Why You Can’t Trust Real Estate Agents When Selling A House

by Mike Holman

Check out the first part of this series “Why You Can’t Trust Real Estate Agents When Buying A House“.

Yesterday, we discussed how your agent and you will have similar goals when starting a house search but your interests will diverge the closer you get to a deal. When selling a house, the same phenomenon happens but usually a lot quicker.

In the beginning: buddies

Usually when you agree to list your house with an agent they will make you sign a contract with them which ensures that you don’t turn around and sell the house with another agent after they have done some work. In my experience, the agent will pull various comparable houses in the area and together you will figure out an asking price. Another step that normally takes place is for the agent to do a walk through and advise the client of possible improvements they can do to the house to make it sell easier.

The asking price is usually the first potential source of conflict – the seller wants a high price and is often unrealistic about what their house is worth. The agent knows that if the house is listed too high that it will sit for a while and any effort the agent makes to sell the house will be a waste of time. Agents make more money by selling more houses rather than getting a high price for each house so they want to make sure that the house is listed at a reasonable market value or lower. This is why pricing a house low for auction is so popular because it’s the best situation for the agent. Another situation is if a client wants to price the house high – then the agent has to bide their time and work on the client to lower their price so it will move.

Thinking about accepting an offer – Trust no one!

Things that your agent might say (and you should ignore) when you are selling a house:

  • “Since I get paid on commission – the more you get for your house, the more I get paid so we both want the same thing”. This is one of the biggest lies in real estate. Yes, mathematically an agent will get more commission if your house is sold for a higher price but the problem is the amount of time it might take to get that higher price is not worth the extra commission. For example if your house has a market value of $400,000 then your agent’s cut might be 2.5% or $10,000. If you are patient and wait for someone to come along who will pay $410,000 then the agent will make $10,250 for an extra $250. To get this $250 they might have to do several open houses and wait quite a while. Clearly they are better off just selling the house for $400k (or even less) and taking their $10,000. The problem is that the difference in selling price to the agent is pocket change but the difference to the homeowner is huge since we are talking about a $10k difference.

Negotiation – don’t listen to a word your agent has to say.

At this point you are potentially pretty close to selling your house. You want to sell the house at the highest price, the buyer wants to buy the house at the lowest price and your agent just wants you to sell the house and doesn’t care at all what price you sell it for because they just want the deal done right now. Since selling at a lower price will get the deal done quicker a lot of agents will encourage you to counter lower which basically means that you are negotiating against them as well as the seller.

Things that your agent might say (and you should ignore) when you are negotiating are:

  • “Don’t counter offer too high or the buyer might walk”. If the buyer has put in an offer then it’s up to the seller to accept the offer or reject it with a counter offer. It’s true that a high counter offer might scare off the buyer but isn’t that part of the negotiation?
  • “Your first offer is often the best offer”. Another way an agent might phrase this one is “We have an offer which means if I can get you to accept it by any means possible then I get paid very soon”.
  • “Dual-agency means there is no conflict of interest even though I represent both parties”. The “dual-agency” scam is where a selling party has a real estate agent and a buyer comes along who doesn’t have their own agent. The selling agent will offer to “act” as both the selling agent and buying agent and of course collect double the commission. Even though this is such an obvious scam, I actually don’t think this one is a big deal since real estate agents are basically working against you anyways at negotiation time so adding more conflicts probably doesn’t really matter.
  • “Are you willing to lose this deal for $2,000?” (or $5k, $8k) This is a tough one – on the one hand it seems silly to not close the deal and be only a half of a percent away from a deal but on the other hand shouldn’t your agent be asking this question to the buyer? Ie – “we are going to walk, do you really want to lose this deal for $2k?”
  • “Are you willing to lose this deal for $12 a month?” This is part two of the previous point which is applied if you don’t bite on the first attempt. It’s also a more useful gambit if the “separation” is a bit greater. If you and the buyer are $12,000 apart then that sounds pretty significant but what if you are only $75 a month apart (for 25 years) or even better what if you are only $63/month apart (over 40 years).

Conclusion (pretty much the same as yesterday)

The more you educate yourself about the real estate market you are looking in and how real estate agents operate then the better off you will be when selling a house. Real estate agents are quite useful when selling a house because most people won’t buy from a private seller and because they have access to MLS.

Whatever you do, never forget that they get paid when the deal gets done and only then. They don’t get paid for having extra open houses or walking away from close deals.

Do you have any good “lines” that you were told when selling a house?

Check out another perspective on real estate agents.

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lee

These two articles are SPOT ON accurate! I have been on both sides of the buyer and seller fence. I sold my last house all by myself using one of the DIY MLS services for a very small fee. This meant I only had to deal with shady, “carpet bagger” buyer’s agents. Dealing directly with these pushy, arrogant, know-it-all folks was exhausting and one of the worst experiences of my life. Still, I would have done it exactly the same way again.

It was a difficult journey, but I am convinced the process would have been much worse and more complicated had I used a listing agent. My research at the time included advice from my realtor mother and attorney father. The points made in these articles are much what I learned myself from personal experiences and research. I learned early on in the process that I would not allow ANYONE to bully me. You need to make a conscious decision about that, because you will start to doubt your own judgment at times.

The first offer came early summer 2013 and was about 35% lower than the asking price. The buyer’s agent said I was unrealistic to walk away and I simple said, “I don’t care about what’s good for your clients. I only care about what’s good for me and my family. This is our home and we expect market value. If the house sits on the market for years and looks like damaged goods to some people, so be it. I don’t care.” I always felt great playing hard ball. Not only was it exactly how I felt (ie, the truth), but it panned out to my advantage in the end.

I got the second offer in the middle of winter 2014 from a young couple who had seen the house back in summer. All at once, housing prices rising and inventory dwindling. We settled in March. It was the highest price a comparable house sold for in my neighborhood since 2008! Yes, you read that right. It took a seller who was not a realtor to yield the highest sales price in my neighborhood since the real estate bubble burst in 2008. So much for realtor “special skills and powers.”

Still, I look back and believe I could have gotten a bit more from that buyer. I agreed to pay settlement costs and regret that now. That was my one moment of weakness when I allowed the buyer’s agent to convince me that they’d walk over settlement costs. He had me right where he wanted me. I had some post inspection items to resolve and was, all at once, eager to sell and move on.

Nowadays with online MLS services, a home owner really can weather that storm without a listing agent. Having said that, you need to understand what you will face doing it yourself and be prepared to hire a real estate lawyer during negotiations if you aren’t sure about anything. You will still come out ahead financially but you do have to represent yourself as well as you can. From that point of view, agents will always have customers for the same reason that many people can’t be bothered cooking for themselves and choose to eat every meal out.

I was realistic about the market, did my homework, and got into quite a few arguments with realtors over the logic of my price. I called home appraisers who refuted realtor assertions about comp markets needing to be within various fractions of a mile! If you live in an area where the nearest comps are miles away, that’s where appraisers will go for comps. The lies and misinformation I heard from realtors during this process was astounding.

We also worked twice with realtors representing both buyer (us) and seller. These were foreclosure properties and in both cases we walked away after realizing one property had been owned by a meth user/maker and the other was a tear down (not worth expensive foundation repairs). Both of those agents (who assured us they were representing us) completely withheld information from us that we needed to know. Yes, it IS a conflict of interest but the author of this article is correct in stating that you can’t trust realtors either way. You need to be smarter than they are, at least where your own interests are concerned. If you hear things running around in the walls, you’ve got a rat or squirrel problem. If you see graffiti on the walls and evidence of animals not being let out to relieve themselves, you’ve more than likely had meth heads living there. Cracks in the foundation you can often see yourself before booking an expensive home inspection. Do your homework and trust your instincts/gut feelings. At the same time, a house can look spotless and have dangerous toxins in and behind the walls, mold in crawlspaces, etc. Looks can also be deceiving! Talk to neighbors, look up local crime and meth lab reports if you have any suspicions.

My wife and I are ready to buy again. After all we’ve been through and learned over the years, we are trying to avoid realtors as much as possible. When I bought my last house, I was later angry that our agent didn’t show us a neighborhood that we would have much preferred. We were new to the area, living hours away at the time, and depended on him to educate us. Lesson learned: educate yourself as much as possible before starting that process.

Yes, a buyer’s agent will try to get you to settle on/make an offer on the first property you like a lot. Never mind that there are other properties you haven’t seen elsewhere that you’d prefer. For instance, if you are moving to a city and want to be outside city limits for whatever reason (lower cost, more space, better schools, fresher air, etc), make sure you understand the pros and cons of living north, south, east and west of that city. For instance, if your work situation changes, where will you likely commute to?

I also don’t like that lenders and realtors often work together. I contacted a lender recently through an agent I met at an open house. This lender automatically assumes we are working with that agent (some sort of kickback there) and sending me documents naming that agent as our agent.
We were never asked who our agent is!

2 Mumi

I just laugh at how the realtors people react to your articles. they are hurting very much for their sins

3 investor

This article is absolutely correct. I have interacted with over a thousand realtors as a buyer and seller and it is the same story. In reality, with the new apps out there, the only thing you need a realtor for is a security blanket and also to get referrals to settlement attorneys and title agents if you don’t trust your own judgement to find one on your own.
Realtors are somewhat of a liability since they are motivated by getting a commission in the shortest possible time frame, generally are negotiating with that objective as the primary motivation, sometimes do not research the comps based on actual sales and so have very little idea what a buyer might actually pay. The ego of some of the more prominent realtors who are interested in selling volumes of homes to keep their ranking will pressure you to list at a very low price, pretending that the low list price will inspire a bidding war (yeah right). A realtor needs only sit through a 60 hour on line course and take a course exam and a state/national exam both of which take less than 2 hours each. Ask yourself if this qualifies them to take a 6 percent commission (however you want to split it between the parties). 6 percent for what exactly? Walking you around the house to conduct a lesson in the names of rooms?
The industry is filled with salespeople who are hired by brokers, who hang their shingle in the office, and then never talk to them or supervise them again until the sale, and then only to manage the escrow and collect their portion of the percentage. If you doubt this just go to any realty site and scroll through the agents and see just how many listings each agent has, you will find that there are a handful of agents who dominate the number of listings the broker has and the others may have a few listings, if any.
The industry provides advertising on the MLS and the internet which a buyer can do on their own for less than $500, takes pictures of the property for $300, and hangs a shingle on the property, may sit in the house conducting open houses a few times….might advertise your property with flyers and a brochure less than $500….and since a realtors license only costs about $200 for the course, $60 for the test, $60 for fingerprinting, and $20 for registration, and $60 for the proctor for the exam the total outlay is insignificant compared to 3% of a properties total value.
It has been my experience that this article is absolutely accurate in describing the extent of the rational and logic and negotiating skills realtors possess. Anyone who has other viewpoints is good hearted, but naïve.

4 investor

This article is absolutely correct. I have interacted with over a thousand realtors as a buyer and seller and it is the same story. In reality, with the new apps out there, the only thing you need a realtor for is a security blanket and also to get referrals to settlement attorneys and title agents if you don’t trust your own judgement to find one on your own.
Realtors are somewhat of a liability since they are motivated by getting a commission in the shortest possible time frame, generally are negotiating with that objective as the primary motivation, sometimes do not research the comps based on actual sales and so have very little idea what a buyer might actually pay. The ego of some of the more prominent realtors who are interested in selling volumes of homes to keep their ranking will pressure you to list at a very low price, pretending that the low list price will inspire a bidding war (yeah right). A realtor needs only sit through a 60 hour on line course and take a course exam and a state/national exam both of which take less than 2 hours each. Ask yourself if this qualifies them to take a 6 percent commission (however you want to split it between the parties). 6 percent for what exactly? Walking you around the house to conduct a lesson in the names of rooms?
The industry is filled with salespeople who are hired by brokers, who hang their shingle in the office, and then never talk to them or supervise them again until the sale, and then only to manage the escrow and collect their portion of the percentage. If you doubt this just go to any realty site and scroll through the agents and see just how many listings each agent has, you will find that there are a handful of agents who dominate the number of listings the broker has and the others may have a few listings, if any.
The industry provides advertising on the MLS and the internet which a buyer can do on their own for less than $500, takes pictures of the property for $300, and hangs a shingle on the property, may sit in the house conducting open houses a few times….might advertise your property with flyers and a brochure less than $500….and since a realtors license only costs about $200 for the course, $60 for the test, $60 for fingerprinting, and $20 for registration, and $60 for the proctor for the exam the total outlay is insignificant compared to 3% of a properties total value.
It has been my experience that this article is absolutely accurate in describing the extent of the rational and logic and negotiating skills realtors possess. The realtors who believe that they are putting in a lot of effort are correct…..they are putting in more effort on the sale of the home than they have put in on anything they have ever done, from their perspective they are working hard; at that is the tell. If you think you are working hard hanging a shingle, showing a few homes, writing a brochure, coordinating with a photographer and taking a 60 hour course you probably would consider earning a four year college degree, or working 60 hours a week on a construction job site to pay for that college degree as unfathomable. Most realtors come to the business because they had other careers that they decided were not as easy as being a realtor and the initial outlay required to become a realtor is low comparatively. There is a trend toward fixed fee real estate services for this reason.
The most important skill a realtor brings to the table should be negotiation and sales skills and willingness to work hard.
Realtors will expound at length about their opinions on what a house will sell for, as if it were the Almighty himself laying down the law, and some of them will try to intimidate you into listing it at their price by refusing to take the listing at your price. You are much better off without that kind of representation. If a realtor is not willing to try to get the best price even if it means letting the house sit on the MLS a bit longer, do not walk away from that realtor- run. Arguments which originate in real estate schools will indoctrinate you on the economics, claiming that a house sale price is what a buyer and a seller can agree on.
If you are not under undue financial need to sell, the house sells at what the owner sets the price at or it doesn’t sell. It is as simple as that. It is your home and you decide what you will sell it for, not the realtor. Your home is your lifes investment, the biggest investment you may ever make. Any realtor who does not understand this concept will perform exactly as this article predicts.
In fact, you will find after dozens of real estate deals that you are hearing the same speech over and over and over. Real estate is not that complicated. Get a good settlement attorney, title search company, photographer, sign company, and sell it yourself. You will be happier since you will not have to spent countless hours in the same conversation over and over. Realtors are putting themselves out of business and the phone apps are taking their jobs. Hopefully.

5 Brian Brock

You are obviously a big idiot. I am a REALTOR and work very hard at what I do. I take offense to the way you group all agents as if they were scum. I must tell you that 95% of my business comes from previous clients and referrals. I work 7 days out of the week, many weeks of the year. I’m not complaining, I love what I do and chose this as my career. The majority of current agents have many years of continuing education, as this is required, to include degrees. You seem to have all the answers. I bet you are one of the ones that thinks yours is gold and everything else is silver. You probably couldn’t pass the courses required to get a license. What you fail to mention is that hardly any sellers have a clue what their home is worth! That is why they call a professional that does this everyday to determine a value. We are taught the tools to determine value but know it all people like you think its a big game and you should always ask for more. Why don’t you shadow a busy REALTOR for 1 complete transaction and see what it’s like. People like you have watched too many episodes of Desperate Housewives and think all we do is sit around sipping cocktails and waiting on the phone to ring so that we can show 1 home and collect a check. The reality is that finding a home and putting it under contract are the easy steps. The real job begins when the home goes under contract. First, we have to wait on the buyer to complete a home inspection and discovers all the stuff you ignored over the years and don’t want to repair but you still want full price. The irony is that you want everything repaired on the home you’re moving to and want it for less. Second, we have to get through the appraisal process. This is where any informed and educated agent has previously searched the comps and most likely knows approx. what the value will come in at. This is why your agent may be advising you that you had a good offer. Third, we have to spend countless hours on the phone with the attorneys and the lenders, which you are never bothered with, trying to keep the process moving along as smoothly as possible. My point is that any professional agent will tell you that we must wear hats to get your home to the closing table and we do all of this absolutely free unless your house sells.

6 Randy

What a crock of crap this article is! Yea go ahead and list your house for higher than market value and you better hope that when a buyer does come along (who knows when), that they have enough cash to cover the difference between the appraisal amount and the amount they are over paying for the house. You think a buyer’s agent is going to say, yea lets go for a house that overpriced when their buyer is only qualified for an FHA VA, or 5% down conventional? Even if the buyer wanted to go for it and it doesn’t appraise out to agreed contract price, then you’ve wasted money on an inspection (~$375) appraisal (~$300-$400) and possibly a mold or radon inspection ($250-$350). So basically your buyer has flushed almost a grand down the drain on a house they cant get financing on, plus they’ve wasted their time and the sellers time by being under contract and eliminating the chance other buyers may have put an offer on. But yea, go ahead and listen to this fool who wrote the article. But hey, maybe a cash buyer will come along and drop 300k on your overpriced house….

7 Cathy

THE BEST ARTICLE I HAVE READ ON THE SUBJECT! I actually got a call tonight on my fsbo from a realtor (one of 1000) who wants to sign my house, but says they just want to preview it. She then asked me if I have had people come through who were looking for something else, did I have their names and could I give them to her, and from here on could I do that for her. WHAT???? Unbelievable!!!! Realtors are sneaky, out for their jobs (money, not clients), cliquey and despicable.

8 Tim

This article is probably one of the most ingorant I have ever seen. The writer is definitely uneducated, misled and angry about who knows what!!!
If one is a realtor and has actually done the occupation, they would know what is involved. Many deals can be similar so same but always different and there are always complications that have to be dealt with. Downright Ignorant period! I bring the sellers the most money always! PRoven time and time again. And on the buy always get them the best price. Try showing your own home when you are work pal. Yah….that explains it all. Full commission brings full service.
Discount Realtors bring discount offers….. END of story!

9 Minskore

I love your articles, and you are 100% correct in everything you say about real estate agents and yes they are all tarred with the same brush, because they all get the same training, and the points you’ve made above are things they are “taught” to say and do.
Thank you for the info you’ve provide and for making it easier for people like me to understand ways of better protecting myself.

Mindy

10 Cheated

I wish I have read this article before listing our house with the agent.
15 years ago, she help us bought the house. We had a good experience. 15 years later, when we went with her for selling the house.
BIG MISTAKE. Either a person has changed in 15 years or the person we knoew was fake.

Anyway, she kept us in the drak for months and months. She picked up our calls or returned our emails (in the course of a year, we may have called her total 5 times). She even did not pick up/return our first phone call. We knew she did intentionally. Because I called her twice (after never got a call back.) from a different #s and she picked up twice.

At the end, when we started to pushing for some info and status updates, she all in a sudden became so nasty and called us “hostile”. Because we left voice mails and sent email inquiries.

There are two things we did wrong:
1> We should not have just hired her based past experience. We should have interviewed more and then decide.
2> We should have fired her earlier (we keep finding excuses for her. Because we cannot thing any reason why she would mis-treated us. Since we have agreed with every suggestions she made.)

If anybody is reading this post, please take this away from it: DO NOT just take a agent because you think you know her/him.

Now we are scared to contact her (anyway she would not answer). We will just wait for the time to run out.

11 jan farris

realtors are basically pirates, and their profession should be illegal. I have bought and sold 4 houses in different areas of the country, using a realtor in each transaction.
when I bought my first house, my realtor (who was also a real estate lawyer), bascially threatened me into buying a house for which he also was the listing agent. I was too young and naive to know any better. he had shown me quite a few houses over several months time (I had moved to the area from another part of the country, and the housing options were completely different from anything I had ever seen before). when he showed me this particular listing, he said if I didn’t buy it, he was going to charge me for all the time he had spent showing me houses; he was going to charge me his hourly lawyer’s fee for time spent showing me houses as my realtor. I didn’t have the cash to pay legal fees at his discretion, so I bought the house for the price his client had set. when I sold that house, I had to pay for a central air/heat system with ductwork to be installed because the house was not up to “code”. apparently, the codes had changed in the 3 years I lived there.

the next house I bought was one sold “by owner”, and there were NO problems involved in that transaction AT ALL. however, when I sold it, my listing agent decided that my house was perfect for one of her friend’s sons, so she promised my house to him. problem was, she promised it to him for a price that was $40,000 below what I listed the house for. she kept all other realtors from showing my house; I would see people drive by and stop to get the info from the sign in the yard, and never have ANY showings of the house. one day, I was working in the yard, and an out-of-town realtor stopped and talked to me about seeing my house, but when she called my agent, she had told her it wasn’t available. turns out, that was how my listing agent was going to try to force me to sell my house to her friend at the price she had promised him. I called the owner of her real estate office, and explained the situtation to him, tellling him I was going to sue them for this breach of contract. the house sold for $160,000 in 3 days.

I have 3 more horror stories if anyone is interested.

12 Daniel

Though I can appreciate a logical/rational decision on any side of any fence, your article is extremely misleading and arguably unethical in intent. Either that, or you are completely ignorant about the topic at hand. I have battled with many of the same ‘issues’ you presented, and tried to cut away at the commissions of my agents in every property (investment and personal) I’ve purchased thus far. I’ve literally negotiated splits with my buyer agents, not really understanding how ridiculously greedy and selfish my actions were.

After buying three homes to live in, and a handful of investments, I decided that an agent’s job isn’t so hard, and that I could probably make some spare change doing it (their job) on the side. I am no longer an agent (for now), and literally only worked as one for a few months, but based on my experience(s), as a buyer/seller/and agent, here are the truths relative to your ‘topics’ of discussion:

1) “Don’t counter offer too high or the buyer might walk”

I have actually walked away from numerous purchases, as a buyer, because the counter offer (from the seller) was simply too high. My agent did ask whether or not a few thousand dollars was worth losing the home, and at the time my answer was always yes. In retrospect, this is ignorant thinking, and when I look at my mortgage statements, on multiple properties, a few thousand dollars of principal has far less effect on the monthly payment than does taxes, interest rates, pmi, and insurance. I regret my decision(s) to walk away over a few thousand dollars on more properties than not.

2) ““Your first offer is often the best offer”

You’re absolutely right…. If an agent tells you this, he/she is an idiot. However, I find it hard to believe than any agent with common sense and business acumen would tell their client something akin to this…

3) “Dual-agency means there is no conflict of interest even though I represent both parties”

Though technically you could be correct, you can also be completely wrong. Dual agency isn’t necessarily defined as superficially simple, and outrageous, as you make it seem. Dual agency can also be, and is more often representative of, a situation like this: A broker (let’s say Century 21) can have numerous agents working under his umbrella (let’s say 50). So many, that sometimes these agents don’t even know each others first names, do not work together (ever) in the same office, and for all intents and purposes, don’t even know each other exist. Because there are far more sales agents than the brokers they work for, the probability of a ‘transaction’ hosting two agents from the same office is not uncommon. ‘John Doe’ could be representing the buyer in the same transaction that ‘Jane Smith’ represents the seller. Even if these agents don’t know each other, their licenses could be held by the same broker. If their licenses are held by the same broker, because the broker is the ultimate authority in facilitating the transaction (through the agents that work with him), we are faced with a dual agency scenario. John Doe and Jane Smith could literally, more often than not, work with the same broker, yet not the agent that’s on the other side of the table in a dual agency situation. I guess my overall point is that ‘dual agency’ most often involves a situation much different than the picture you paint. The best analogy I can think of is 1099 sub-contractors working in the same house, but doing different vocational work. A plumber, a carpenter, and a painter, for example, could all be ’employed’ by a General Contractor, but their ‘duties’ are independent of each other, and their ethics are not compromised by each other in any way. Real estate agents are 1099 sub-contractors…they literally operate their own business, even though they technically work for/with a broker. Thus, it is very possible (and more common than your scenario) to have two agents under the same broker, that could care less about the opinion, compensation, or result of a transaction – relative to the opposite party (buyer/seller) – than their own clients needs.

3) “Are you willing to lose this deal for $2,000?”

Please see point one. Again, I have literally been on the buyer side of this question, and walked… And I can tell you without any doubt in my mind, that ‘walking’, over a number for such fickle reasons (though I based the decisions on “principle”), is uneducated and ignorant.

Final point: I eluded to my negotiating of a ‘split’ with my buyer agent in the past. I figured he was going to make some huge commission, and that commission was unjustified and over-valued. Even when you take the reality of a typical 6% commission being split equally between listing and buying agents (3% and 3%) it just seemed too high. Even when you further reduce that number (after it splits again with each of their respective brokers), they are still left with a respectable chunk of commission. For example: On a $200,000 home, the 6% is divided in half. Thus, my buyer’s broker and buyer’s agent split 3% (or $6,000), reducing my agents commission even further. Let’s say they split it equally (50%/50%), which is not uncommon, and my agent earns $3,000 on the deal. His overall commission was not 6%, like so many of us think…it wasn’t even 3%….it was, in fact, 1.5% of the transaction. Still, a respectable check for ONE transaction, correct? Yea…I was ignorant too… After you factor in Board membership dues, Broker dues, MLS access, NAR dues, fuel, wear and tear on their vehicle, computer costs, internet costs, and probably most damaging to their pocket book – advertising/marketing costs- what do we think they’re left with???? I’m not sure what the average agent is spending, but personally I spent at least $2,000 per month on marketing and mandatory affiliations/subscriptions alone. You do the math…

Being a real estate agent looks cute and simple when we’re on the couch watching TV, but in reality it’s a full time job (if they’re to be successful), and they are running a full time business that comes with real business costs. I personally got out of it, because there was not enough money in it for the time investment necessary. I may someday re-claim my license for investment purposes, but for now – I could work as a manager at Walmart and make a heftier salary…

To the OP: You should be careful in writing ignorant posts like this. Though you can rally troops in your favor that share in your ignorance, eventually the truth will come out, and the figurative foot will end up in your mouth. Again, I can respect any logical/rational opinion, but your writing is so misleading and uneducated, you should be ashamed of yourself for putting such nonsense on your blog.

13 Alicia Spears

It’s a tough profession. Why would anyone want to do it? Oh, that’s right because it’s easy money…. think again! I’m a residential real estate Broker and I do it because I love houses and the idea of homeownership and I like helping people. I work weekends, I’ve worked on holidays, I work in the evenings. Why should I feel ashamed about wanting to get paid? It’s the one profession where the paycheck is public knowledge. I work because I want to make a living and provide for my family. But I don’t use that as motivation for listing your property high or low. My goal is to list it at market value so that it sells timely. (within 3mos) Pricing a house is about finding equilibrium- I find that usually happens within 3mos. Real estate agents don’t create the market. It’s not rocket science but we do add value to the transaction. Keep in mind, if the house doesn’t close we don’t get paid. If the buyer brings ditches me and uses their real estate friend or relative to “save” the commission, I don’t get paid. We do the work upfront and try to minimize risk… we want the house to sell. Could you imagine working diligently and honestly for your boss and in the end not getting paid? We are NOT the decision makers the client has the ultimate control. However, there is value in hiring a professional. I’m sorry that so many people have had bad experiences. There are good agents out there.

14 Bay Area Goddess

Love this article and LOVED the comments. I’m looking to buy my first home in the Bay Area and have gone through 4 agents in my first 2 months of searching. Never bought a house before, but now I feel exactly as Kyle’s parents feel – real estate agents are just a small step above used car salesmen. In fact, here in CA they go through Salesmanship class as part of their training, so maybe they are all from the same alma mater!

I’m glad to find forums/blogs like this one to see what other people’s experiences have been and to learn what to watch out for. Sounds like there’s plenty to deal with whether you are buying or selling!

15 Tami Johnson

I feel badly that you all seem to have had bad experiences with your agents. And it is not your agents fault that you didn’t read your contract. Offering 5% in Scottsdale isn’t going to get an cooperating agent to show your home anyway. First, as listing agents, we have to pay the other agent. You think we should work for 2.5%. Not happening at least not with me. 6% is my fee. 3% I pay to the other agent. I value my time, my market area knowledge and my experience. If your house is priced appropriately and you have a good agent, they will be spending money on marketing, advertising and a lot of time and effort. You seem to be there pro – good luck in negotiations. You all need to NOT listen to this yahoo and get an agent. Otherwise your leaving money on the table. We don’t want our listings on the market accumulating days either. If you were my client (which you would’t be), I’d fire you. Go get your license and see how easy it is. HAHAHA…..

16 Gina Grimsley

I am so sorry you have been abused by Realtors. You must be very unfortunate to have chosen poor agents for all the transactions that you have been involved with.
As with anything, I always get a few opinions re: doctors and their beliefs and practices, contractors and their reputation and ethics or Attorneys and their professionalism and work. I advise the same with Realtors. We are Professionals in the area of buying and or selling Real Estate. For most of us, it is our livelyhood and as a mechanic or technician or dentist, we charge for our expertise. As in any profession, their will always be those driven by money and those that aren’t looking out for their clients needs. so consumers must be responsible to choose people wisely. I am not sure if your expertise in Real Estate is? If you are not a Licenced and practicing Realtor, I’d advise you to obtain your license and practice for awhile before handing out advice about something you obviously don’t know a lot about. Licensed Realtor in IA,NE and SD SINCE 1992.

17 Gina Grimsley

Also after reading this stream of comments, we also need to remember that what works in my area geographically of expertise is not the same as what is the GOLD STANDARD in another area.

18 Gina Grimsley

Another note: I see all list “commission” like this is an “extra” or it is “wrong to want to receive”. Realtors are self employed. They pay for all expenses they incur. There is no salary. So the commission is our only payment. I am not sure if you begrudge other professionals that provide service for you Of their salary, their bonuses or benefits. We have none of those. I won’t feel guilty to earn my commission/salary. As people have said before, there are great competent and ethical Realtors. Do some research and find a good one.

19 Maryann

My husband and I have interviewed 3 real estate agents in hopes of listing our home for sale. They all use the same ” comp ” formula to determine the market value of our home…even though they tell us there are no actual comparables for our house. Two of the three agents used poor grammar while speaking and also in emails to us…one even wrote us an email and had our house # incorrect…along with very poor grammar. I also found two of them to be quite gossipy about specific sales/ sellers in our small town here that made me very uncomfortable…after all if we hired one of them what would they be saying behind our backs? And the last straw was one of them actually brought a friend of hers that was paying her a flat fee to assist in possibly buying a house as a quick private sale…she spent more time in my husbands home office with him trying to convince him that we should list the house with her…wouldn’t that be considered a conflict of interest? I have come to the conclusion that they are all pretty much like used car salesman…yes a 2 door coupe with a sunroof will likely sell for more than a 4 door sedan but we have a beautiful home and 35 years of non stop compliments that should amount to a little more than the generic 3 bedroom 1.5 bathroom

20 Cindy

Wow! You would be an awesome client for me. I will let you nail your coffin as long as you don’t hold me responsible for your decisions you make. Do you think maybe its possible that a real estate agent in the business for several years might know something about negotiation? Nah, you’re probably right. You’ve probably sold many more homes than the average agent? Why would you even hire a real estate agent?

21 Sally

Just had my realtor tell me he wanted to discontinue his listing with me. I told him I wanted to lower the price and was shocked he didn’t want to lower it. I spoke with another agent and told her of the situation and she said that it is such a hot market that an agent doesn’t want his/her name associated with a listing that has to lower their price. WOW! Has anyone heard this one before? Granted, it was a low commission listing but I was trying to make it easy. Also, why take a low commission in the first place?
The other realtor suggested that since he kept pushing his “photographer” on me that he might be getting a kickback for the affiliate sale.

22 Grace

Reading through the article and comments helped me to see – We are not alone. Thank you Everyone!

Selling our home has been a nightmare… My spouse and I laugh when we see the television commerical, “Ya right a Real Estate Agent” screwed up closing dates”….THEY SURE DID – AND THEN SOME.

Long story short, after months of stories, recinded verbal ammendment requests, lies and professionals that essentially broke everything code of ethic practice standard within Real Estate, my spouse and I ended up owning two homes on date of closing. Why?

Well our Buyers misrepresented their ability to secure financing; signing off on conditions/Notice of Fullfillment only in the end to have failed to have the ability to fullfill finanical and closing obligations on date of closing. Long and short purposeful misrepresentation on part of Buyers and Buyers Agent. (Proven history of the two parties scrambling to make arrangements and seek out various funding sources)

Long nightmarish story later…once our Lawyer became involved we finally were informed only to find out our Agent representing us also know of the pending situation…..

So as the unbelievable continues to unfold our house is now back on the market with a Agent we cannot stand and are locked into a contract with….and our lives are a legal ongoing battle for resolve to this experience that has now made me never to want to sell again.

There is only but 1 guarentee in all of this and that is is my spouse and I will experience a dwindled/non exsistant savings account by the time the lawyer is finished, just where I saw us in middle life :( .

For what is considered a “Professional” with a governing Association – I have never in my life experienced such unprofessionalism, decite, or drama over what I thought should be a straight forward real estate transaction. In fact I have expereinced more ethical practice purchasing a used car than what as occured trying to sell our home….how scary is that?

23 Mariam

Interviewing realtor and found they seriously want to list my house for much less than I know we can get. We are on a unique property, 20 yr old house mostly updated and in excellent cindition, with acreage in city limits. We have many interesting features including a very large pool, lots of mature trees, dual HVAC, dial water heaters including instant hot water heater , as well as the usual amenities. There are no comps. We feel that due to the uniqueness, someone will either pay what we believe is FMV, or close to it, or we aren’t interested in selling. I’m angry that the agents want to low ball so badly just to make a quick sale. We aren’t desperate to move and if they aren’t going to sell and market the great points of our home, then we are better off not selling or doing a FSBO.

24 Dave Adrey

Real Estate agents are scum bags. The industry attracts con artists. Their only interests are their own. Screw them. It is digusting that they get paid more than lawyers.

25 Nick

The most unfortunate aspect of this article is that a percentage (hopefully small) of readers will believe it is true. It is rife with fallacious arguments and sadly lacking on any research or fact based argument. Grammar and usage errors are just icing on the cake.

This is the “money smart blog”… If the article is indicative of the critical thinking ability of the author, I’d look elsewhere for financial advice or “money smarts”.

26 CAN'T CHANGE IT NOW

OK,
Just about every thing in this article was told to me by the agents, a married couple, who sold my Aunt’s home. (I am the Personal Rep for her Estate)
From the beginning I thought they were very nice and still do, it was just so disappointing to find that they had not disclosed that the first person who looked at our house, love it and wanted it for his family , a “young agent” who was making an offer, would also get Half the commission!
In my view he came as a buyer not an agent. (or so I thought)
I notice that the commission was 5% instead of the negotiated 4% (that was agreed if they agents I hire sold it themselves). I showed them what I thought was a mistake and they soy “OH NOOOO, he’s an agent representing himself.
REALLY?, Yes really. what a scam, or at least I felt that way. Here in the states it’s legal and it happens all the time.
looking back at the papers I see that his realty Co. name.it on a line below his name. It is my fault for thinking he just added where he worked and not that he gets a commission. He did nothing, nothing!
The agents were recommended by My aunts lawyer and I think if I had to do it again I would have not gone this route.( the principle of it or the lack there of got me) MY very nice and well known, and expensive lawyer also said it’s very common and not shady. I disagree there, in my view it should be disclosed prior to shoving papers in our face with tons of legal lingo to figure out.
Had I known I would sure as heck have not let it happen. he get’s $11,000 dollars! it actually is only 1% more for my family to lose but it bothered me very much that they just didn’t mention it. I felt it was not disclosed and then made to feel as if Everyone knows that can happen.
by the way the agents wanted us to sell it for about $357,000 to $379,000.
when I said “what is the highest end price border-lining ridiculous?” they told me “$417,000 to $425.000”. after thinking about it overnight I told them we wanted $444,900.
The first people (the agent)to look at it bought it after and offer of $224,00. I made NO counter and a day later they came back with a full price offer.
IT KIND OF TELLS YOU EITHER PRICED IT TOO LOW OR THAT YOU PRICED IT JUST RIGHT.
I knew the neighborhood and the neighbors, and the million + home built right behind this home but not everyone does. it’s to their advantage to sell low and get paid fast. They aren’t dishonest just trying to make a living
but then again so are we.
Please take a page form this book and at least keep your eyes open to who get’s commission and for what. They told me also the first offer is the best offer, it was the second one that was the best, as I didn’t take their first offer. … at least I did some things right. ; )

27 joaquin andrew

I just listed my home. the broker determined that my home should be listed for 230,000. I volunteered to list it for 280,000 .
At the end of the listing process she explained the dual agency . I did not care for it but agreed ,because chances are great that I would get a conventional offer-. On the chance that I get a dual agency offer AE: my listing agent brings me an offer , I wont let her present the offer in person, as that presentation would Segway into a give and take of ideas and suggestions from the dual agency broker.
I will represent myself ,the offer will be mailed to me.

Since I listed the home for less than the broker suggested , and because its a dual agency I will refuse offers of less than listing price and no give backs at the closing . A clean uncomplicated deal.

I probably will negotiate a offer that is clearly not a dual agency.

Dual agency is a clear conflict of interest.

Mathew 24.6 :No man can serve two masters .

28 joaquin andrew

I have a correction to my previous post. I made a typo error
I wrote I volunteered to list for 280.00o.00.

that was a mistake, I meant to write the broker suggested listing for 230,000 and I listed it for 228,000. ($2000.00 less)

29 Josie

I’m pretty naive when it comes to real estate – I purchased my first and only property (a unit) from my older brother 12 years ago at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately I’ve gotten myself into a very bad situation financially and along with multiple debt collectors I owe a crap load to strata – basically because they don’t do anything and I don’t see why I should pay for a service that is clearly not provided! Simple things like leaking ceilings, rubbish removal, gardening and general maintenance.

Now I am desperately trying to sell to help relieve some financial stresses. I had a couple who were approved by their bank (after the banks evaluators had been to see it) to buy it at a reduced price of $220K just 2 weeks ago, unfortunately they decided to use their current home as an investment and buy bigger.

I spoke to my strata agent yesterday who told me they were going to start chasing me for the arrears, I mentioned that I was trying to sell but it didn’t go through. They had one of their agents call me and he said he had an investor who would take it now – I made a time that suited my tenant and the agent turned up to look at the unit this morning.

When I asked my tenant how he thought it went he said “they” were really impressed with it – it’s fully renovated – they were saying how nicely done it was and the “other agent” was talking about ripping out the kitchen and putting in all sorts of fandangle things – a bit odd I thought for an agent to be talking about redoing a property for sale.

Anyhow, the agent rang this afternoon and told me he had turned up there with “another agent” and unfortunately due to the presentation of my unit and the fact that one sold (by him to an investor) in the complex just recently for $168K mine is not worth anymore than $170K… Even though mine has been completely renovated and the other is completely original – all 30 years worth of original! When I told him I was not interested in selling for $50K less than what I was willing to sell for he kept saying “oh but in the current market” really? The market has dropped $50,000 in just under two weeks?

My guess is the “other agent” was infact his investor mate and they’re trying to get it cheap. I facebook stalked the little terd, and in 2 years he has sold 17 properties – obviously he is only interested in the sales.

I’m furious, I’m pissed that he has so slyly tried to back door me! But what I’m even more annoyed about is the fact that he mentioned my strata arrears saying “well if we don’t get a contract signed asap they will just go straight to stage 3” I’m assuming he means court?

They can’t force me to sell my property for that price when a bank had valued the place at $220,000 can they?

30 Theresa

We looked at a house with an agent we called from the ad.He seemed nice and showed us the house that was a fixer upper.low and behold the house had more problems than we anticipated after paying for the inspection it needed amoung other things a septic system ,roof repair, water filtration system etc.The seller did not want to contribute to bringing up to code the septic at first and decided to go 50/ 50 on other issues.Now we have closing set in a week and the septic has not been done.our loan is good up to then and we will have to apply all over again.This has been going on now for 6 months.In the meantime the agent cannot guarentee if we van have the septic put in by closing.I asked for the number of the guy who is going to put in the septic and he said he cannot recall his name.what can we do ?

31 Cindy

What’s the difference between a pitbull on a hot dog and a Realtor on a client? Nothing at all

They are sharks in the water . Beware.

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