by Neil Jenman
READING TIME: APX 5.5 minutes
For years, I have said three words to real estate consumers – “DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!” I have said it in articles, I have said it on radio, I have stared down the lens of cameras and said it on television; I have said it to tens of thousands of consumers in town halls and meeting rooms across the nation; I have had vehicles, baseball caps, umbrellas, pens, pencils and T-shirts emblazoned with those three words. I even invested two years and wrote a comprehensive book called “DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!” which was displayed in the entire window of Australia’s biggest and most famous bookstore, Dymocks, in George Street, Sydney.
In total, my three-word “Don’t Sign Anything!” message has reached millions of Australians. I even registered those words so that no one in real estate other than me and my small number of committed Jenman Approved agents can say them.
And yet, every week in Australia almost ten thousand home-sellers still sign-up with dodgy agents. They still get ripped-off, they still pay millions of dollars in needless expenses and, worst of all, more than 80 per cent of them still under-sell their homes by thousands of dollars.
And then, when many get into trouble, they contact me and say such things as: “Loved your book Neil, but I signed-up for auction and got conned into wasting thousands of dollars in advertising and now the agent is asking me to drop the price by $200,000 less than he assured me I’d get. But that was before I agreed to sign-up. How things changed once we signed that ‘Selling Agency Agreement’!”
Honestly, at times, I feel like such a failure. Especially when sellers ask me to rescue them when, if they had contacted me before contacting an agent, I could have protected them. Not contacting me before you sell is the real estate equivalent of having no seat belts. No worse, it’s like riding a motorcycle at high-speed on wet roads with no helmet. Very dangerous – and needlessly so, that’s what so distresses me. Seeing sellers fail makes me feel I’ve failed.
How do I beat the big real estate machine that spreads so much sophistry in so many ways? How do I combat agents who tell sellers one of the biggest of many lies they tell about me – “Neil Jenman sold his own home by auction.” Rubbish, I would never be so stupid as to sell any property by public auction. Any agent who recommends that any homeowner sells by public auction is either stupid or dishonest. Or both.
The real estate industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry – in fees and charges for all sorts of so-called “services” (never mind the value of the homes!) from advertising to staging to companies claiming to find you the best agent at the cheapest fee when all they really do is give your name to most agents in your area and score a juicy fee no matter what happens.
There are now so many different people sticking their snouts in the real estate trough and using more deceit to justify their charges or, worst of all, claiming to be “free” when they are raking in millions for doing nothing. The scent of money in real estate is like blood in the water for sharks.
As one seller in a high-end Sydney suburb said recently, “I can see the dollar signs in the eyes of everyone who turns up to our home.” This lady was quoted almost eighteen thousand dollars for some gardening work. As I told her: “They wanted $18,000 to mow your lawn!” to which she laughed aloud. Yes, almost that blatant.
After asking around, she finally got a quote almost $15,000 cheaper. Had she called me earlier, she could have saved even more. But still, she is one of the lucky ones. Her late father was an avid reader and loved my books. He bought multiple copies and gave them to friends with a simple instruction: “Read this before you sell your home.”
And that’s what I do for you, the sellers and buyers of Australia. I give you information that saves you thousands of dollars; no, make that tens of thousands of dollars. Often more.
I am convinced – in fact, I can prove it to you – that if you take a few minutes to do some serious research, you can discover how to be thousands of dollars ahead when you swim with the sharks in the real estate ocean. As I often tell sellers – those I do save – “I am the only person who won’t ask you for money or to sign-up. Everything I do is in your best interests.”
So why do so many home-sellers still cause themselves so much financial and emotional pain by signing-up with dodgy agents when I have shouted, “DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!” virtually from the rooftops for twenty years?! What am I doing wrong?
And no, I will not accept the argument – true as it may be – that I have “not failed”, because hundreds of thousands of people have read my books and many do contact me and achieve a great result for themselves.
I know I should focus on those we do help – and yes, I spend hours each day helping consumers, often individually.
But while there are sellers who are getting stitched-up by dodgy agents, I still face the most uncomfortable truth in my working life: I fail so often. I fail to protect elderly folk who need every cent they can get. I fail to protect battlers who have worked their entire lives to own a home and who, in a few minutes, sign-up with the wrong agent and, in doing so, lose around fifty thousand dollars. Yes, that’s at least the amount the average home seller in Australia loses because they lack the right information. It’s so true that knowledge is not only power, it’s also money. To be properly informed in real estate means to be tens of thousands of dollars ahead.
How long does it take the average family to save fifty thousand dollars which is at least what most lose? Two years? More like five years. A five-minute decision to sign-up with an agent without being fully informed means losing five years savings! At least.
The number one reason that sellers and buyers do so badly in real estate is because they are not only uninformed, they are badly misinformed. The old joke: “How can you tell when real estate agents are lying to you? Answer: When their lips are moving,” is not a joke, it’s true.
Most information given to consumers in the real estate industry is false, dangerously false. False information is very expensive. I know of no other industry where consumers are getting such a bad deal as in real estate. Maybe because real estate goes up and a lot of people make a good profit, they don’t realise how much they are wasting? After all, it’s a well-known business axiom that “The greatest losses occur in times of the greatest profits”. We make so much money that we fail to see the leakage or, worse, how we are being financially used and abused.
Many years ago, when I attended a real estate training course sponsored by my franchise group, I was horrified at what “students” were taught. I said to myself, “We are not being taught sales methods, we are being taught fraud.” I remember walking up the street in the lunchbreak and thinking to myself: “If this is what real estate is all about, leave me out, I will find another profession.” And maybe that’s what I should have done.
Recently, a home-seller who had been trying in vain to find a good agent, said to me: “I don’t know how you put up with what you must see and hear.” Well, it’s true, there are many times where I get miserable at what goes on in real estate. I am proud, however, that I have never participated in their scams and that, to the best of my knowledge, I have never had a single complaint about me by an honest consumer in almost 50 years of being in real estate.
So, back to that question: Why don’t more people get themselves more informed before they sell or buy real estate? We all know that, year after year, real estate agents rank near-last in surveys about respected or trusted professions, so why do so many people still near-blindly sign-up with them?
Maybe I have got my three-word slogan wrong. Maybe I should add five more words so that it reads as follows: “DON’T SIGN ANYTHING before you contact Neil Jenman.”
And please, never think that I am too busy or too important to speak with you. Whether you have a small fibro home in Sydney’s Mount Druitt or a mega-mansion in Toorak, I will always reply to people who contact me. Sure, sometimes I may take a few days but, please remember this: When you speak with me, I will do my best to make you one of the most informed real estate consumers in the nation. With the information I give you, you can easily be tens of thousands of dollars better off.
It’s not just me who fails when consumers don’t contact me; after all, most of my work is done for free so consumers do not pay me. It’s consumers who fail when they don’t have the right information, when they speak with agents and businesspeople with dollar-signs instead of pupils in their eyes.
So, let’s come to an arrangement, shall we? Let’s stick together and both of us – you and me – will make sure you don’t lose in real estate; we will make sure you get the best deal you can.
And then I will feel like a success for one reason: I have made you a success in real estate.
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
I believe that every one of the 10,000 people who sell a property each week would be financially and emotionally much better with my help and support. Of course, there is a human limit to what one person can handle and, while I dearly love speaking with individuals, there are times, obviously, when I cannot humanly speak with everyone who wishes to speak with me.
But here’s what I can do: In addition to me, I now have the best team of people around me that I have ever had in my working life. They are caring, dedicated, decent and highly competent. Indeed, many times, sellers and buyers ask for individual team members instead of me.
So, my promise to all real estate consumers is this: Either myself or one of my wonderful team members will always be available to help you as soon as possible and to the best of their ability. Give us a try. You have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain.
And, while we never ask you for money or to sign any horrible “agreements”, we do consider our greatest payment to be gratitude from the many lovely people who thank us. You can’t beat sincere appreciation. Just ask any one of the millions of people who’ve had some exposure to us or our books and consumer education material over the last 20 or more years.
Thank you for your support and understanding. Neil Jenman.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted or ignored or well publicised – it depends on our mood.
But one thing will never vary: No matter how much we are abused or threatened we will never stop doing what we love most – helping honest consumers to get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’d love to help you too. But, remember, the consumers come first. Thank you.