And how you can protect yourself
by Neil Jenman
Reading time: apx 11 mins
The number one goal of all politicians, especially at election time – is to win your vote.
The number one goal of all agents, at any time, is to win new listings. A “listing” is the name agents give to a home for sale.
The oft-heard phrase, “We need more listings,” means, “We need more homes to sell.”
The best way for agents to lure sellers is to do what politicians are now doing to lure voters: tell lies.
And lots of lies. The more lies, the more chance of success.
And don’t forget the size of a lie: The bigger a lie, the more chance of winning the vote. Or the listing. Oh – and by the way – politicians and agents now rank alongside each other as second last and last when it comes to public trust.
We don’t trust them.
Yet we still vote for the politicians.
And we still sign-up with the agents.
Whether you are voting or selling, you are being wooed with lies. Indeed, no matter how noble their early career intentions, both agents and politicians soon accept an awful truth: If they don’t lie, they don’t get elected or selected.
And yet, despite getting constantly caught by the cavalcade of lies, so many of us – voters and sellers – seem to keep forgetting: Once they “get” us, they ditch us.
Agents and politicians are notorious for breaking promises. They can’t help it – it’s part of their nature. If they don’t tell lies, they don’t “get” us. And then, once they get us, if they kept their promises, they’d go broke.
Just as politicians can’t pay for their promises agents can’t sell our homes for the prices they promised – especially when a boom is over, as in many areas now.
So, we all need to understand that lying is part of the business of winning our business or our vote – and then, later, deflecting the blame is part of the process of persuading us that it’s “not their fault.”
With politicians, it’s the economy. With agents it’s the market.
THE WAY IT IS – ACCEPT IT.
In the late 1970s, I read a book called The Road Less Travelled. I’ll never forget the opening three-word sentence: “Life is difficult.”
That statement is based on the first of the Buddha’s four great truths, namely that “Life is suffering.” Or, as our then PM, Malcolm Fraser, said: “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.”
The author of The Road Less Travelled was M. Scott Peck, an army psychiatrist. After announcing the great truth about life being difficult, he wrote:
“This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
So please, as we head out to vote this weekend or we decide to call an agent about selling our home, let’s accept an important fact: Politicians and agents lie to win our votes and listings.
As far as voting is concerned, I don’t want to give either advice or opinion. Not here. I get enough flak from friends on my personal Facebook page. Suffice to say, I believe character is vitally important and if we excuse behaviour that would ordinarily be inexcusable by saying: “It’s not the person, it’s the policy,” we head down a frightening path. Just read Gandhi’s opinion on ‘7 Things That Will Destroy Us’.
What we must try to do, therefore, is accept that “lying” is simply the way it is in the world of politics or real estate.
BEING CAUGHT BY LIARS.
There are few things more frustrating than being caught by lies. Especially when, at least when it comes to real estate agents, we should know better.
Please see it from their side – or as Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand” and you may accept why agents consider it essential to lie to win the right to sell (“list”) your home.
It’s a well-known fact among agents: Those who give the best presentation to sellers are most likely to be the chosen agents.
And the “best” presentation – let’s face it – means the best price. If you interview three agents before selling your home, it’s almost impossible to resist choosing the agent who gives you the best price for your home. Throw in the lowest commission and well, by then, most sellers are reaching for the pen to “sign-up.”
But then, as is going to happen more often after the election if the boom continues to unwind – terrible things start to happen to sellers.
Having won the listing with the biggest lie, the agent now shifts their focus to part two of their mission (to make money out of you). Sell your home.
Not sell for the price they quoted you, no way. That price was a lie, remember.
No, the agent will sell your home for whatever price he or she can persuade, cajole, coerce, manipulate, pressure, or bully you to accept. A current method widely used by agents is the scare tactic. They tell you that if you don’t sell today for this horribly low offer, you’ll be forced to sell for much less a few weeks from now.
You know what they are doing to you. It’s like when a coercive partner says you’ll never find someone else. It’s designed to control you and make you do what they want you to do. And, for most agents what they want you to do is this: SELL AT ANY PRICE.
That’s how they get paid their commission.
How you wish you could walk out. How you wish you had not been caught by an obvious lie. Hey, come on, don’t blame yourself: Agents who sell the most properties are often the best at telling lies.
The agents who make the most sales are often those agents who have the biggest difference between the quoted selling price and the actual selling price.
They are, people, the biggest liars. That’s how real estate operates. It’s how agents get selected. Like how politicians get elected.
But here’s where you strike your big problem. You chose an agent who was the best at lying and you signed a document (euphemistically called a “listing agreement”) which was a heavily binding legal document filled with terms, conditions, and clauses with one primary aim – to protect the agent.
Yes, the biggest liar got the job of selling your home. And you gave that liar the biggest possible protection because you signed a document that contained horrendous clauses that work against your interests.
At least with a politician you can switch votes next time. With a real estate agent, you can’t switch. You are stuck. More stuck, more “tied up” or more “controlled” (these are all terms agents use) than any job or personal relationship.
You must stay with that agent. There is no escaping a bad agent if you signed their contract.
You can walk out of a personal relationship and move in with a new partner within an hour of leaving your previous partner. Not so with real estate. Your first agent can sue you, force you to pay double commission, lodge a caveat on your home and make your life misery.
All because you didn’t take the time to do one thing before you signed up with the agent – you did not protect yourself.
For the inexperienced (most sellers) it seems hard to believe they can get themselves into so much trouble trying to sell their homes. In just about every business or relationship, if you want out, you can get out.
Not under normal conditions with normal real estate agents.
As Scott Peck wrote at the start of his book, “Life is difficult.”
When it comes to selling your home, it should read, “Life is more than difficult, it is horrendous if you make the mistake of choosing the biggest liar and compound that awful mistake by signing that agent’s so-called “standard agreement” (read “nasty legally oppressive contract”).”
So, here is what to do: Insist the agent gives you a series of “outs.”
At Jenman Support, we call them “protection conditions.” Before suggesting an agent to you, that agent must agree to eight protection conditions. These conditions give you the safety, the security, and the rights you should always get – and, in many cases, mistakenly thought you would get.
These conditions can be summed up in one sentence: “The agent is not allowed to rip-off the sellers.”
Or, if you prefer to be less confrontational: “The agent must place the interests of the sellers ahead of the interests of the agent.”
Two of our favourite protection conditions are these:
The sellers will not be asked to pay any money for any reason until their home is sold and they are happy with the price achieved by the agent and the service delivered by the agent.
And this one:
The seller can sack the agent and choose a different agent if the seller is unhappy because the agent has acted improperly or unethically.
And, of course, all commission is negotiable until the point of sale. It’s amazing how much harder agents try when they know they must lower their own commission if they expect the sellers to lower the selling price.
Okay let them tell their lies – that’s the way the industry works. But don’t you, the seller, become the scapegoat for their lies.
Make sure you protect yourself before you sign-up. Indeed, if you want proof that an agent is lying about the quoted selling price, ask them to write the following sentence into their selling agreement: “If the home sells for less than the price quoted by the agent when the sellers signed-up with the agent, then, if the sellers so insist, the agent will agree to forfeit all commission.”
If the agent refuses to sign such an agreement, ask why. Sort of like a political party opposing a body that monitors its level of honesty. Why?
A FINAL WORD.
Just as it’s your vote when you walk into the polling booth on Saturday and you know what is likely to happen if your candidate (or party) is elected, so must you realise that it is your home or property that you are selling.
If the agent gets selected, you must – and this is essential for your own protection and peace of mind – be able to keep control. Yes, the agent will almost certainly lie to you about your likely selling price. But if they are prevented from pressuring you, and bullying you, and suing you – and many of the other common ‘nasties’ inflicted upon thousands of sellers, guess what?
The agent will try harder and perform better when you, the owners, are in control.
And that gives you the best chance of getting the best price.
Life is difficult, true. But be sure it becomes at least as difficult for the agent as you. You must not have the typical scenario where life is difficult for the seller, but easy for the agent.
It’s your home. You are the “employer” of the agent. If that agent does not always act in your best interests, you must have the right to do what you would do in any bad relationship, personal or employment. Get out and find someone better.
You can’t stop agents and politicians from lying to you.
But you can stop yourself from suffering because of their lies. You can insist that the agent agrees to conditions that protect your interests.
Good luck. May you elect and select well.