When you speak with agents, always record what they say!
by Neil Jenman
Real estate support you can trust
You are about to learn an idea that will protect you from being stung by real estate agents.
The digital age seems to almost dominate our lives. Nearly overnight, cameras, recording devices and even tracking systems are everywhere. Someone always seems to be watching or listening to us. These are the days of CCTV, dash-cams and, of course, the ubiquitous smartphone. Listening or watching has become part of what we do. And the one we seem addicted to the most is ‘reality’ – we love to watch others either with reality TV shows such as Married at First Sight or YouTube which didn’t exist until 2005, but now gets over 30 million visitors a day. Every minute of every day, more than 300 hours of recorded content is uploaded to YouTube.
At every accident or crime scene, police are requesting dashcam or smart-phone video footage. Criminals are being caught, racists are being exposed, hooligans are being ashamed.
But what about real estate agents?
Not long ago, I attended a real estate auction. When the auctioneer began his preamble, I began to film him. He demanded I stop. I replied: “Are you ashamed of the words that come out of your mouth?” He cited “company policy” and told me that if I didn’t stop recording, I would have to leave the premises. As I was the eventual buyer, he clearly cared more about what I might record him saying, than whether his clients sold their home. As happens, in most auctions, I bought the home for a hundred thousand dollars below my maximum price because, like all auctions, the focus is on the sellers’ lowest price not the buyers’ highest price.
What about when you’re thinking of selling your home and you’re interviewing a few agents and they all turn up with their slick lines and big promises about what a great price they are going to get for you? If you own the home, you are entitled to record them – provided you notify them. And you should record them, for many reasons, mostly your financial safety.
Don’t be shy. Consider all the times we use recording devices these days. What could be a more appropriate occasion to record someone than the agent to whom you are considering putting in charge of your greatest financial asset?
Think of the complaints made about agents. They are nearly all ‘he-said-she-said-we-said’ which, in the end – especially if things turn nasty (as they often do) – come back to that hugely frustrating saying when dealing with deceivers, “Your word against theirs”.
But not if you record them. If there is a dispute later about what was said, you simply say, “Well, let’s check the recording, eh?” It’s near-perfect protection for you. No longer can there be any doubt about who said what or when they said it. It’s all there – on your smartphone.
This will be one of the best ideas for keeping yourself safe in the murky real estate world.
Here’s how you can remove your shyness and stay firm about something that’s right for you. As soon as the agent comes to your home, push ‘record’ on your phone and say: “As we don’t sell our home regularly, we want to lower the chance of any misunderstandings or confusion. For that reason, we are insisting on recording everything agents tell us. Of course, this means we will also be recording ourselves so it’s good for you too. However, under the law, we must advise you that we are going to be recording you. And we are quite happy to give you a copy of the recording for your records too, that way you can be sure that the recording will be complete and uncut. Are you alright with that?”
A few agents might splutter a little. Some may say they are “not comfortable” with you recording them. In which case, ask them why. Obviously, honest agents will be fine with your recording anything they say. The dodgy agents, well, they will be uncomfortable.
So, instantly, within seconds of them arriving at your home, you can sort each agent into honest or dodgy. Now, of course, if the dodgy ones agree to be recorded, they are going to find it much harder to suggest any of their deceptive tricks when they know they are being recorded. So, by insisting on recording them, not only do you sort out the honest agents from the dishonest ones, you force dishonest agents to abandon their dishonest ways. How good is that?!
Be warned: Some agents do not know how to be straight. They will be like that incompetent auctioneer – clearly, he did not want me to record him under-selling a home. The same will apply when you are interviewing agents, the dodgy ones, the worst of the worst, may do all they can to bully you into turning off your recording device. But please, under no circumstances should you agree to stop recording. If any of the agents insist on you not recording them, you simply say, “Unless you are prepared to let us record what you tell us, we are not comfortable considering you as an agent to sell our biggest financial asset.”
And, please: Always remember to put your phone on ‘flight-mode’ (you’ll find it at the top in ‘settings’). If you don’t put your phone on to ‘flight mode’ and an incoming call arrives while you are recording, your device will stop recording. ‘Flight mode’ blocks incoming calls.
So, there you have it. An idea that will not only give you great protection from the lies that so many agents tell sellers, it will give you peace of mind knowing that if there are any disputes with the agent in the future, you have an accurate record of what was said and by whom. Also, it’s not just the initial sales pitch when the agent is trying to persuade you to sign-up with their office that you should record, make it clear from the start, that you intend to make an audio recording at all times when the agent speaks with you, either in-person or by-phone.
How wonderful to have control over the agents instead of the other way around.
And, by the way, this idea doesn’t have to be used just on real estate agents. Any time you are being given a pitch by a salesperson about anything, you can insist on audio recording their words.
Stay strong. And remember the most important point when selling your home. It’s your home, you are the boss. You are employing the agent to do a job for you. You set the rules. If any agents don’t like your rules, you just find another agent. Or call Jenman – Real Estate Support you can trust, on 1800 1800 18.