by Neil Jenman
READING TIME: Apx 7 minutes
Tania was about to sign-up with an agent to sell her home. Then it happened: She spotted his car. A slick black two-door machine. With tinted windows and personalised plates, of course. Instinctively, the thought hit her: “I pay for that car.”
Laughing, she later told how she hired an agent with a Camry. All went well. She got a great price without wasting money on needless advertising expenses. Tania relied on her instincts.
Now, please understand, I am not saying you should choose an agent based on their car. I’m just saying how one happy seller chose an agent. Of course, there were other factors. But, as Tania said, seeing the agent’s car was her “light bulb moment”. It was the moment her inner voice said, “This is the not the right agent for you.”
In speaking with home sellers who are unhappy with their selling agent, most look backwards to the time before they hired the agent. Invariably, something bothered them, something the agent said or did that didn’t make sense or, worse, made them uncomfortable. For various reasons (most had probably never read Gavin de Becker’s great books about “listening to your instincts”) they still signed-up with an agent. The wrong agent. They ignored their instincts.
As we have warned constantly: When you sign-up with an agent to sell your home, you are stuck with that agent for the duration of the time stipulated in the agreement, usually 90 or 120 days. That’s a long time to do business with someone you don’t like.
There are several factors to consider when choosing the right agent, but few as important as how you feel, what your instincts tell you.
Think back: In many relationships, your instinct was right – especially failed relationships. The partner who had a ‘road rage’ moment on your first date or a colleague who made a smutty remark. Sometimes we are so eager to make a relationship work – personal or business – we ignore our instincts. We overlook the obvious. We make excuses for behaviour that bothers us. Don’t do this in real estate. Listen to your instincts no matter how many agents you interview. As the old saying goes, “Trust your gut.” After all, you are most likely selling your biggest asset. You need an agent who cares about you, not a coke-snorting sleaze worried about the payments on his ‘pretend-mobile’.
Here’s another well-known saying: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As a seller, you need an agent who genuinely cares about you, an agent who will get you the best price at the least cost and with no risk.
It’s a sad fact: few agents offer ‘best price, least cost and no risk’. But agents who do care about you will give you those benefits. The best agents will gladly do so. They won’t hesitate.
Don’t be frightened to ask for benefits. Try saying this: “There are three factors we want in an agent: First, the best price; second, no needless expenses such as forking out dollars on useless advertising costs and third, no risk; we don’t want to be out of pocket if our home doesn’t sell.”
When you make such a statement to agents, most go into “sell mode”. They will try to convince you to do something against your direct request. This is where you need your instincts. This is where you can ask great questions.
For instance, a common question to agents is: “Will you reduce your commission?” But the agents are ready for this question. They use all sorts of spin to convince you to pay more. But if all agents are the same, why pay more? Just choose the one with the lowest fee.
Instead of asking if they will lower their commission, ask this: “Have you ever lowered your commission?” All agents, at some stage, have lowered their commission. When they are close to making a sale, agents often cut commission. One of their common sayings is, “Something is better than nothing.”
Too many sellers make the mistake of sitting silently and listening to agents. They don’t ask enough questions. It’s questions – or how those questions are answered – that give you a feeling for an agent. Questions put your instincts on high alert. It’s why the TV show, Q&A is so popular. We like our feelings tested; our instincts challenged.
Let your instincts also be alert for little things about an agent. Little things lead to big things.
Many years ago, after her home sold, a lady told me, “One of the reasons we chose you was because of your shoes.” From that point, I polished my shoes daily.
Recently, I saw an agent’s proposal for a mansion in Toorak. The agent estimated it would sell “in excess of $15 million.” Inside the proposal were pages about the agent, the awards the office had won, the rave reviews from clients. But, on the front of the proposal, the agent made a little mistake. The owner’s surname was spelt wrong. Sure, it was only one letter. To this owner, however, it was a clue. “If the agent gets our name wrong, what else will they get wrong? No, this is not the agent for me.”
It’s true, your instincts tell you: If someone lets you down on little things, they will let you down on big things. If someone treats you badly before your relationship, they will likely be worse during your relationship. Oh sure, they were only ten minutes late and they apologised – “caught in traffic”. But late is late. An excuse is an excuse. If you don’t feel right, don’t hire said agent.
Unfortunately, in so many areas with so many agents, many sellers are saying it’s no longer a matter of finding an agent they like. It’s more a case of finding an agent they dislike the least.
Well, if this happens, when all is murky and you can’t decide, test your instincts. Which agent would you consider as a friend? None? Okay, which agent made you feel comfortable at times? Start by ruling out those agents you don’t want. Whoever is left, ask yourself which one made you feel the best. No matter how bad they are, some must have been better than others.
And finally, as suggested recently, sign up with an agent for a maximum of 30 days. There are only three ways to know anyone and one of those ways is to work with them. At the end of 30 days, if you have grown to like the agent, then you can sign-up for another 30 days. If you have grown to dislike the agent, it’s simple: You are not forced to work with an agent you don’t like. You are free to choose another agent.
Give your instincts the respect they deserve. Listen to them. Heed their advice. Far better to say, “I’m glad I did” than, “I wish I had.”
Trust your instincts. Not the agents.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site 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.