Or your relative or your neighbour or your colleague.
by Neil Jenman
Reading Time: apx 3 mins
You have a lovely home, and you decide to sell.
You choose an agent and sign the paperwork.
Later, you are chatting to your neighbour. They would love to buy your home. They want it for their parents who are getting on in years.
And so, your neighbour buys your home.
And now the agent – who has done nothing, charges you fifty thousand dollars.
Fifty thousand dollars!!
Suddenly you realise a nasty fact of real estate in the 2020s: If you sign-up you must pay-up.
Yes, once you sign-up with an agent, you must pay commission. It doesn’t matter who buys your home – your neighbour, your mother, your brother, your daughter, your boss, your best friend – even your life partner with whom you snuggle each night.
If you sign-up, you gotta pay up.
That’s the law. And most agents protect it fiercely. Cross them and they’ll sue you.
THE ONLY CERTAINTY
Once you sign-up with an agent, many things are uncertain. The final sale price will be uncertain. The number of inspections will be uncertain. The offers will be uncertain. The length of time your home is for sale will be uncertain.
Only one thing is certain when you sign-up with an agent: You must pay the agent.
Have you heard the expression: “Sign your life away!”?
Well, that’s basically what happens when you sign-up with a typical real estate agent.
No one else can sell your home without the agent getting paid. If they do, you can be forced to pay two commissions.
When you sign-up with an agent, you give the agent total control over your home. Exclusive rights. Great for the agent because, no matter what happens, you must pay the agent.
The full commission. No discount. No excuses. Fair or unfair. Ethical or unethical. It doesn’t matter. When your home gets sold, the agent gets paid.
Yes, once you sign that seemingly innocent listing agreement, you give the agent total control.
That’s why it’s called an Exclusive Selling Agency Agreement.
Just let that word “exclusive” sink in for a moment, please.
Just consider how you will feel if you sign-up to sell your home on Friday and on Monday one of your work colleagues wants to buy your home.
Even though the agent may never meet your colleague, you must pay the agent, say, $50,000 – or whatever commission applies to the price. It may only be $20,000.
But twenty thousand dollars is still a lot to pay for nothing.
All because most Listing Agreements are “Exclusive Selling Agreements”.
When you sign an exclusive agreement, you exclude everyone else. And you are not, as many people think, just excluding other agents, you are excluding other people.
Your agent is the “exclusive person”. No one can sell your home; no one can buy your home without you paying that agent the commission they demand.
But it’s not fair, you may argue. It’s not ethical for an agent to receive commission for not selling your home.
Fair or unfair has nothing to do with it. Likewise, ethical, or unethical. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is what you signed.
And when you sign an “EXCLUSIVE Selling Agency Agreement” you are excluding everyone from selling your home except the agent who signed you up.
Yes, as absurd as it seems, you are also excluding yourself. You don’t have the right to sell your own home – even to your Mum.
This is the position in which most home sellers place themselves.
But it does NOT have to be this way.
GIVE YOURSELF FREEDOM
All you have to do – to have freedom to sell your home to your best friend (or anyone close to you) without paying an agent – is change one word.
Change the word ‘Exclusive’ to the word ‘Sole’.
Instead of an Exclusive Agency Agreement, insist on signing a Sole Agency Agreement.
This means that the agent you select is still the only agent who can sell your home.
The only agent – not the only person. And not you.
With a Sole Agency you keep the right to sell your home to whomever you like. And you will not be obligated to pay an agent who did no work and never met the buyer.
Sure, if you want to pay the agent something – from the goodness of your heart – up to you.
IGNORE THEIR SCREAMS
Most agents will scream when you insist on a Sole Agency. They will give you all sorts of spurious reasons why you must sign an Exclusive Listing Authority.
Well enjoy watching how they try to justify the unjustifiable. How they fight for the right to get maximum commission for minimal (or zero) work.
Stand firm. Make it clear that you will not compete with the agent. Also make it clear that, in the unlikely event that your best friend or someone close to you buys your home, you are not going to be forced to pay full commission to the agent.
Guess who’s got control with a Sole Agency?
Yes, you, the home seller.
You decide if you wish to pay anything to the agent should you find the buyer for your home.
You can elect to pay something or nothing.
Sure, beats paying fifty thousand dollars for nothing. Sure, beats begging an agent to reduce their commission because your parents buy your home.
Stand firm. Tell the agents they can have two choices. Sole Agency or no agency.
But unless the agent deletes the nasty clauses in the standard “Exclusive Agreement” or gives you a written list of protection conditions, you also have two choices. Sign your real estate life away by ceding total control to the agent or find an agent with the integrity and intelligence to accept a Sole Agency.
You now have the right to sell your own home to your best friend – without being forced to pay thousands of dollars to someone who acts like your worst enemy.
So, when dealing with a typical agent, never sign an exclusive agency agreement. Insist on a SOLE AGENCY.
Oh, and one more thing: Before you sign-up, have the agreement checked. Make sure it is indeed a true Sole Agency.
After all, some agents can’t be trusted.
Sole Agency is the way to go.