Real estate agents are people, and as with all industries, there are some who you prefer to work with, and some you don’t. When it comes to selling a home, some real estate agents will deceive their clients to benefit themselves.

Not all agents are like this, but it is worth knowing the strategies such real estate agents use, so you can spot them and steer clear of those agents who are not worth your commission.

Keep in mind all of these things are legal, but that doesn’t make them suitable for you! In fact, it is quite the opposite.

There is a significant percentage of agents who will go out of their way to do “the right thing.” Others are more concerned about their income than what’s best for their clients.

These are the bad eggs you need to stay away from. If you are going to be selling a home shortly, you need to know the ways real estate agents will fool you.

Below I will separate myth from facts in the real world. You will see why some of these standard real estate practices do more for an agent’s benefit than a home seller.

1. Dual Agency

Dual agency is probably one of the worst things a Realtor can do for a client who wants to sell their home. With Duel agency the Real Estate agent attempts to represent you, the seller, and the buyer, all at the same time, which is technically impossible. You cannot serve the best interests of both a buyer and a seller involved in the same transaction.

The seller wants to sell for as much as possible, while the buyer wants to buy for as little as possible. Yet, some agents will attempt to offer such a deal to clients because they can get a double commission from the sale.

No seller would ever go for dual agency if they knew the actual facts. But any Real Estate agent willing to try and play dual agent is probably going to be willing to paint it as a prettier picture than it is.

These types of Realtors may use the same salesmanship skills to convince you otherwise, implying that the agent can serve the needs of both the seller and the buyer. Be warned – THEY CAN’T.

In fact, in many states, laws require that a Realtor serving as a dual agent do nothing to jeopardize the interests of his or her client – which means the agent can say nothing on behalf of either party. So you end up paying commission for an agent that does nothing essentially.

Imagine for a moment that you are selling your home. The real estate agent gets a phone call from the pretty internet advertisement they are running. Mr. & Mrs. Jones want to see your home. If you allow dual agency, the agent YOU hired will no longer be representing your best interests.

What does this mean in the real world? Try the following:

  • When the buyer makes an offer and asks the agent you hired what you should counteroffer, they cannot answer. Remember, they don’t represent you anymore. They can’t by law give you any advice.
  • When the home inspection happens, and the buyer wants you to fix X, Y, and Z, your agent also will no longer be able to help you with guidance.
  • Throughout the whole transaction, the agent cannot offer you any real estate advice.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? You are paying a real estate agent thousands of dollars, if not tens of thousands. Didn’t you hire the agent for their real estate expertise?

Keep this in mind – your agent does not have to become a dual agent. They can work with the buyer and remain as a seller’s agent. What this means is they represent you and only you.

Additionally, if the buyer wants their own agent, they can be referred to another agent who can help them.

Trust me. There are a lot of agents that would never consider doing a referral. Why? Simple – it would be taking money out of their pocket. You don’t need this kind of agent.

Understanding Dual agency in your state is critical. Don’t make the same mistake so many people have made before you. A significant amount of real estate agents get sued every year because of dual agency.

Dual agency is akin to an attorney trying to represent both the plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit. Sounds silly, doesn’t it! There is a reason why some states have been smart enough to ban dual agency!

2. Open Houses

Some real estate agents just love to express to their clients how fantastic open houses are as a marketing activity. This is, in fact, the #1-way real estate agents fool their seller clients.

What they fail to tell the seller is the benefit for the agent. Some unscrupulous agents will go so far as suggesting to their client’s open houses are necessary to sell a home.

Folks, serious buyers always schedule showings. This is a fact, not fiction.

With an open house, you invite many strangers into your home with no idea if they really want to buy or not. Nosy neighbors, others selling homes that want to compare, window shoppers, and the unqualified.

Worse yet, sometimes even potential burglars are scoping out your home – these are the types of people who come to open houses.

Tons of real estate agents never mention the potential downsides of holding your home open to a bunch of deadbeats.

Open houses can be a magnet for crime!

So why do Realtors push open houses so much? Open houses can potentially be great for prospecting new buyers and sellers.

Those other sellers looking to compare may need a Realtor to represent them. Agents can get business from open houses. Unfortunately, that business rarely includes actual buyers for YOUR home.

Statistically speaking, around 2 percent of all sales come from an open house. Yes, you read that correctly a lousy 2 percent.

You don’t need an open house to sell your home.  More importantly, you don’t need an agent who makes an open house the focus of their marketing efforts.

3. Misleading on Price

This is the oldest trick in the book. Every seller wants to think that their home is worth more than it is – it’s just human nature.

While a good agent will give you an honest price and be willing to explain why the price is less than you hoped it would be, a shady real estate agent will happily tell you your home is worth more than any other on the block.

Unfortunately, once it comes time to sell the home, no one will buy it at that unreasonable price. But now the agent has your listing and knows it is only a matter of time before you are willing to drop the price.

The most significant problem in such a situation is that you will probably get less for your home by overpricing it than you would have by pricing it competitively in the first place. An overpriced home sits on the market, gaining a stigma and leading buyers to assume something is wrong with it.

When you finally do drop the price to what it first should have been, no one bites. They only come in after you reduce it again – when it looks like too good a deal to pass up.

History shows us repeatedly that homes correctly priced from day one sell for the most money. In fact, in a strong seller’s market, you may wind up getting multiple offers that end up over the asking price. If you overprice your home, you probably won’t see any bids.

Do yourself a favor and look at the comparable sales presented by multiple agents carefully. The comps never lie; people do! If one real estate agent is giving you pie in the sky figures, you can bet your bottom dollar they are lying to you.

4. Saying Attendance at a Home Inspection Isn’t Necessary

Exceptional real estate agents go out of their way to do their best for a client. A good agent needs to be ready and willing to represent you at all the correct times, including during the home inspection.

Your listing agent should be at the inspection representing YOU! Unfortunately, it is common for listing agents to skip out on the buyer’s home inspection.

In some areas of the country, this is prevalent. Here in Massachusetts, I see the listing agent at the home inspection about 60-70 percent of the time. That is 30-40 percent of the time; the seller is not getting proper representation.

Your Realtor is not there to argue with the home inspector or tell the inspector how to do their job. Instead, your agent should sit quietly and listen to all aspects of the inspection to gain accurate information on the state of your home.

Buyers will often over-inflate problems with the home. Sometimes home inspectors will do the same. But because your agent was there, he or she can give you a real-world perspective on the state of your home.

Over the years, I have seen far too many times where minor problems were made into much more significant issues by buyers. In fact, I have seen buyers exaggerate enough where you would call it a lie.

Not long ago, while I was selling a home and the home inspector told the buyer there were 3-5 years left in the life of the roof. I was there to hear this from the horse’s mouth.

After the inspection, the buyer asked for a concession for a new roof. If I was not there to hear the inspector say the roof had years of life left, the seller might have been out of pocket thousands of dollars.

This is just one example. I see home inspection problems being blown out of proportion all the time. The buyer’s agent is almost always at the home inspection. It would be best if you insisted on your agent being there too.

Be prepared to hear an excuse from a real estate agent who doesn’t attend, like “there is too much liability for me to be present.” An attorney advised me not to go. Liability is never created by real estate agents who are there to listen. Liability is established when a real estate agent tries to be a second home inspector.

5. Over Promising and Under Delivering

Even the worst agents can still be helpful salespeople – capable of spinning a yarn about what they will do for you, the results they will get, and how smart it is to hire them. But a bad agent will tend to fall short of those promises.

Failures on the part of a bad real estate agent often include things like:

  • Poor communication. Your agent should be busy selling your home, which means he or she may not be available every time you call. However, a bad agent may rarely return your calls in a timely fashion, fail to tell you about important issues with your sale, and just be bad at communication.
  • Promising marketing but failing to produce it. It takes more than a for-sale sign and a listing to sell a home. A bad Realtor may promise comprehensive real estate marketing – including a website, social media, video tours, professional photography, brochures, etc. – but then only pursue a few of those channels.
  • Terrible photos and videos. Today’s buyers expect clear, flattering images and often professional-quality video tours. The agent may say he or she will deliver these things, but then you find that the listing includes shoddy pictures and poor-quality video.
  • Unfamiliar with your market. You want an agent who knows how to sell homes in your area.

These are the things a good realtor will do for a seller.  If you are selling your home, make sure you look for an agent with all of these qualities. Put them on your checklist and insist the agent is on board.

Above all else, don’t be deceived by a sneaky real estate agent that cares more about what comes in and out of their wallet. The best real estate agents always put the client first!

What to Do

When selling a home, the agent you pick is critical to your success. It would help if you were focusing on working with someone who always puts your best interests first. Excellent communication throughout the sales process is paramount.

The best real estate agents understand this and always go the extra mile. Avoid a Realtor who will deceive you by remembering these things:

  1. Never accept dual agency.
  2. Don’t pick an agent whose marketing is focused on holding open houses.
  3. Never pick a real estate agent based on the price they can sell your home for.
  4. Always insist on having your real estate agent represent you at the home inspection.
  5. Look for a local agent who has an outstanding reputation and a track record of success.

By following these home selling tips, you will put yourself in a better position for success.

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November 2021