by Neil Jenman
READING TIME – APX 2.5 minutes.
Recently, a home-seller signed-up to sell her home with an agent. What happened next is what happens to thousands of sellers. The only difference is that this seller is now so angry, she has decided to do something drastic – that’s not recommended.
Okay, first, let’s look at what happened. It’s the usual story: Upon meeting the seller and seeing her home for the first time, the agent couldn’t have been nicer. Courtesy for the seller and praise for the property. As for the price, well, of course, for a property of this quality, you’ll get a great price – way beyond your wildest dreams. Exactly what the seller hoped to hear.
Because everything seemed so good, the sellers were happy to sign-up exclusively with the agent for a period of 120 days. This means, of course, that no one else can sell that home in the period of 120 days without the agent being paid their full rate of commission.
Now, here’s a real estate fact: The high point in the relationship between an agent and the home sellers is almost always at the point of signing the agents’ selling agreement. That’s when sellers feel they have chosen an agent who treats them with respect and an agent who’s confident of getting a great price. Sadly, though, for many sellers, from the point of signing-up with an agent, it’s downhill all the way.
Unfortunately, many agents seem to have split personalities. Before the sellers agree to sign-up, some agents are charming and courteous; they are also full of praise about the property and how valuable it is. The agents are ever-so-confident they can sell the home for a high price.
But then, once the sellers sign on the dotted line and appoint the agent, that’s when the second personality of some agents emerges. Suddenly, the agent is not so easy to contact. Also, the sellers’ home is not quite as good as it first seemed. As for the price, well, it seems “the market” is saying something completely different to what the agent once said, even a few days earlier.
Now, please, sellers are not stupid. They can clearly see what’s going on and they are furious – the agent used false charm to win them over and probably lied about the price. But, now that the agent has got the sellers signed-up for as much as 120 days (sometimes as long as six months), the agent knows that the sellers are “locked-in” or, as it’s called in the industry, “tied-up” for several months. And there’s not a darned thing the sellers can do about it.
Seriously, it is easier to leave a bad spouse than a bad agent. At least with your spouse you can walk out the door and take up with another partner immediately. Try doing that with an agent and you’re likely to be sued. This is what the seller mentioned at the start of this article has decided to do. She is so upset at the change in personality of the agent that she is now willing to be sued rather than stay with the first agent. That’s drastic action – far too drastic.
Now, all this could have been avoided if the seller had done one thing in the beginning: She should have held the agent to a MAXIMUM TIME on the selling agreement of 30 days. If the seller was happy with the agent, then, at the end of the 30-day period, she could extend the agreement for another 30 days. And so on and so on.
It is often said that there are only three ways to truly know a person: Live with them, holiday with them or work with them. Well, when you sign-up with an agent, you are “working” with them – and if you are not happy with their work, then, at worst, you should only have to put up with them for 30 days not three, four or even six months.
Now, please stand firm. No matter how wonderful an agent appears to be, remember this: When anyone has the chance of earning a big commission, of course, they will be charming and courteous. Of course, they will quote you a temptingly high price. But then, once they have got you signed-up for a long period, they can do anything they like and there’s nothing you can do about it – unless you want to get involved with legal action.
So, for your sake, play it safe. Tell the agent the following: “You seem like a good agent, we like all that you have said, especially about the price, so we are prepared to list our home with you for 30 days. If we are happy with your service, we will consider extending the agreement for another 30 days. And so on, until such time as our property is sold. But 30 days is the maximum we will give to you or any agent – unless there are extenuating circumstances.”
Of course, if the agent is genuine and truthful, if they are not a split-personality type who is deceiving you with fake charm and a false price quote, they will agree to a 30-day time limit on the selling agreement.
If they don’t agree, then, seriously, what is that telling you?
Thirty days, that’s the maximum time to sign-up with an agent until you’re confident they can be totally trusted. This is how you’ll be sure of not being “tied-up” with an agent who’s both untruthful and unpopular.
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