Explaining three vital words for property consumers
by Neil Jenman
Reading Time: 5 minutes
For more than 20 years, I have hammered the same message to home sellers and home buyers: DON’T SIGN ANYTHING! I have repeated it millions of times. I have printed all sorts of paraphernalia emblazoned with the “DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!” message.
From fridge magnets to pencils to notepads to baseball caps, this message has spread across our country. In 2002, I even wrote a book called: ‘DON’T SIGN ANYTHING! – How to Protect Yourself from the Tricks and Traps of Real Estate’.
When I walk down a street people often yell, “Hey, don’t sign anything!”.
I smile and continue.
And die a little inside, as I lament how I have failed to protect most consumers.
Despite all my effort, thousands of consumers sign-up every month to sell or buy property without taking a few minutes to read what they are signing.
By signing documents that salespeople place under their noses, consumers lose massive amounts of money. Most never realise how much they have lost. It’s only when they try and sell that they realise they bought a dud property.
As so many shattered investors say, “Our lives are ruined.”
And yet, if they had gone to a decent independent solicitor, they’d have been okay. So too if they had done independent research. Or hired an independent valuer. But no, they swallowed the slick sales spiel and signed on the dotted line with someone they barely knew. They ignored my warning, DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!
So too thousands of home sellers who sign-up every month to sell their homes with agents they barely know. The agents assure them that “this is the way it’s done”. And, then what social psychologist, Robert Cialdini, calls “social proof” kicks in. Because everybody does it, it must be okay.
It’s never okay to sign-up with an agent to sell your home without taking the time to read what you are asked to sign. Without seeking advice from someone who’s not going to pocket tens of thousands of dollars in commission, home-sellers are almost guaranteeing they will lose tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars. As with naïve investors, naïve home sellers rarely realise they have been ripped-off. It’s as if they sell their homes, move out, and leave a suitcase full of cash in their lounge rooms.
Here’s one of many truths in the real estate world: If homeowners took time to understand what they are being asked to sign, they’d be horrified.
The clauses in the fine print in every real estate selling agency agreement are onerous beyond belief. Home sellers cede all their rights and all their power to agents. Agents whose goal in life is to sell homes at any price and bag a huge commission.
Almost all home sellers sign-up blindly with agents. Such lack of care costs them dearly. They short-sell their homes and pay too much in expenses.
The amount by which homes are short-sold can easily exceed a hundred thousand dollars, sometimes several hundreds of thousands. As for expenses, almost all sellers pay for needless advertising. And, once their homes are short-sold, most sellers pay too much in commission.
And yet, many home sellers have heard the warning: DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!
But they still signed-up with a real estate agent.
Why? How can they be so financially irresponsible?
Two reasons perhaps: First, they feel “this agent is quite nice”. And therefore, they feel safe.
Yet here’s another truth: Anyone who signs-up with an agent without thoroughly reading what they are asked to sign and without deleting nasty clauses in the agent’s document, is not safe.
The second reason home sellers sign-up with agents despite the three-word warning, DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!, is because they don’t understand it. They don’t get it.
Oh sure, they like the message. It makes them smile. But hey, we must sign something to sell our homes. It’s the law.
Yea sure, “Sign here. Press hard. Second copy’s yours.”
So clearly, I am not explaining myself well: When I say, “DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!”, I should add four more words: “UNTIL YOU ARE SAFE”.
Yes, you are right. You must sign something.
But why sign a document at the behest of someone will make thousands of dollars after you sign?
Why sign something without reading it before you sign?
Why sign something without taking time to think it over? Those three words – ‘THINK IT OVER’ – add to your protection. They can save you.
Why sign exactly what an agent tells you to sign? Most consumers don’t realise it, but they are within their rights to delete nasty clauses in an agent’s contract.
Why sign something without getting independent advice from someone you trust?
One more truth: An agent who pushes you to sign today, will still be around in two or three days.
So, stop. Take time to think carefully about what you are doing before you do it. Think about your past mistakes – in all aspects of your life: Most mistakes can be traced back to when you signed something.
Your signature is one thing over which you have complete control.
Treat your signature with respect. It’s your path to riches and happiness – if you are sensible. But, if you are irresponsible, your signature can lead to massive losses. And serious misery.
So please, for your sake, DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!
UNTIL YOU ARE SAFE.
FOOTNOTE: My name is Neil Jenman. I help and support real estate consumers, usually for free. Including my books, many of which I give away. I will do almost anything to protect real estate consumers. Before you buy an investment property, contact me. I will share my thoughts.
Before you call an agent to sell your home, call me. If you agree to stick with me and follow my safety suggestions, I will give you a free copy of my book DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!
And no, I won’t ask you to sign anything. Just give me your word that you will use my help to protect yourself. A handshake is all I ask – even an on-line one.
I will help you find an agent who will not over-charge you nor under-sell your home. I will assist you to delete nasty clauses in an agent’s agreement – or send you to a solicitor for legal advice.
At Jenman Support, we support real estate consumers