A Real Estate Agent's Candid Advice for Buyers and Sellers

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Tread Carefully When Offering a Lowball
Sara describes one especially annoying buyer she dealt with briefly before dumping. "He was one of those people who was really smart, so he thought everyone else should cater to him." Apparently, he wasn't terribly bright when it came to negotiating. The buyer wanted to offer $300,000 for a home listed at $430,000. She says, "That number was totally ludicrous. The seller would have laughed in his

Tread Carefully When Offering a Lowball

Sara describes one especially annoying buyer she dealt with briefly before dumping. "He was one of those people who was really smart, so he thought everyone else should cater to him." Apparently, he wasn't terribly bright when it came to negotiating. The buyer wanted to offer $300,000 for a home listed at $430,000. She says, "That number was totally ludicrous. The seller would have laughed in his face."

Sara says, "Sometimes extreme lowballing works, but only with a small number of people. If a couple is divorcing, one might try to spite the other by accepting a bad offer. I told him, 'If you want to play that numbers game, do it, but let's do it my way.'" She warned him that if the seller doesn't counter because the offer was too low, his only choice would be to give a second offer with his tail between his legs.

The buyer was stubborn and refused Sara's advice. She told the buyer she found the offer embarrassing and an insult to the seller, and she didn't want her name associated with the bid. She says the buyer was completely shocked when Sara severed their affiliation.

Don't Get Bamboozled

Sara tells me that many new agents use open houses as a tool to poach clients. She says these agents ask buyers to sign in, then use the phone numbers to solicit business. "So if you don't want an agent to harass you, don't put your number in the open house registry. They will tell you the seller requires everyone to sign in, so just put your name and not your number."

Sara describes another suspect tactic agents use to get customers. "Some agents will send out marketing mailers and they tell the seller it's an effort to sell their home, but it's really marketing for the listing agent. The flier will say, 'If you would like to see this home or are thinking of listing your own home, then call me.' I would never send one of those out if I were selling my own home." She advises sellers to never give an agent a budget for mailers.

Sara tells me about some dishonest strategies that real estate agents use to conjure up interest in a property. "Some will lie about the condition of the home or how new an HVAC system is. They'll say 'totally renovated and remodeled' when it might only be a couple new tiles in the bathroom or a new countertop. They sometimes include the square footage of a balcony or a deck and say it's bigger than it really is. They'll embellish the listing, but they can only go so far. They can't totally misrepresent it, because when you see the property, you'll know they lied."

Time to Dump Your Agent?

Sara says that agents who make you feel pressured in any way deserve to be dumped. She says that some agents will "stop listening and try to push you into properties they like, or act like they're irritated that the process is taking a long time, or some don't sit you down to understand what you want." She says a bad agent may also push you into a more expensive property than you're comfortable with so they can get a bigger commission.

She says, "You want to make sure you're happy with the agent you choose, you trust them and feel they will represent your best interests. You are working for a common goal; the relationship shouldn't feel conflicting. If there's no trust, you shouldn't work with that agent."

'It Feels Awesome to Cut Them Loose'

Despite her complaints about a few jerks, Sara enjoys working with the majority of her clients. To Sara, the real estate business is "all about building a family and making connections for people. Some might say you should never mix business with pleasure, but if someone is your friend, you will do a better job for them than a stranger. Your friends are your clients and your clients become your friends."

Sara says, "When you're a new broker, you have to put up with all kinds of people until you get your business established. No client is worth that kind of headache to get the commission. Once you have enough business to keep food on the table, it's best to say no to those people. It feels awesome to cut them loose."

Also See: Tips on Buying Foreclosure Properties

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