How to know if an agent deserves your trust.
by Neil Jenman
Reading time: 4 mins apx
Good and decent people often think everyone else is good and decent too. This is why they get hurt.
In real estate, “hurt” comes in two forms – financial and emotional.
The financial hurt comes from paying too much in needless costs. Dodgy agents will hit you up for extra fees for all sorts of needless add-ons.
The worst needless expense is “marketing costs”. Don’t fall for this scam. Australia is the only country where agents ask home sellers to pay advertising costs in addition to commission. In other countries, advertising is included in the commission.
Another financial hurt comes in under-selling your home. Just because an agent may be a “top selling agent” it does not mean they get top prices.
Oh sure, they seem smooth and successful. And yes, you may find yourself drawn in. But just remember Little Red Riding Hood. Charming agents are often wolves. They’ll eat up your finances as soon as you sign-up.
THOSE CHARMING AGENTS.
One of the most common statements made by home sellers who get caught by dodgy agents is: “But this agent is so nice.”
Or worse: “I really like this agent.”
Just like your friend who chose a dodgy partner. Everyone saw red flags – except your love-struck friend.
Remember the saying: “Evil is very seductive.” And that saying is applicable to hundreds of the dodgiest agents. They know how to seduce home sellers.
Thousands of home sellers regret signing-up with charming agents. The shame of being duped is often worse than the financial pain.
As one widow said last month: “I can’t sleep thinking how stupid I have been. My husband has only been gone a few weeks and now I’m trouble because I trusted this agent.” One with the laughably absurd slogan, “We put you first”.
Perhaps a few agents do put clients first. Most don’t.
So please, for your sake, remember there is only one way to know, for sure, if an agent is worthy of your trust. Focus on what they do. Not what they say.
So how do you know, for sure, what an agent will do?
There is only one sure way to test the trustworthiness of any agent.
Look at what they ask you to sign.
THE SELLING AGENCY AGREEMENT.
When your home is “listed” for sale, the agent will ask you to sign a “listing agreement”. Often, these agreements – which agents shrug off as “standard” – are deadly legal contracts.
So, here’s the challenge. Here’s how to tell if that agent you’re falling in love with (excuse the facetiousness) is worth a slice of your heart.
Do NOT sign that document. Get the agent to leave it with you for at least 24 hours.
Then read it carefully – with a magnifying glass (and that’s not being facetious). Some of the print is so tiny it’s hard for anyone over 45 to read without help. But that’s where the deadliest clauses are found. All the traps that a decent agent would never thrust upon you.
Here are some deadly conditions in “Listing Agreements” of many charming agents.
- YOUR RIGHTS STRIPPED. You lose all rights to sell your home to anyone without paying full commission.
- FULL COMMISSION AT LOWER PRICE. If your home sells for less than the price the agent quotes, you must pay the full commission.
- ADVERTISING COSTS. When you agree to advertise your home, you are promoting the agent. You are also setting up free leads for the agent. And then, wait for it: If your home does not sell, the agent can demand thousands of dollars in marketing fees. They profit from your loss.
- In many cases, agents get a bigger percentage for selling you advertising (or other so called “extras”) than they get for selling your home.
- LOCKED-IN REGARDLESS. If you are not happy with the agent, too bad, you are stuck. It’s easier to get out of a marriage than some listing contracts.
- RIGHT TO CAVEAT. The agent can place a caveat on your home. This means that your home can’t be sold until you pay the agent. Fair or unfair, it doesn’t matter.
- UPON DEMAND. Watch for those two words “on demand”. You’ll be horrified at what some agents can demand after you sign-up.
- DOUBLE COMMISSION. If you don’t like this agent and you go to another agent, you will have to pay two commissions – one to the agent who sells your home and one to that agent who didn’t sell your home.
- ENDLESS TIME. Many sellers don’t realise how long they have given the agent rights to their home. Dodgy agents can sign you up for four to six months if you’re not careful.
- CONTINUING AGENCY. This is a nasty clause. It means that, even when the agreement appears to expire, the agent still retains a legal hold over you.
- INTRODUCTION AGENCY. Many sellers don’t realise that any person who inspects their home while it’s listed with an agent “belong” to that agent. So, if hundreds of people come through your home and one of them buys it later with another agent, you may still have to pay the first agent. Again, that means two commission.
- You agree to indemnify the agent against absolutely everything that can go wrong. Even if it’s the agent’s fault, you are responsible.
- NO SALE STILL PAY. If a sale falls through there is a sneaky clause that forces the sellers to still pay the agent the full commission.
If you find that the agent expects you to be legally bound to unfair clauses, that’s a huge clue – this is an agent who can’t be trusted.
What most sellers don’t realise is that they can delete nasty clauses and add-in clauses that are friendly towards them.
At Jenman Support, we help you delete all nasty clauses. Plus, we insist that the agent you hire agrees to eight clauses that protect you. If the agent will not agree to treat you fairly, we suggest you use one of the best words to protect yourself: “NEXT”.
So, there you have it: No matter what the agent says, look at what the agent wants to do to you.
FOOTNOTE: If you use Jenman Support’s FREE service when you are selling, we make sure you are protected from harm. Plus, we fight hard to make sure you get the best result possible.