone failing to “qualify” as a real estate agent? Neither has anyone else.
Here’s the sad part: If these sellers understood real estate (especially how agents work), they could save as much as a hundred thousand dollars.
And never mind what agents tell you, it takes the same time to sell a home for $300,000 in Bathurst or Burnie as it does to sell a home for millions of dollars in Sydney or Melbourne.
Here are some important points to help you to get a discount from an agent – or, at the very least, to make sure you are being treated fairly. As you deserve to be treated.
POINT 1 – JUSTIFY THE COMMISSION
Not all agents are over-charging – just most of them, most of the time.
If you get a great price, far more than you expected and you believe the reason you got such a price was the agent’s superb negotiating skill and massive effort, then sure, go ahead and pay a high fee.
The big word to remember, however, is JUSTIFY.
Can the agent justify charging the commission being asked?
Are you happy?
Again, if yes to both questions, then where’s the problem?
POINT 2 – PAY NOTHING FOR NOTHING!!
Nothing is more unfair in real estate than sellers having to fork out thousands of dollars when their homes are not sold. It’s absolutely outrageous. It’s also incredible how so many sellers “fall for it”. No one deserves to be treated in such an unethical manner.
Here’s what happens to thousands of sellers (Please do not let it happen to you):
The agent quotes you a selling price. You feel happy, so you sign-up with the agent.
Then the pressure starts. Lower the price. The market is saying your price is too high. The pandemic is causing prices to drop. You must drop your price if you want to sell.
You are not happy at being told one price before you signed-up and being pushed to lower your price as soon as you signed-up.
So, you do what seems reasonable. You withdraw your home from sale, thinking that will be the end of a rather unpleasant but thankfully now terminated relationship.
Suddenly, you get an invoice for five thousand dollars (often more) for “marketing expenses”.
You feel used and abused. The only reason you signed-up with the agent was because the agent quoted you a high price. And now that the agent failed to get the price quoted by the agent, you are expected to fork out thousands of dollars. For nothing.
Please do not swallow this nonsense that “your home was advertised therefore it’s only fair that you pay”.
The purpose of real estate advertising is rarely to “sell” your home. It’s to promote the agent and to find other leads for the agent.
Chances are almost certain that, if your home is advertised, the agents will get enquiry from other homeowners who want to sell. They will then list and sell those other homes and earn many thousands of dollars in commissions.
Consider this: Agents expect you to pay for the ads, yet they get the leads and the commissions on all the sales that come from those ads.
No excuses, no exceptions. Never put yourself in a position where you may have to pay something for nothing.
When you deal with an agent, your golden rule is: PAY NOTHING UNTIL YOUR HOME IS SOLD and you are happy with the price. No excuses, no exceptions.
You can even write those words on the selling agreement that the agent asks you to sign (that the agent signs too). “We will pay NO FEES for any reason until our home is sold and we are satisfied with the price and the service.”
POINT 3 – IGNORE “COMPANY POLICY”
Many agents say it’s their “company policy” to do something a certain way.
What about your policy?
You are the customers. So, you just say to the agents; “Well you might have your company policy, but we have our home owners’ policy and that policy is that we find an agent who only charges us once our home is sold and we are happy.”
Nothing is as important as your Home-Owners’ “EXPECTATION POLICY”.
POINT 4 – DON’T DISCOUNT ALONE
Unless your name is Robinson Crusoe, don’t let agents treat you as if you are alone. If they ask you to drop your price, you need to say, “What about your commission?”
If the agents quote you a price and a commission based on that price and then they ask you to take a substantial cut on your selling price, you must ask them to take a substantial cut in their commission.
Say: “We are in this together. If you want us to drop our price, you drop your commission.”
Please be firm. Agents don’t know what to do with strong sellers. They are used to pushing sellers around. Do not allow yourself to be pushed around.
This point – asking the agent to drop their commission if you must drop your price – should be almost mandatory if the agent suggested the price you are now trying to achieve.
It will be a different story, of course, if say, you want a million dollars for your home and the agent has always told you that your home should be priced at, say, $800,000.
But if the agent told you a million dollars (or whatever price) and you signed up based on that price and the agent now wants you to lower your price, it’s only fair that the agent lower their commission too.
POINT 5 – BEWARE OF INSTANT DISCOUNTERS
One of the most dangerous things that sellers do is sign-up with agents who are either advertising a lower fee or who quickly agree to a lower fee.
There is a saying in real estate that has a lot of truth to it: “If they give their own money away, what do you think they are going to do if you let them get their hands on your money.”
Cheap agents often get cheap prices.
In one recent case, a seller signed-up with a “flat-fee” agent. She may have saved $13,000 in commission but the home was short-sold by $545,000.
Avoid agents who always agree to work for peanuts. You know what that means.
POINT 6 – NEGOTIATE AT POINT OF SALE
One of the most common mistakes sellers make when trying to get a discount in commission is trying to negotiate when they first place their homes for sale. No. That’s the wrong time.
The time to negotiate the commission is when the agent has found a buyer, NEVER before.
There are two reasons why you must negotiate at the end, not at the beginning.
a. If the agent normally charges, say, 2.5 per cent and you ‘knock them down’ to 1.5 per cent, how much time and effort are they going to put into your home compared with other homes where they are getting a higher fee?
It’s obvious: If an agent has a hot buyer, which home will they try and sell to the buyer: the home where they get $15,000 or the home where they get $25,000?
Give agents an incentive to bring buyers to your home.
b. Once buyers fall in love with your home, they are not going to go away. The agent is then ‘stuck’ with those buyers ‘on’ your home.
Now, of course, if the buyers are prepared to pay you a great price, perhaps you may not need to ask for a discount.
But if the buyers want you to go down – as most buyers do –you can say to the agent: “If you expect us to drop our price, you have to drop your commission.”
Faced with the choice of getting, say, $15,000 (instead of $25,000) or getting nothing, most agents will agree to accept $15,000. You saved ten thousand dollars.
POINT 7 – FOCUS ON SERVICE AS WELL AS PRICE
Very few agents give great service. Most get things wrong, often many times. They are often late for appointments; they break promises. They tell you something that turns out to be untrue. Whether a mistake or misleading, the effect is the same.
Keep a list of all the ways in which the agent lets you down or does the wrong thing. And then, when the agent is telling you the commission you have to pay, you say that, “based on the lower level of service, we feel it’s only fair that we pay a lower fee.”
The lower fee compensates for the lower service.
Please be honest and fair.
In the rare cases where an agent does a great job, it may be fair to pay their suggested commission.
POINT 8 – COMMISSION IS ALWAYS NEGOTIABLE
If agents say they “never negotiate commission” ignore them. They are lying.
All commission is negotiable. Most selling agency agreements state that commission is negotiable and in some (maybe all) states, agents are bound by law to tell you that their commission rates are negotiable.
Sure, some agents fight harder than others to get the maximum they can, but there is no such thing as an agent who has never given a discount.
Just ask this question: “Has your agency every given a discount to any home sellers?”
And remember: You can negotiate anything in real estate. You can even make your contract subject to your favourite football team winning the next game – or the Grand Final. Sure, that’s ridiculous but it makes the point that everything is negotiable.
And always remember: It’s your property, you are the boss. The agent is your employee. Technically, that means the agent is (at law) your “servant”.
Agents must do what sellers tell them to do.
So, please, do not be one of the thousands of sellers who let agents push them around and tell them what to do.
You call the shots. That includes the price at which you agree to sell your home and the amount you agree to pay the agent.
This is all your personal customer policy. Getting a fair deal for yourself should be the only thing that’s not negotiable. A fair deal is the least you deserve.
If you need help to find an agent who will treat you well, you can use the FREE services of Jenman Support. With our help, we insist that agents agree to 8 PROTECTION POINTS before you sign-up with them.
We’d love to help you get the best price at the fairest cost.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Click below.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted, ignored or well publicised – it depends on our mood.
But one thing will never vary: We will never stop doing what we love most – helping polite and honest consumers get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’ll help you too. Thank you.