POCKET ‘LIE DETECTOR’ FOR AGENTS
by Neil Jenman
Reading time: Apx 4.5 minutes
Home sellers don’t come more vulnerable than Marion and Michael. This trusting retired couple are no match for the ruthless agents they’ve met in Sydney’s East.
According to them, they have been pressured to under-sell the home they loved, then bullied into buying an outlandish apartment they loathe and are now threatened with legal action after an agent failed to sell the unwanted apartment.
Marion is wrung-out. Each day she grieves the loss of her home.
In listening to Marion’s story over many hours, a major point is clear. Every person from whom they received advice, gave advice that was best for the person giving the advice, not what was best for Michael and Marion.
If what they tell me is correct Marion and Michael could be out of pocket by around $1.5 million dollars – just to undo the damage that’s been done.
Their story is not uncommon when it comes to advice. Agents, in their lust to list homes and make sales, seldom give home-owners time to think. Major decisions that change lives are made under a split-second of intense pressure. A technique from an old Real Estate Institute training manual is still used by many agents: “Move quickly, they are usually numb. Don’t give them time to dwell on the price.”
And yes, we all know the rest of the story – it’s not the agent’s fault, it’s the “market”. Consumers might be trusting and vulnerable, but they are not stupid. They are just inexperienced which makes them highly susceptible to manipulation. They don’t expect to be deceived so deliberately. When they discover what’s going on, it’s often too late – the hook is in and they are financially gutted. [Excuse the gruesome analogy, but it’s so appropriate.]
If only Marion and Michael had done one thing to protect themselves, they would probably not be in this situation. They should have recorded every word every agent ever said to them.
What is it with consumers with agents? Why are sellers reluctant to protect themselves? Why are they intimidated? Lack of knowledge? Well, here’s a solution to reduce or eradicate lies agents commonly tell sellers: ALWAYS RECORD EVERYTHING.
In this modern age, in a world of being recorded (for “quality control” purposes) on phone calls and filmed by CCTV, why don’t we use technology to protect ourselves? It sure beats the situation that follows when agents deny their past promises.
If conversations with all agents were recorded, there would be less unhappy sellers. Agents, knowing they are being recorded, will be careful with their promises. Later, if there is a dispute, the agents cannot deny their words ‘on tape’.
So, how do you do it? You must be determined to protect yourself. You are likely dealing with your biggest asset. Making a recording of someone – who you may have just met – who may be looking after your valuable asset is not only financially prudent, it’s essential. So, tell yourself, no matter what: We will record every conversation with every agent.
Remember, you must tell agents that you are recording them; if not, you could be committing an offence. All you need to say is: “To prevent any future misunderstandings, we will be recording everything said between us.”
Do not ask for permission, tell them. It’s your home, you are in charge and recording the claims of salespeople is something you are going to do. The good agents (and no, I have never said “all agents are bad”, just most of them) will not mind being recorded, they will welcome it.
Yes, you can be sure of one thing when you pull out your smart phone and hit record, the agents will be careful with promises. Lies will cease. It’s akin to having a lie detector in your pocket. But what if an agent refuses to be recorded? Simple, say: “Goodbye!”
Back to Marion. The selling agreement with her current agent has expired. Marion is sure the agent once said, “If you do not sell, there are no costs.” That was three months ago. Now, the agent is denying his promise. “You owe us $4,000 for advertising,” he told them last week.
Recently, one seller tried a method (that I don’t recommend, though it worked a treat!) with an agent. The frustrated and furious seller decided to fight the agent’s countless big lies with one little lie. The seller simply said, “I have recorded everything you ever said to us.” The agent went quiet. The seller then said, “I will arrange a transcription of all you told us, and I may be taking action against you for any and all promises you’ve broken.” The agent sheepishly replied, “Oh well, forget about it.” They never heard from him again.
There is no need to fight lies with lies. Just make an audio recording. Always. It’s simple, it’s easy and it can save you thousands of dollars plus needless frustration.
So, please, for your own sake, make an audio recording of every word every agent ever says to you. Tell them they are being recorded, open your phone, hit the red record button and shove the phone across the table.
Say to the agent: “Now, please tell us what you can do for us if we choose you as the agent to sell our home.”
You’re now in control. Gosh, it feels good, so good!
FOOTNOTE: Be sure to set your smart phone to ‘Flight mode’ before making a recording; if not, an incoming phone call or even a message could stop the recording process. And how do you record a telephone conversation? The best way is to use a second smart phone.
As always, if you need any help,
Please call all us on 1800 1800 18 or email email@example.com.
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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.