And avoid the worst ones!
by Neil Jenman
Reading time: 5.5 minutes
It’s happened to all of us. You’re outside on a beautiful day, soaking in the atmosphere, feeling good to be alive. Suddenly, it’s dark. As if someone turned the brightness down 80 per cent.
A dark cloud had blocked out the sun, that was all.
This is how Penny described the experience with her real estate agent. Everything was bright. He made her feel so good. She’d found an ethical agent.
But, within minutes of signing-up (15 minutes to be exact), everything went dark.
He said, “You know I think the price could be a bit optimistic.”
He wanted her to lower it. By $50,000.
What? Fifty thousand dollars in 15 minutes?!
Penny felt sick.
When the agent left her home, she started to read the listing agreement she signed.
[Note: These so-called “standard listing agreements” are legally binding contracts. Sign them at your peril].
And then she saw them – all the nasty clauses.
One of the greatest shocks was that the agent had signed her up for 180 days.
What a B, she thought.
He had taken advantage of her. A few months earlier, Penny had lost her mother. Weeks later, her husband walked out. And then Penny herself broke down.
And now she had poured her heart out to this agent. He even touched her arm just above the wrist. Sympathetic, caring.
Yea right, she sure fell for this one.
She gave the keys to her home to someone she had known for an hour. And someone from the second most distrusted profession. How stupid she felt.
Later, one of her girlfriends told her not to be too judgemental.
“The agent still has to sell your home,” she said.
“But look at this,” Penny replied, showing her friend the “marketing schedule”.
The two women looked at the charges Penny was being slugged – all of which were on top of the commission of almost 3 per cent.
The first – and biggest – charge was the “Premiere” real estate web site listing. This has become the newest great real estate rip-off.
How can every home-seller be offered a “premiere” listing – like every seat on a plane being first class?
There was a charge for a “copywriter” of $250.
There was a charge for a “drone shot” of $150.
There was a charge for “Day photos” of $350.
There was a charge for “Dusk photos” of $500.
And on it went, charges for this. Charges for that.
And yes, the “Chinese translation” too – $75.
There was even a charge for a “sticker” – presumably a sold sticker – of $40.
“Wow, it does look as if they saw you coming,” Penny’s friend mused.
And then she asked Penny, “Don’t you subscribe to Jenman? Why didn’t you contact Jenman Support?”
Penny said the agent seemed so honest, so nice, so caring, so ethical.
Until she signed.
Until she read the contract.
Until he slugged her credit card for five thousand dollars.
By this stage Penny was sobbing. She kept repeating the question, “What have I done?”
Penny’s friend, Rosalie, tried to calm her down. She assured Penny that the agent still had to sell the home and that Penny would not be forced to under-sell.
“You need to make sure he gets the price he first quoted you,” said Rosalie.
But how could Penny know what the agent would say to potential buyers?
Rosalie had an idea. She would contact the agent, masquerading as a buyer.
“Let’s wait and see what the agent is saying to buyers,” her friend told her.
Fast forward three days. Rosalie goes to Penny’s house. Penny knew something was wrong as soon as she saw the grim look on her friend’s face.
“Well, it seems you sure chose a dandy,” said Rosalie.
Here’s what happened: Rosalie sent a message to the agent saying she was an investor and asking for information about this house.
The agent replied with seven words – “This one is more suitable for you.”
He was switching her to another house. Oh, my goodness, Rosalie was shaking with rage.
But she persisted, sending a reply saying, “No, I want to look at this one. When can I see it?”
The agent replied, “First and last open house this Saturday 9:15 to 9:30.”
What did he mean by “first and last”?
Rosalie knew that her friend had been conned into signing-up for six months. Why did the agent only allocate 15 minutes in six months for inspections? She sent him another message. No reply. She messaged again. No reply.
Penny is now a nervous wreck.
But the agent sent her a text yesterday saying, “Good news, I sold your house?”
Penny replied, “How can you sell it without me?”
The agent texted back. Four blunt words, “I’ll call in tonight.”
No, you won’t.
By this stage, Penny had contacted Jenman Support. As she should have done before she approached any agent. When sellers enlist Jenman Support, they can sack agents without penalty or obligation at any time. Provided they contact us before they sign-up.
There are many lessons in Penny’s story for all sellers.
Here are four to remember (for now).
First, do not sign any “agreement” when you first meet an agent. Send it to someone who can help you cross out the nasty clauses.
Second, never sign-up for more than 30 days unless you have a guarantee that you can sack the agent without penalty or obligation at any time.
Third, do not give them money for marketing. It’s a rip-off, especially upgrade scams. Come on sellers, how can every seller listed by the same agent get priority?
Fourth, always spy on the agent before you list your home. Contact them by email and ask for information about a home for sale. If they betray the sellers – as Penny was betrayed – cross them off your list. If there is anything you don’t like about how they treat their current sellers, make sure you do not become one of their sellers.
Best of all, please follow this rule. Before you call an agent, call us at Jenman Support. In many cases, we have already done the “spying” for you. If not, we will do it immediately.
We will never let what happened to Penny happen to any sellers we are supporting.
It cost sellers nothing to use Jenman Support.
But sadly, as Penny discovered, it can cost plenty not to use Jenman Support.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is on helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our website or Facebook page will be deleted, ignored or well publicised – it depends on our mood.
But one thing will never vary: We will never stop doing what we love most – helping polite and honest consumers get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’ll help you too. Thank you.