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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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dan Balm

Yes. All real estate agents are liars and cheats. All politicians are liars and cheats. All lawyers are liars and cheats. All bankers are thieves. All taxi drivers are thieving immigrants. All gardeners are latinos (who are also liars and cheats). All auto mechanics tell you that you need to spend more on your cars to fix them, so they are liars and cheats too. Your grocer? A liar. Those vegetables didn’t cost her that much. Your hairstylist is also probably robbing you too.

In fact, trust no one. Ever.

Your column is nothing more than a collection of rants about what I truly believe are isolated incidents that has led up to fear mongering of others.

There are true real estate professionals out there and your gross over generalizations contribute very little positive to the world or to people who may need a professional to help them.

2 John Farabaugh

Obviously, there are 2 sides to this whole conversation. Now, it is my turn to let the truth be told in the middle. First i will say, I do agree with the some of those passionate Realtors above. I know what they do and how hard they work. I do agree that selling a home with a good, experienced, competent, honest Realtor will make you more money. There is know doubt about it. They will keep you from panic selling, bump your buyer agent or buyer up even when you said you would take it, protect your interests like their own, show you simple tricks to put more in your pocket, and many more things i do not have time and space to mention.
However, the problem with the Real Estate industry is just like every other profession, but …gets noticed and brought to our attention more often in this one. It truly is the fact that there are so many individuals doing this profession that really don’t care. They do not educate themselves more than what is required, nor do they care to give you advise nor ever learned how, they work as little as possible, they it part time, some are even just plain unethical and greedy, some really just pray it closes for their hopeful paycheck. These agents do nothing to prevent negative transactions, constantly have deals fall apart without an itch of bother to them outside their own financial loss. Then, also their is the young newbees, that were thrown out to the field with little or no training. Its not that these agents do not care about their client, its that they know very little to help. Or worse, theyy could put their client in harms way and lose market time due to their ignorance.
Unfortunately, this is usually more than 2/3 rds of the industry. Think about this though….in your own profession or those you have experienced…isn’t it the same? Those that come to work with passion to make a difference and those that just do enough to get by.
So those of you that had the bad experience or felt you received a raw deal from an agent, chances are you probably got one. The odds are really against you. I bet you……you probably went with the cheapest firm in town, or someone you knew, or you never did any homework before choosing your Realtor. Shouldn’t you be, are maybe your are….very particular when it comes to picking out your IRA broker/investor, your surgeon, your dentist, your contractor, your baby doctor, your cleaning lady, and so on. But because of maybe you possible lack of knowledge and not thinking about it this way, you were not selective in your choice of Agents. If you paid attention to the passionate agents above and realizing that their work ethic granted them the ability to not be pounding the pavement for a new client. 90 percent of their business is through repeat or referral. What kind of impact are they making on their clients…..when their being sent their family, friends, and coming back years later to look up that same person. These are the individuals that make a difference in any profession. And, i bet you, no matter what they choose to do…they will go at it with passion and be granted success. These Realtors do not come by cheap, they are not the least expensive but they may not be the most expensive either because its in their blood to carry compassion and not greed. They just believe they should earn more than the ones that shouldn’t be in that business.
The reason i know this ….is i am a Realtor that is just about to leave the business to go to do something else that i have a different passion for. This profession was my third….and i was very successful with all of them. It is this business that frustates me the most. It is those agent that give the best a bad name. It will be my clients that i will miss the most not all my peers. I have the utmost respect for those agents that i had the privilege of working with that i butted heads with on so many occasion because we took out fiduciary commitment to our clients almost too serious, and battle out every detail in our clients best interest. It will be those whom shared the same stories of sleepless nights because a family was all packed ready to move to their dream home until a snag arose from the lender side. It was those times our personal lives were put on hold working together and not resting until we overcame what needed done to close, where we make picked up the ball where someone dropped it elswhere to get it done. WE MADE IT HAPPEN….we didn’t sit back watching and blaming. My hats will be off to those agents! Because of their pride and respect for what they do, they had to show they were better than everyone else. They had more knowledge, they had more drive to get that knowledge, they carefully took their time on every decision to make it the right move for their client not just doing enough to get by. They took great pride in getting that look of awe from their clients when they pulled the impossible off. The took pride when they told their clients “NO” we are not going to take that offer…we can get more …and they did! Also, the pride these agents feel when their clients time after time say …”what ever you think is best” “I trust your judgement”….because THAT is something those agents earned. Knowing people generally do not entrust someone with that kind of power, but they do for you. They must feel they are truly being looked after.
These Agents evoke that special bond with buyers or sellers to where they confide to them what thier rock bottom is or what they can afford max. These agent pride themselves almost egotistically, to go to work in negotiations and only to bring back much better results than their client ever expected. These agents at times even worried if they almost pushed to hard for their client that they could have lost the sale.
These agents want to feel like they earned their keep!!!….and FOLKS…and especially you MIKE HOLMAN…Its too bad you never found yourself a an agent like that. I know quite a few of them and they are all very busy. I believe you just had one or two bad experiences. Then you already made your opinion and never looked any farther, other than for more of the faulty ones to support your belief. You just believed and will always believe because of your ignorance to open your eyes….that… they (agents) are all the same.
Mike…you just ‘Stereotyped’. Your writings just presumed judgement on all. Assuming with no exceptions!
All Agents are all the same!…is what we all were to perceive. Its a good thing we weren’t talking about a color…you may have been considered a racist! I ask you …Is it not fair to knock any profession, (or gender or race) because of your experiences? Is this irresponsible in your writings? Isn’t this how unfair beliefs always started….with someone with the power of the pen portraying the bad in a whole group? Is there not good attorneys and bad? Good doctors and Bad? It is because of you bad experiences and how people like you portray us after is one of the reasons i am leaving this business.
You could have just worked in your experiences and what to look out for. Instead of trying put the fear of God in everyone so they can be against a certain kind. Hmmmm…what a thought!
Maybe you could have even expounded some kind of outrage of how many brokers let anyone become an agent. Protesting as i do, by demand more requirements to become a Realtor. More education, more training, mandatory apprenticeships, and etc…making it more difficult for those whom are just looking for a pastime to join the field.
And…Mike…FYI….the greedy ones without compassion…….??…don’t worry, they usually work themselves out of business. Without referrals they get tired of chasing down new business for years and earning the bad reputation amongst their peers. Your article could have had a more positive spin ….with some more investigation on your part.
But again, like i said…..not all members of a profession dare to go that extra mile….that includes writers

3 Jeanne

We just did the worst real estate contract of our lives! The realtor became a different person, pushy, arrogant. Everything in our neighbourhood was going for full price. We had 2 showings! 2! And he told us he was coming over to present an offer to us. I was tired, my husband was tired, we told him not to come, and he came anyway! He pushed and pushed us into signing the deal, even though we didn’t want to. Despicable! He has lost our business and we will never, ever recommend him to anyone, ever! We lost a minimum of $4000-$5000 on the deal, maybe more. We had put a lot of money into improving and updating the house as well.

4 Jeanne

Worst real estate experience we have ever had! We have bought and sold, many times, but have never been pushed so hard into accepting the first offer before, ever! It is a really hot market where we are, and people are getting full prices for their homes. We are very unhappy with the way the realtor treated us, and will never do business with again or recommend him to anyone! We lost over $5000 in the deal and put tons of money into the place, improving it.

5 Howard

Wow Mike, must have taken you longer to write out all these fake comments as it did to write the entire article!!

Thank god there are people like you saving these poor people from making such a big mistake! Like who would have thought real estate agents only get paid when they make a sale???? Thats just so insightful!

6 Tom adams

I have bought 9 properties in the last 8 years.

My strategy is simple. ALWAYS approach the selling agent directly. Make it clear you will use them in the purchase.

They start to salivate. They get BOTH ends of the commission. They are way,way,way more likely to encourage their client to take a lowball offer.

I will save several thousand dollars. The agent gets more thousands in their pocket. The seller is the one losing out.

Re commissions. It’s a joke. An agent has almost no incentive to sell your house at a market value…none. Their commission percent diminishes and they are not going to risk listing 15 thousand commission to earn another 200 of getting you another 10 thousand final price.

Here is a way to maximize your return. Offer 0 ( yes zero) commission up to a reasonable selling price …what you would accept. Then offer 50% ABOVE that. A motivated broker will scramble and work his hardest.

7 Cheryl

My parents just listed their house about a month ago. In a super nice area, and their house is in very good shape for an over 40 year old house. I grew up in that house and know it is worth so much more. The realtor told my parents to list the house low because that’s what the game is about now. To list low and let the bidding games begin. My dad should’ve listened to his gut and listed it at the price he knew it was worth. They had a one day-2 hour open house over the Easter long weekend. With almost 40 people coming to see the house, the house only got two offers. But then again, it was the long weekend, the open house was listed for about a week, people could’ve been out of town, people were busy with church, and people could’ve forgotten about the open house (like I do at times.) the realtor kept pushing my dad into signing a contract and dealing the deal and I kept telling my dad to have another open house because someone out there will want his million dollar land and be willing to pay big bucks for it. His realtor was highly manipulative to sell immediately to such a low offer when my dad could’ve sold his house at almost 2 million dollars, and retire in style. I love an hour away from my parents and with two young kids, I couldn’t go to my parents’ house and guide them as to what to do and not fall for this realtors trickery to sign for less than what the land is worth. He refused to and also told my parents that other open houses won’t do any good and that there was no point, when I kept advising my parents to have more open houses because it was my dads house after all and he could do whatever he wanted as the realtor would have to oblige to him every wish. Sadly, this manipulative realtor is a con artist who feeds one first time sellers and so my parents felt like they had no choice but to sign the contract because he made them believe no one else would want the house/land. And houses have been selling in that area for over 1.5 million. This realtor was very negative and only spoke about the flaws in the house which worked for my family for over 30+ years because the house was built that way. And it would’ve worked for the ppl who wanted to pay top dollar for it. Honestly, if I was at my parents’ house while the realtor was there at 11 pm, persuading my parents to sign the contract, I would’ve ripped him a new one! Not all realtors are bad, but you must remember to be able to trust your realtor, and choose a positive realtor.

8 Davey Realtor

I have a great idea… why don’t we abolish all Real Estate Agents all together. We’ll let all the geniuses list their homes for whatever they think they’re worth. Lets watch them sell a home for considerably less than market value. Then lets watch the neighborhood follow suit by getting less and less for their home. Real Estate Agents made the marketplace and are responsible for keeping prices at a proper level for their respective locations. This has been done over years and years of hard work. Or maybe you can listen to some a*shole spew out their advice to the world because of his never ending accumulation of knowledge. Remember, everyone has an opinion, in the end it’s yours that counts.

9 Kev

I got a question… we’ve won the house recently and the seller’s agent tells us we can’t go to seller’s house who invited us for dinner before they move out (closing day in 3 weeks) , is that legally true? what rule is that? I know for “Purchaser’s Visit” they need to know … but does it mean he can’t privately see me in his house?!?!

10 Kathy

I just read this (IDIOTIC) article by you, #Mike Holman on using a Realtor! WHAT a CROCK and completely slanderous against an industry! I don’t know what STATES most of these incidents happened in, but in TEXAS we are held to a very high standard and my REPUTATION and my license are more important to me that to participate in activities as describe by most in these negative comments. Too bad you can’t be sued for slander but in this GREAT COUNTRY even IDIOTS can voice their opinions. And you know what they say about opinions!
By the way Theresa, what happened to “buyer beware” and taking some responsibility on yourself for the choices you make? AGAIN, in TEXAS, we have option periods for you to have inspections so that you know UP FRONT what is wrong with the house. During that option period, if you find issues like this that the seller is not willing to take care of, YOU WALK AWAY! AT NO TIME, do I as a Realtor, become part of the decision making process about condition issues of a house YOU are buying. YOU as the buyer contract the inspector and YOU as the buyer make the decision as to what repairs are needed before you close on the deal. As a REALTOR, I can advise you on professional repair people to call and get estimates or do the repair, but I DO NOT MAKE THE CALL of moving forward with the purchase. IN A LOT OF SITUATIONS, if the loan is FHA, USDA OR VA, if this type repairs/conditions are not addressed, repaired/replaced BEFORE CLOSING the house become NON-FANCIABLE and YOU are not held to the contract….meaning you MOVE ON!
Really, people….get a clue about what a TRUE PROFESSIONAL does and the VALUE we can bring to the table. Would you go to court and defend yourself in a murder trial, would you operate on yourself, and in 90% of the situations, would you BUILD YOUR OWN HOUSE?

11 Shannon

Hello, As a Realtor for 12 years I just want to make sure you all know that an agent “double ending” a deal does not necessarily mean it has to be a Dual Agency. In fact a buyer who doesn’t have an agent and contacts the listing agent to view a property can be treated as a customer and offered a “No Agency” relationship. Agents still need to be honest about this with the buyer in letting them know that they represent the seller so basically not to tell them any information that they do not want the seller to have. The agent also has to be honest about any disclosures that need to be given about the property and they can still explain real estate practices and forms. A Limited Dual Agency would be asked for if the listing agent has buyers that they are working with and they happen to want to purchase a house that agent has listed. In this case the Realtor would have to be impartial and ask for a Limited Dual Agency. I can say that most agents I know work very hard for their clients and truly do care.

12 0112king

Yes I was a victim of one of these predatorisl aggressive realtors out here in Denver,concalled KingReality a man band Ross King is the owner and my home is in a fast rising neighborhood just outside of Denver and this agent told me my home was priced too high and I was scaring away potential buyers with that number said we didn’t get any offers at all then I told him I trusted him to put a price on it as he was also a certified appraiser. The second I approved his price recommendation the house sons in 2 days. I sold it and mad s $27,000.00 profit and only lived in the town home for three years. And at the title company I noticed the buyers were his close friends but when he established that I was noticing that he quickly be and quiet and his face was all blushed. I sold my home for that number because I was listening to my realtor and thought he knew best. Never ever……

13 idiots

Realtors are scum
Realtors opinions about their industry are completely biased and self serving

and KATHY is a fucking idiot

14 lakhanpal

I’m a lay man, person yes a realtor make fraud with me he bring the first offer and took sign on that before completion date house flipped two-time I denied to sign on that anyone gave any suggestion how I get away from this .

15 Juliette

Do not trust realtors. I learned this the hard way. However I do believe that we rushed into using a realtor too quickly and that was our fault. Do your research we will next time.

16 Jared

Let’s face it.
1) Real estate agents are basically used car salesman.
2) All the people writing negative comments on here ARE real estate agents trying to sadly defend themselves.
3) I’m sry, but with Technology today, real estate commissions are no longer warranted. Ur GETTING PAID THE SAME COMMISSIONS AS AGENT WERE BEFORE THE INTERNET.
Like gimme a break. I’m sure there are some circumstances where that commission is earned, but more times than not its just sleazy sales tactics and bullying.
I’ve sold over 15 properties so I know.
Discount brokers are the future!!!

17 Imelda doheny

My estate agent refused to put my house up for the market price he put it up for 185000 on the internet when I requested to put it up at the lower price for a quick sale of 200000 I do believe he told the purchasers they could get it for his price, thry loved the house they offered his price I refused it but I did not know at this time he had advertised at the 185000. After a nasty argument he put an arrow and increased the price to 190000 on the internet again the purchasers immediately agreed. I asked the estate agent to leave and never come back but he refused telling me I will never get the lower sale value for my house. I paid 200000 for the house 8 years ago and invested another 130000 in it,he bullied me into saying yes even making me cry so my home is now selling for 190000 which is 30000 less than he said it was worth last year, what can I do I can’t sleep very depressed at present

18 Chris Simons

I agree with Jared. I asked my friend Larry Cole who owns his own Real Estate agency, why should anybody use an agent nowadays? He said there is no good reason. A long time ago, I had a broker license and work for an agency for over a year. Plus, for twenty years I was a carpenter contractor and a landlord. I’ve sold three homes thru agents but not this time.

19 Laura

Thank you for your comment. It was very useful to me. It’s too bad you are leaving the profession.

20 Traci Nicodemus

I think the real estate industry is like any other.. You have some that are there that shouldn’t be. However, I have been a Home Builder for a decade, a Texas Realtor for over a decade, a RE/MAX franchise owner for nearly 5 years , have serve on the Exec. Committee for my Association and take the industry very seriously. With all due respect if the only value a person brings to the table in your eyes is a sign in the yard and you are an investor and don’t want to use a Realtor more power to you.. It’ amazing to me that people do a little DIY and suddenly they are an expert. I don’t care how many you have bought and sold you are not staying current on the laws that you must follow and they are regulated by the state licensed or not. You are not at your Capital fighting for homeowner rights being a voice to Congress when they make decisions that affect the industry and your rights.. 150,000 Realtors in Texas do! The widow who is distressed because she just lost her husband and now among everything else has to sell her home, the couple who built their home and the wife had to have to brain surgery’s and now they have to short sell their home of 15 years, the first time home buyer that knows nothing about the process and is nervous and just needs sound advice, I could go on and on! I am sorry but articles like this really get me heated.. I dedicate my life to being a great Realtor, and the narrow mindedness of this article is sickening! When you are given such a platform to influence and this is what you came up with.. Good luck being your own Realtor your going to need it. As for the gentlemen who’s friend owned a Brokerage and said agents are of no value; I feel sorry for his agents that invested in their future under him. The public, the agents, and the clients deserved better. Leaving the industry was a good choice for him!

21 John

Among others, Real estate agents and mortgage loan officers were the foot soldiers to the subprime mortgage crisis we experienced. I never saw any banks or CEOS at any buyers or sellers doors scamming them of their hard-earned money. These con artists got a free pass and right back at their usual tricks and scams all over again. All of those so-called good con artists don’t get a free pass because they’d like to believe they are not like the remaining 99% con artists. They signed deals with these other con artists and pat themselves on the back “s/he made us tons of money” but at least “my hands are clean”. Did you report that crooked agent or loan officer?

I understand the need for listing agent but the buyer’s agent profession should be abolished. Any truly ethical agent would not put themselves in such a compromising situation where they may be tempted to commit an unethical act. It’s like an alcoholic who decides to work at a bar promising his AA mentor that she has nothing to worry about.

22 Ed Lenarcic

What it all comes down to is the fact that real estate agents are people. They have families, home expenses, groceries, lives to lead. They are not your friends nor are they charities. They are conducting a business relationship with you. No matter how honest, in the end they will act in their own self-interest, just like you and everyone else would do. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous. So at every point you should consider whether your interests are the same or in conflict and act accordingly. I think Mike Holman has done an excellent job highlighting where those points are.

23 Cameron

I’ve never said any of these things and have been a realtor for six years. You are so far from reality man… I have personally saved someone from foreclosure 3 days before the bank would have taken their property and netted them an extra 100k. He and his daughter said they were in debt to me.

As far as I’m concerned, I let people ultimately decide what they are going to do and my job is to just best advise them so they have the best personal outcome. It’s not about what goes in my pockets, and getting more. It’s about doing a great job for the client and earning referral and repeat business from career-minded investors. Many realtors just have a one-off month and aren’t exactly sustainable. I’d say you’re more likely to get a worse deal with those types, as they’ll want to squeeze every penny out of you. My goal is customer satisfaction, consistency and sustainability. Maybe do your homework next time and not throw us all under an umbrella?

24 Ben Hills, Realtor

It’s sad that people have been mistreated and misrepresented by Realtors. When a client feels this is happening they should go to the broker, or ask a real estate law professional what to do. I, for one, pride myself on service. Building a client base that is happy with my services, has been treated respectfully, and told the truth all the way through the process: these are my standards for service. People do not deserve to be misled in the name of someone getting a bigger paycheck. Buyer and seller beware: People are people, some are good, some are bad. There are bad doctors, bad bloggers, bad clergy, bad actors, and bad Realtors.

25 Toni


26 Mandy

Thanks for having the cajones to post this. It is so true. I have bought and sold seven houses for my private homes and never has a real estate agent been valuable. They get in the way. They communicate poorly. They are not working for the buyer or the seller. They are working for themselves. The MLS has a monopoly and they are trying to protect it because they know they rarely add value. If you try to list a home for sale by owner, buying agents will not bring buyers to your house.
I will no longer hire an agent to find me a house. I end up finding it by myself anyway using Zillow and have used my real estate agent who makes money when I show her the one I want. I have always negotiated the fee and never paid 3% to each. They will take what you offer and if they won’t, someone will. Hopefully the new websites can go around the MLS. It isnt necessary. Now I will wait for all the agents to start screaming at me about how valuable they are and how negative I am. LOL! ($100K to sell my house? Really?)

27 Chris H.

It’s really easy to tell which of these comments have been written by realtors & which have been written by genuine buyers or sellers. Most (but not all) realtors that I have dealt with could easily be described as borderline sociopaths, charming & persuasive when they want you to sign a listing agreement, pushy, aggressive, duplicitous, manipulative & bullying once you have signed with them. Simple advice; don’t trust a real estate agent, they don’t have your best interests in mind, only theirs.

28 Jeff

In my experience, everything Mike said was true. Although it might all seem obvious, not everyone is aware of the discrepancy between the buyer/seller’s incentives and the realtor’s. That is really what this is all about–misaligned incentives.

Most contracts mention something about “fiduciary duty” to the client but most realtors completely ignore that. I have not explored some of the behavior in Mike’s post being cause for declaring a contract violation but it seems a reasonable approach for cancelling a contract with a bad realtor. They would likely sue for commissions but you could claim that they were not fulfilling their fiduciary duty to you.

In the end, sure, not all realtors are unethical (many are purely driven by money) but they do operate on different incentives that conflict with our own. Mike’s advice is just that–points to be aware of so you do not get taken for a ride. Those who are offended by a guy offering some warnings to consumers might want to evaluate how they actually support their clients.

If I were a real estate agent, I would work tooth and nail for my clients and make up for the quick revenue by having a larger inventory of homes. With all of the issues people have with agents, I have to believe I would have a constant stream of business once word got out that I moved mountains for clients. Unless, of course, other realtors were irritated by my approach and started bad mouthing me in public forums.

29 Catherine

I’m going through this as we speak.
Had an offer on the house, full asking…
2 others with appointments to see it..
No paperwork has been signed.
Our agent keeps saying except the offer but let the others come through but not tell them about the first offer…
I say the other 2 should know of the offer….Not the price but an offer has been made..
I love the quote: :”Accept the first offer so I can get paid very soon”,,
Guess I believe in being honest,, too bad the realtors don’t..
We aren’t even looking to gain more monies on the house, just want to be fair…
Still haven’t decided what to do…

30 Sal

The author of the blog is full of crap. He is describing the realtor who is in the business for a cup of coffee. I worked the business full time with no other income for 34 years. I could never have done that doing the things this moron described. A reputable realtor is worth his weight in gold. A bad realtor is easily identified and can be fired despite contract. 34 years. Never involved in a lawsuit or grievance. If the author of this blog ever gets a real estate license beware!!!!!

31 Jackie sammartino

Love your comments. All stereotypes. All half truths. ( IMO)

32 Jackie sammartino

It’s your own fault. You shouldn’t have let him in your house. Or picked up that pen to sign.

33 Sandy Canilli

Well, this is one of the most self-serving, inarticulate articles I have ever read. You obviously have some issues that are not resolved. Mostly personnel I would say. Good luck with all of that. In the meantime, basically everything you said after “Yesterday, we discussed how your agent” is bullshit. Fortunately, I don’t need to read your previous articles or forthcoming articles. And postmortems on this article would be a further waste of my time. As I said, good luck with all of that. ::::: shaking my head :::::

34 Hascal Price

No sale, no commission. Their interest in creating a deal is obvious regardless of which side of the transaction they are supposed to represent. Their value is in knowing the area, and access to web-based advertising. Once a deal is in place, they have value in knowing how to put together financing, and knowing the ins and outs of the paperwork. And all of that can be a big help. My impression in talking to them is that they give cookie cutter answers because of concerns over liability. Ask them about schools or crime stats, and they hide behind RE protocols. Same for radon testing, same for any tweaking of the comparison of comparables in light of days-on-market. (Homes that sell quickly indicate demand which in turn indicates potential for a higher asking price. Duh…) This gives an overall impression of dishonesty with these folks, and in fact, if dishonesty includes not answering simple questions, than yes, realtors are dishonest. But even dishonest people have their uses.

35 Mikey

All realtors are the same. They put your home in the MLS and wait for the phone to ring. Until there is an offer, there is no conflict of interest. Once there is an offer, there is a huge conflict of interest. Not only is the realtor only getting paid if a deal is consummated, they’re also trying to play nice with your negotiating opponent so they have a chance to get their business when they sell your house next. We’ve sold four houses and it’s the same each time.

In our current case, the agent did not pass on relevant information to us that would have given us leverage and literally refused to use the leverage we did have because they wanted the deal done more than they wanted to look our for our interests. Rather than help us meet the conditions of the sales contract at the lowest possible price and inconvenience, they are doing everything they can to make the buyer happy including trying to trick us into agreeing to take on more risk and inconvenience so the buyer can get what they want.

I don’t think our realtors are evil per se. I think the whole industry is unethical because the interests of the service providers do not align well with the interests of their customers. It’s just the air they breathe.

36 Katie

Your post is incredibly idiotic! Forty people through the open house is an excellent turnout! The fact that you received two offers from it means that 38 other people DID NOT see the value enough to want to make an offer! Be happy you received any offers because if it was as good of a deal as you made it sound, all 40 people would have written! Lastly, what other profession will meet with clients at 11 pm, and for FREE? Quit bashing the agent and appreciate their hard efforts!

37 Dave

My story is similar to Cheryl’s. My elderly father was convinced by his retirement home exec to hire a certain real estate agent who claimed to be “a retirement specialist”. The agent already had a pre-arranged client in the wings – a developer and house flipper. She took full commission for pressuring a sale before the house was even listed on MLS, denying my dear old trusting dad a bidding war that would have netted him tens of thousands more. The developer flipped the house after a few months renovating for nearly double what he paid. This to me is not only unethical, but actually constitutes elder abuse. The retirement generation have a great deal of wealth and all too many vultures are out there looking to profit from it. Their generation are trusting of “professionals” and this fact is being used to pad the pockets of profiteers and the unscrupulous. Be warned if you have elderly parents looking to sell up.


Well hello lovely, pleasant, people ! Sooo, I wish to sell my home/house & have no clue which agent/agency to conduct business with/through. I was thinking ‘for sale by owner’. Of course agent did not recommend that I do that, ( emphasis on ‘of course’ ). Then I must decide where to move TO..been where I am since 1968…know no other…as I’m sure readers have figured out already, I’M PETRIFIED. …any way,……suppose that is as good to say as it would be to hang a steak around my neck & not expect to get my head chewed off by carnivores.

39 Liz


40 Karen

Well after reading all of the above. I am very happy to say that I have found my realtor has not been pushy or given my gut a bad feeling. He’s been very positive and when I have gotten 2 offers he even said it wasn’t what I should take, but consider this or that. I’ve asked him tons of questions and when I research his answers have matched to what I find being said. I did find the comment from the investor above about working with the sellers agent if you are a buyer that they get a better deal & commissions etc , that I did not know! I think there are scum out there in every industry and I really believe I have the right agent.

41 Mary Wolf

The last two homes my husband and I sold we used real estate agents. In Florida the agent was a broker who owned the agency. In Ga. we signed with an agent from a top firm after interviewing 5 others. Both times, the agents bullied us into a lower listing price. Some of the comps were mobile homes or did not exist ( we could never find the home in tax records or driving around). The agents never updated us, we could never reach them and twice they asked us to show the house because they are busy and to make sure we keep silent during the showing. Things were missing from the home, one was a large wall hanging. Police would not do a report because there were no signs of forced entry. The broker did a “agent caravan” with good at our large waterfront Fl.home. We came home to open doors, salad dressing all over the floor in the kitchen, toilets with cigarettes butts floating and several lights on. You could see in the Master some had been laying in the bed. When I complained the broker told me a few agents had too much to drink and things (?) kinda got out of control but she left me some cake in the refrigerator. Both homes sold below what we wanted.
Both homes within 3 months were back in the market for $63,000 and $48,000 more then sold for, one in 2008 when the market was going down . We were fools to use the agents.
Cautionary advise: never listen to the “list your home low and create a bidding war”. If the only offer you get is the low price, you owe the full commission. My g\f fell for that line with her condo. After signing the agreement for $17,000 less than others had sold for the agent stood up and yelled SOLD!!! Yes, the listing agent bought the condo at the reduced price. Maria dropped out of school 3 months later, reason, her husband and her could not afford the house the wanted. They were counting on the money from the sale of the condo. Also, Marie’s husband went into a deep depression. He was from Cuba and worked very hard for the money. He drove to a remote area and took his life.
Maria now had to work full time, she rented a small apartment . She took a job at J C Penny and her dreams of being a nurse are on permanent hold. My husband and I tried to help, we paid an attorney but he said they owed he commission. I guess the upside is the agent sold the property fast, I Don’t Know How Agents live with themselves.

42 Julianne

I will NEVER hire a real estate agent again. The one we hired was unethical and that doesnt even describe her behavior. It decreased my belief in humanity. WE are going to sell our home by owner and will be just fine. They are all cut from the same cloth unfortunately.

43 Chelsie

My boyfriend and I are first time home sellers and cannot get rid of the feeling that we are being taken advantage of. No one in my family has ever owned a home and at first I thought that this was going to be a really wonderful experience like on HGTVs “Buying and Selling” (Spoiler alert: ITS NOT). We have a 1953 Cape Cod which we are restored to PRISTINE condition. Weve done the renovation work to ensure that it has all the bells and whistles like granite countertops etc., while still maintaining its character and charm. Needless to say its the best house on the block and a quick look at the photos on the internet compared to comps in the neighborhood confirm this. The problem? We spent too much on the renovation of course and are going to lose $19,000 because what we put into the home improves the function and look but does not increase the market value or appraisal of the property. Whatever, we have come to terms with this. We bought the house 9 years ago for $124,000, did at least $20,000 in renovations last year before we decided to relocate due to a job change, and listed it on the market for what our realtor said was market value $125,000. We explained all of this to our realtor. She SAW the property and knows what kind of condition it is in, she KNOWS what we paid for it and how much we still owe, and she UNDERSTANDS how much money we are already losing on this deal right off the bat if we accept a deal at list price.

Well after being on MLS an hour we had been pressured to accept the first offer that came in (which was $10,000 less than list price). We refused and said that we would hold out for list price. Well what do you know, the buyers came up to list price almost immediately. While we feel like we should have waited a bit to see if we could have drum up some more offers to possibly increase the price, or at the very least listed at a higher price, we went ahead and trusted our agent who let us know that “this is one of the best offers you could hope to get”. The troubles started almost immediately with the buyer wanting us to pay $4,000 closing costs in addition to a bunch of other costs throughout the contract. We said that we would not pay that much and that we were willing to pay $2,000. She came back and said the buyers agent would not agree to that and they have increased their offer to $127,000 but still want to keep the $4,000 closing costs– “its the same thing” she tells us. (Actually its not the same thing because agents get paid out of a percentage off the purchase price. So while the deal looks the same, it isnt because we are going to be paying higher agent fees to herself and the buyers agent so they are the ones profiting there not us). Whatever, we want to move quickly so we go with it.

The home inspection comes around and the buyers agent give us a bunch of non-sense repairs “fix Rolex wiring on the outside of the house” (pro-tip there is no such thing as Rolex wiring, its called ROMEX and a licensed home inspector should know this), “increase water pressure in bathroom faucet” (its a waterfall faucet and the water comes out slower than most faucets to make the water look pretty for decorative purposes), “replace missing chimney cap” (we dont have a fireplace so the chimney is just a furnace exhaust and its not missing its chimney cap, it never had one because they are know to create drafts). We already paid for and are offering an expensive home warranty so we were shocked to see such a long list of repairs that they wanted done by closing (when we bought the house we didnt ask for a thing to be repaired because we didnt want to take advantage of anyone and risk losing the sale but I guess we were in the minority with that mindset). We reached out to our agent and told her that we were not willing to pay for those repairs because they dont even make sense, expecting her to agree with us, and much to our surprise she didnt! She told me that we could not risk this sale not going through because we would have to start all over again with another buyer and “no one wants that do we?”. She wants ME (not the buyer) to get quotes on how much these idiotic repairs are going to cost, and for the ones that are non-existent (the Rolex wiring) wants me to get a statement from a licenses electrician that there is no such thing and that the inspector was confused. I told her that I felt like I was being asked to sacrifice my home with all these new expenses and was not willing to do so– we already didnt make any money at all on this sale! I told her that I wasnt worried about the sale not going through because if the buyer wants to walk, I welcome it and would like her to reach out to the sellers agent asap to let them know we wont be doing any of the repairs and that if their buyer thinks these repairs are a deal breaker that she should let us know now so that we can relist it asap. She straight up wont do it and is insisting that I reach out and get the quotes from the contractors first. Now I am supposed to waste my time calling contractors and getting repair quotes for things that I do not even plan on paying to fix. Isnt it customary that the buyer be the one looking up these quotes to ensure that I do not hire the cheapest shoddiest licensed contractor that I can find? Am I missing something or are things seeming a bit suspect here…..

44 Deball

I’m selling my house, hired an agent, did background on her, she lied about how long she had been an agent

45 BH

You have to be careful out there. Of course a selling agent is wanting you to sell your house ASAP so he/she can get their commission and move onto the next home. But don’t let anyone pressure you into selling YOUR home without your approval on anything!!! You are the client, and you are the one who can walk away if you don’t like the way some agent is doing business. If he/she are pressuring you to list your home quickly, or using unlicensed painters to complete a job because it will move faster to market, you have to be the one to take a stand. For every pushy agent out there, there are ones who have the knowledge and expertise to work with you and sell your home the right way. If you smell BS along the way, dump his ass and move on to a better agent.

46 Traci Nicodemus

This thread reminds me of when we discuss politics or religion.. Both sides very passionate from where they stand on the issue; left and right! I can’t deny that the industry has some agents that lack ethics and integrity. I think if we are honest we will find this in any industry. Are there people in it riding the tide, self serving, and in it for themselves? I have to say yes there is. However, just like every industry there are dedicated people that work hard to be the best representative they can be for those they serve. These same people love helping people recognize there goals and protecting their clients. They spend their time for FREE lobbying in their Capital and nations Capital lobbying for the preservation of property rights. As a matter a fact I did just that last week. I was in DC all week away from my family at the Capital Club with my Congressman, I was speaking up at the Senate meeting concerning the cap on property taxes that actually gives no extra credits for married couples or multi generational, net neutrality, fair housing for familial status. No one paid me a commission! While you may not respect Real Estate agents or live in my state my efforts as a Realtor benefit you and you aren’t paying me so I would rather you just say thank you! This doesn’t get me a single sale! I think if you are going to speak on an industry you need to collect all of your facts concerning the industry. Of course unless your self seeking trying to get readers and ratings by only writing to a topic that will get attention. There are names for these types of writings however as a respected Texas Realtor I will just bare facts and leave the names to those who are better qualified for such.

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