by Neil Jenman
Reading time: Apx 17 minutes
(But well WORTH IT if you’re selling your home!)
Aside from my wife, there is no person with whom I am closer than Paula, my little sister.
All my life, Paula has been my loyal supporter. With 18 months between us, we were inseparable as children. Even in different boarding schools, we kept in touch.
We had a tough childhood, but she took it harder than me. She is a sensitive soul. Today, if you ask her: “Did your parents once forget to collect you and Neil from boarding school in the holidays?”, she still bursts into tears.
Our parents were overseas. If you think boarding school is lonely, try it during school holidays. The police didn’t know what to do. Although our schools were only a few hundred metres apart (in Rockhampton), we had each other.
To give you an insight into my beautiful sister and the love I have been blessed to receive from her, I only need tell a brief story.
I was 19 and broke, as broke as it’s possible to be. No-money-broke, no-food-broke, no-home-broke. And broke 12,000 miles away in London. I slept four nights in a park. Anyone who’s suffered prolonged hunger, knows it’s a real pain. It was the worst time of my life.
Kind staff at a post office let me send a telegram free to Paula. She was at a teacher’s college in Brisbane. I wrote: “Stuck in London, starving and broke, please help. Anything will do.”
I’d have been happy with £50.
Within 24 hours, she wired me $887.78 – a fortune in those days. I sat on a bench in the Euston Post Office and cried. My little sister saved me.
But it was an odd sum of money. When I asked why, she replied: “Sorry, all I got.”
My little sister drained her bank account. She gave me her last cent.
Today, almost 50 years later, Paula is in hospital in Brisbane, seriously ill. She’s had three major operations in three weeks. Like many people, what frustrates me with illness is powerlessness. All I can do is hope and pray she is better soon – and we are hugging and laughing again. She should be okay.
When a loved-one is unwell, things that normally wouldn’t bother you can make you seriously upset. You see events in a crystal light when the fragility of life is apparent. You also get more protective towards loved ones. Especially if they are as beautiful as my sister, Paula.
You don’t want anyone to hurt them, not in any way.
Especially greedy real estate agents.
Let me explain – and although the story so far has concerned my sister, it is about to concern you – at least when you come to sell your home.
Paula needs to sell her former family home, where all five of her lovely daughters were raised.
What Paula is going through with the sale of her home is nothing different to what thousands of home-sellers go through each week. Although she has not lived in this home for a few years, there’s still an emotional attachment.
Most agents don’t seem to know this but selling a family home is one of the most stressful things we do in life. Add this to the reason we often sell – death, divorce, debt, illness – another high-stress event – and you see why we can be emotionally fragile when we sell a home.
Into this high-stress mix, come real estate agents, most of whom – and yes, I seriously mean “most” – want to rip us off.
They sure want to rip my sister off.
And yes, they also want to rip you off.
But, let me make a promise right now: No real estate agent is going to rip-off my sister.
If you want me to make you the same promise, I’ll do it for you.
And don’t worry about my time, my wife, my son, my daughter – all of us will do the same for you as I am doing for “Aunty Paula”.
While we don’t charge you anything, we do have a condition – we only like to help nice people. Which means most people. I like people with what I call the 3Ds – Decent, Dependable, Doers. They are good people; you can trust them, and they take positive action. I love such people. The greatest payment we get is appreciation. The sort of appreciation I received from Rohan this week. Rohan is a beautiful lady, quite like Paula. It’s taken more than a year, but we finally helped Rohan navigate the real estate jungle without getting ripped-off.
I hate seeing anyone ripped-off, especially decent home-owners who, like my sister and her husband, worked their entire lives to own their homes.
DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE RIPPED-OFF
If you want me to protect you, I want you to do one more thing – for yourself, of course. Be determined not to allow yourself to be ripped-off.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
The same applies with real estate agents: They cannot rip-you-off without your consent.
As those home-sellers who send us those ‘agreements’ that most agents ask you to sign, they are horrified to discover what they almost consented to. We send those agreements back with many clauses crossed out, several protection points added-in (in red ink) and with the following suggestion: “If the agent will not agree to this amended document, let us find another agent for you.”
Do not allow yourself to be ripped-off.
Be strong. Stand up for yourself.
I promise you – and I am saying this from 49 years of experience – the “modern” real estate industry is more unethical than ever. More sellers and buyers are ripped-off today than have ever been ripped-off.
And what’s worse is that most of them accept it.
Something else about the real estate world – it’s full of bluff and intimidation. As a rude, arrogant, conceited agent tried to be to my sister. Fortunately, this agent did not speak to my sister, but to our in-house agent-qualifier, Michael Kies.
Michael scours each area looking for the best agents to help our sellers. He tells them that we have EIGHT PROTECTION CONDITIONS which they must agree to follow before they can even meet the sellers who want our support.
Those eight conditions can be summed up in eight words: You will not rip-off or deceive our sellers.
Often, home-sellers ask us to call local agents. And often these agents are the worst of the worst. Yes, they are the ones with the fake smiles, the fake ‘profile’, and, of course, the greatest new scam in the “modern” real estate world, the fake reviews.
Paula asked us to call one such agent.
The agent said: “I already told you, I will not agree to those conditions.”
As Michael would later say: “This agent does not sound like the person in the photo.”
Paula replied: “Well, I trust my brother and I will do whatever he suggests I do.”
The first thing I want, as her brother, is an agent who will not rip her off.
Let me tell you what this agent wanted – and what most want these days in this plague of laziness in the real estate world.
They want money up front.
Yes, before they do a thing, they want your money.
Please believe it, if/when you are asked for advertising money, say no. That’s N-O.
And be careful of agents who say, “You can pay later.”
If they can’t get the money from you upfront, some want you to sign a contract to pay them later. Even if the home does not sell. Even if they lied and gave you a false high quote to entice you to sign-up with them and then, later, they expect you to sell well below their quote, but you rightly refuse, they can sue you. And wait for it, in many cases, they can even lodge a caveat on your home.
If you express outrage, they’ll smugly say, “Read the fine print.”
Yes, it’s all in the fine print.
But agents never say to you BEFORE you sign-up – “Please read this document carefully. Do not sign now. Give yourselves a few days to go through it, to discuss it with each other – or take it your trusted legal representative, even send it to Jenman Support for comment; but, most of all, THINK IT OVER. If there is anything you don’t like or anything you want to add, feel welcome to delete our nasty clauses and add some of your own (or Jenman’s) nice clauses.”
The Golden Rule when selling real estate applies to almost all ethical companies – NEVER PAY UNTIL YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
VPA – VENDOR PAID ADVERTISING
Asking for advertising money in advance of a sale is about as unethical as it gets.
Oh sure, dodgy agents make it sound reasonable – even making you feel guilty if you don’t pay it – but they don’t tell you many things you should know about this scam.
They call it VPA, which stands for Vendor Paid Advertising.
They do not tell you that Australia is the only country where the VPA scam flourishes. In the other 194 countries, home-sellers pay nothing until their homes are sold. Advertising costs are part of the commission. Or, in rare instances where specific advertising may have been necessary, the sellers only pay it if/when their homes are sold.
The greed of agents today is almost beyond belief.
Next thing they’ll be wanting sellers to pay for the lease payments on their Porsche.
But what am I saying? It’s already happening.
As far back as 20 years ago, a Melbourne agent boasted that advertising kickbacks paid for the lease payments on his Porsche.
They don’t tell you about the advertising kickbacks, do they? Oh, but they are buried in the fine print. They can be as much as 30 percent.
It’s not going to happen with my sister.
Just as it did not happen with Rohan and the sale of her former family home.
One dodgy agent expected her to pay $30,000 (yes THIRTY THOUSAND!) in “marketing costs” for her home. He may have pocketed $10,000 from that money.
He tried telling us it was “essential”.
Yea sure, essential for your lease payments maybe.
Essential to raise your “profile” (dodgy agents love that word – profile).
Essential to attract more sellers to your office, maybe – which means your sellers pay for you to find more sellers, as your coach teaches you (see him saying it on my Twitter account).
In the area where my sister’s home is located (a Central Queensland city), Michael Kies had a torrid time finding a decent agent. At one stage, he said, “They are all demanding advertising money up front.”
Michael gets frustrated with the stupidity of agents. Greed and laziness are understandable, but not stupidity.
Here is a modest family home that must be sold which means the agent will get a commission of around $20,000 (close to average these days); but if the agent cannot get at least $2,000 up-front, they don’t want the listing. That’s Stupid with a capital S.
Well, don’t give it to them. Find an honest agent. And a smart one.
If these agents would rather accept nothing than concede their advertising rip-off then give them nothing.
I have written extensively about advertising scams.
It’s unethical for sellers to be tricked into paying to promote the agent.
It’s unethical to ask sellers for advertising money when the agent already has a buyer for the home (or should have) on file.
Most agents are so lazy they don’t even call buyers when a new home has been listed. They give truth to the saying: Advertising is what you do when you are too lazy to call prospects.
Why would you want to fund an agent’s laziness?
Most of all, it is highly unethical to profit from the losses of your clients. This is exactly what happens to thousands of sellers in Australia every week.
But not to my sister. Nor anyone to whom Jenman Support is giving support. No way. You will not get ripped-off on our watch.
Australia, “best country in the world” – as we often like to describe ourselves?
Well, best country if you’re an agent wanting to rip-off sellers with the VPA scam.
I was delighted to see last week a real estate agent talking with the finance commentator called Martin North. The agent described VPA as a “rip-off”. Well done. You are not going to be popular with agents, but sellers will love you.
A rare agent, someone smart enough to ‘get’ the fact that the best way to have a successful real estate business is to be the best agent. And the best agents do what other agents in other countries do – include advertising costs in the commission or make sure it’s only payable when the home is sold.
Some agents display their complete lack of business acumen when they say, “Oh, but poor me, what happens if the home does not sell? Who will pay the advertising costs?”
Well, the answer is simple: You, the agent.
Because you are the one who benefits.
You benefit in three ways:
1) Your profile is increased.
2) The other listings you get (and sell) from advertising a home (Come on, admit it: What’s the first question you ask all buyers: Do you have a home to sell first? When they say yes, do you give the commission from the sale of that home to the sellers who paid for the ad? Or do you want it both ways? Sellers pay for the ads, but you get all benefits).
3) And the third way, of course, are those dreaded kickbacks (or “junkets” – no more trips to Thailand since COVID, boys. You must miss those temples). I told my sister about that too.
Do not cave-in and say, “All the agents in my area are insisting on advertising money being paid upfront. If not, they won’t list my home.”
If that happens, here’s what to do: Contact us on 1800 1800 18 and we will put Michael Kies on the job to find you a good agent – or persuade one, as he often does. Yes, we now have several agents who agree to “treat the Jenman sellers ethically”. Thank you very much.
As I said to one agent: “Simon, why don’t you offer all your sellers ethical service?”
Oh, that’s right, your franchise won’t allow it. They want $5,000 from all sellers up-front. To promote the franchise.
MOST AGENTS FACE EXTINCTION
Most of today’s agents are sowing the seeds of their own extinction. They are telling the public: “We can’t sell a house unless we put an ad on the Internet.”
Can’t you see where this is going, you chumps?
If advertising really does “sell” houses, why have an agent?
If the agent wants you to pay to put an ad on the internet, forget about the agent.
You can lodge an ad, surely?
You can sit at your front door for half an hour on the weekend, surely? Or maybe you might make it easier for buyers and let them see your home when it suits them.
Okay, here’s the part that makes some sellers nervous: How do you handle buyers who want to make you an offer?
Well, we will show you how to easily negotiate with any buyer.
We can also give you a booklet ‘The 42 Rules of Modern Real Estate Negotiation’.
If I have time – and if my son, Alec, lets me, I will speak with buyers for you. Or he can do it for you. Or any of our growing support team.
We love helping you, especially when you would have been ripped-off. We love hearing your excitement as you realise you have saved yourself twenty, thirty, forty, fifty (or much more) thousands of dollars in commission. And how you paid a couple of hundred dollars in advertising instead of thousands of dollars to promote the agent.
And, best of all, you have probably sold your home for more than the agents could have sold it. I am so proud to have helped a seller get a million dollars more than almost all agents were saying the home was worth.
Oh yes, it felt good.
We got a “foreign agent” to help me – an agent from outside the area who was not “price prejudiced”.
IT’S EASY TO SELL IN A BOOM
The market is booming in many areas now. Dodgy agents are making a fortune. Most are ripping-off sellers for thousands of dollars in needless advertising.
Don’t let them rip you off.
Unless you can find a decent agent with sense and integrity, have a go yourself. We’ll help you – at no charge (other than appreciation!).
Put the ad on the internet – even Facebook or Gumtree. And watch what happens. You’ll attract the same buyers as the agent (with the ad paid by you). And you’ll save yourself a stack of commission plus you’ll almost certainly get a better price.
The best person to sell your home is almost certainly an ethical agent who is also a skilled negotiator. But they are hard to find.
If you can’t find a good agent, don’t let a bad one rip-you-off. If you can’t get them to make an exception and give you good treatment, ditch them. All of them.
If agents in your area are too stupid or arrogant (the boom has made many think they are smart) to offer you risk-free selling which means you only pay when they sell your home, walk away.
The word ‘ruthless’ is not a word I like. But when it comes to protecting yourself against most of today’s agents, you must be ruthless.
If you don’t look out for you, who will?
At Jenman Support, we never ask you for money. We never ask you to sign anything. And we will always fight to protect you and your interests. Look at what Rohan said.
Michael Kies finally found an agent for my sister. He agreed to our 8 Protection Points. Plus, I am watching over her. You are not going to hurt this girl. No way.
If you wish, we’ll give you the same help, support, and protection when you sell.
My message to all decent home-sellers who are determined not to get ripped-off is this: We’d love to hear from you. Just email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 1800 1800 18.
FOOTNOTE: Please see the latest tweet on my Twitter Account for a short video clip of agents being trained to get more advertising dollars to get themselves more listings. When you see it, you’ll see more evidence that advertising is not about selling your home.
FOOTNOTE: A good explanation of the traps with the real estate advertising is Chapter 6 of the book, Don’t Sign Anything! If you’d like us to email you the full chapter (30 pages) please email us on email@example.com. Anything else you need, just ask. Thanks for your interest. Please take care. DO NOT LET YOURSELF GET RIPPED-OFF.
NOTE: We are often asked: “If an agent does a good job, what do you think is a fair commission to pay?” I will write about this important issue soon. If you have any thoughts, please let me know. Thank you.
Please note: We do not charge sellers for our support. Nor do we ever ask you to sign any agreements. Our entire focus is to protect your interests.
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.