I Don't Want a Listing Agent, But You Can Bring Me a Buyer

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

I Don't Want a Listing Agent, But You Can Bring Me a Buyer

When I first got my license I remember vividly talking with acquaintances who wanted to sell, but didn't want to hire me to list their home.  In their mind, I could still get a piece of the action by bringing them a buyer.  They had no idea that the odds of me finding a buyer for their particular home were nil if I didn't market their home.  And what buyer's agent is going to market a home, listed by another agent?  

Now, hearing sellers tell me that they don't want to hire me, or any listing agent, but if I bring them a buyer they will pay me, brings the same feeling of frustration.  Nowadays, I can shrug it off with a cynical laugh that is really saying, "Good luck buddy."  Nonetheless, when a real estate professional hears the words, "I'll pay you if you bring me a buyer, but I'm not hiring you to sell my home," it makes us want to explain that the odds of success in that ideology are slim to none.  And even if you happen to nab a buyer, you may still be on the losing end of negotiations.

When we are hired as listing agents, we know that we will get paid to sell your home.  Therefore, we invest our time, talent and budget into marketing your home.  We get to you know the features of your home, what makes it unique, photograph it and spread the word through marketing and networking with fellow agents.  THIS is the activity that brings in the buyers. 

Telling random real estate agents you meet that you want to sell your house, aren't interested in listing it, yet you want us to bring you a buyer is like asking, "Go market my house without any promise of being paid.  See if you can find me a buyer, because I don't know how and certainly don't want to spend the money to hire a professional to do that." 

To a professional real estate agent, it is downright insulting.  It is almost like asking a caterer how they put on an event, getting recipes and then asking them for supplies, but telling them you will only pay them if they event turns out exactly how you wanted.  Because let's face it, when you are asking agents to bring you buyers, you may not get offers you like.  We, at that point in time, have been hired by the buyer to find a home for them at price and terms suitable to them.  You as a seller, hanging out there all by yourself, are left to negotiate and try to determine market conditions, on your own.  Sure you can use Zillow or Trulia to help you figure out market conditions and a reasonable price for your firm, but we agents know their automated home valuations are rarely on the mark.

And even in a seller's market, a local agent with lots of buyer leads considers your For Sale By Owner their best kept secret.  You may think exposure to the Internet is all you need, but a buyer searching online sees the difference a professional presentation by a local real estate agent and these are the listings that draw them in.  Your raw photos aren't drawing in the consumer.  And if they ever get to your blathering description of your home, buyers will feel you are too attached to your home to ever reasonably negotiate with.  It will take convincing on our part to get our buyers through the door if your lure isn't shiny enough.

If you want to sell your house, hire a listing agent.  They will be on your side and interpret market data for you.  They are seeing your competition through the eyes of buyers, not the wishful eyes of a seller who can see no wrong in their own home.  They can help you market your home from staging to photographing and describing it in a way that draws the buyers in.  When an offer comes in, they will help you negotiate the best deal possible, and navigate through inspections and other contingencies.  After all, getting a buyer on the hook is only the first step.  Getting the home to settlement takes a well coordinated dance between seller and buyer.  Without the lead of an agent, you may give away too much at the negotiating table, or miss deadlines, thus opening yourself up to a buyer voiding the contract.  That means starting the process of finding a buyer all over again.

Go ahead and tell me  you'll pay me to bring you a buyer, and aren't interested in hiring me to list your home.  That tells me you are  penny wise and pound foolish..  The job of a listing agent and a buyer's agent could not be more different.  If you want someone out there on your behalf, you need a listing agent.


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers 06/17/2017 04:40 AM
  2. Jill Watts 06/19/2017 10:07 AM
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Sandra Leigh Newman
Golden Star Realty Incorporated, REALTORS® - Paw Paw, MI

I had that happen recently actually except she hired someone new instead of me. I had walked her through the checklist of prepping for sale and what renovations to make. She used me for over a year with the promise of the listing and then fudged. The house still has no offer 4 weeks later in this great market because they priced it much higher than I would have and I suspect that is why the other agent got the listing, because he over priced it to not sell. Did she make the right choice? I think not but that is my professional opinion. She was sure to tell me when we last spoke, if I got a Buyer for it to show it to them. Of course I would but I don't have a Buyer for an overpriced home. Sorry.

Jun 17, 2017 09:00 AM #39
Lindsay Reagan, Realtor
Wellington, FL

Recently, I have had Sellers who's homes were listed with a Realtor call  me directly to ask me to bring any buyers I have to her home...Now shame on the listing agent for this

Jun 17, 2017 09:35 AM #40
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

Don't many agents market to sellers the claim that they have the buyers?  Isn't that what you do when you put it in the MLS?  You are giving agents the chance to bring you a buyer.   Getting it in the MLS now can be done for around $500. A photographer can be had for $125, stager $200 and an appraisal for $400 and a pre-listing inspection for $400.


But your post highlights the need for agents to identify what values they bring to the table and somehow convey those values to the seller.  Unfortunately, many of those values are invisible.

The big value of agents is in the intangibles.  Negotiator is a big value which can save people money but how do people know you are good at it?  Being a good advocate for the seller or protecting them from mistakes is valuable but it's tough to show that upfront.  I guess one can have a blog of stories or something.  I always want to write the story of my last transaction but I hesitate because I don't want to have the people involved to know what actually went on.  I wouldn't want the other guy to know that he capitulated too soon or that his agent might have screwed up.  

Jun 17, 2017 11:28 AM #41
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - BoiseMeridianRealEstate.com - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

Yes, we have heard this as well. Great post Chris Ann. -Kasey

Jun 17, 2017 12:04 PM #42
Stephen Turner
TriCorner Homes (TriCorner Realty) - York, PA

You caught me! I must say I can agree with your point yet didn't see it as much diffrently then when I have buyers and need to find them homes, but are listed by other agents. 

However your example of:

" It is almost like asking a caterer how they put on an event, getting recipes and then asking them for supplies, but telling them you will only pay them if they event turns out exactly how you wanted."

really hit me and helped me see how insulting that would be.


Jun 17, 2017 12:05 PM #43
Jeanne Gregory
RE/MAX Southwest - Sugar Land, TX
The most important home I sell is YOURS!

I sold a FSBO one time.  The guy was clueless.  My buyer got everything he wanted and more.  At closing, the seller realized he had an $8000 pre-payment penalty AND he said he had NO INTENTION of paying me-something that was spelled out from day 1.  I already knew he had to sell because his business was failing (he told me this) and my buyer said "my agent gets paid or I don't buy you're effing house (this buyer was very straightforward).  So, the seller left with about $15,000 less than he figured.  A listing agent is worth every penny. 

Jun 17, 2017 02:48 PM #44
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Excellent FAQ of why you hire a professional listing agent to market the home in it's "best light" and then sell it correctly and for the most money possible!  I just went through this saem conversation.  

Jun 17, 2017 04:33 PM #45
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire

What, no box of chocolates,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,gees cheers cvc

Jun 17, 2017 06:23 PM #46
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

I couldn't have said it any better. Congrats on the well deserved feature.

Jun 17, 2017 08:10 PM #47
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Chris Ann

One can dream . . . . but it doesn't make it so.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jun 17, 2017 08:35 PM #48
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Chris Ann

Congratulations on being awarded the feature on an informative post.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jun 17, 2017 08:36 PM #49
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Well written post Chris Ann, congrats on the "Gold" star and VB is more of a buyers agent.

Jun 18, 2017 09:34 AM #50
Stavrula "Sam" Crafa, RNC,GRI, CDPE, PSA
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL
Providing the integrity and service you deserve.

I actually had a buyer for a FSBO. My buyer drove by it one day and called me with the phone number (I train my buyers well ). The owner was a flipper but all indications were that it may have been his first flip and he was still in the process of updating. He was willing to pay the buyer agent fee, so I wrote up an offer and it was accepted. Then came the inspections. He had to put in new plumbing, a new roof, numerous electrical issues, some wood rot, and fix some other things. Oh, and we got him to replace the appliences.  By the time we were done with him, I had the distinct impression that he was going to make very little money if anything at all.  Had he been represented by a Realtor, he would have been must better off. Great for my buyer who still lives in the house today. Too bad for him. 

Jun 18, 2017 08:06 PM #51
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good Morning Chris Ann - that one really confuses me.  If they expect to pay if you sell it why shoot themselves in the foot by not letting you list it.  I guess they think people are going to be knocking on their door.

Jun 19, 2017 04:16 AM #52
Keller Williams Realty Partners SW - Cooper City, FL
Selling Broward County Homes with Passion!

With so much written about it being a Seller's market, many homesellers believe it's easy to sell.  These homeowners ignore the reality of correct market pricing, and skill, needed to get the deal to the table. Good post!

Jun 19, 2017 06:35 AM #53
Peggy James
EXIT Realty Associates - Woodbridge, VA
Woodbridge Virginia Area Real Estate Specialist

Chris Ann Cleland nice post. You and I both know. Homeowners have no idea what they are asking.  They just know they have a  home they need to sell.

The randomness of calling a real estate agent on the phone and saying my house is for sale do you have a buyer is  a cry for help.  It is at this exact  point, that most For Sale By Owners start rationalizing in their mind. " I will  just call local REALTORS because it is so expensive to advertise, or I have not clue how to do the online marketing stuff"

That is the perfect opportunity to have the talk.  I typically share with them,I totally understand where you are coming from. It is expensive to sell a home. Maybe you should consider not selling.  When the response is, but I need to sell it.  I say Exactly! But here is the problem with that statement. You clearly have no systems in place, you have no knowledge of how to attact buyers who want and need what your  home has to offer and the lifestyle it would provide the prospective buyer. Professional, skilled, successful REALTORS do. That is why you need to list your home for sale with a real estate agent.  If they are not ready....I just stay in touch.

Jun 19, 2017 06:43 AM #54
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

These types of sellers are fairly clueless when it comes to real estate if they say something like that. I try to explain that the way I get a buyer for their home is to market their home, and I only market my own listings. I let them know that if they decide later on they need my help, they can call me back.

Because I know they will need my help.

Jun 19, 2017 09:00 AM #55
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA

I hear that recently often too. Where they are getting that from? Is it some kind of Zillow wizard technique? 

Jun 19, 2017 01:07 PM #56
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA

'' They have no idea that the odds of me finding a buyer for their particular home are nil if I don't market their home. '' ~ timeless:) 

Jun 19, 2017 01:09 PM #57
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Chris Ann Cleland , no matter what we say or how we say it, FSBOs like to dismiss all the facts and go about selling their homes their own way and in most cases, leave money on the table.

Jun 19, 2017 02:58 PM #58
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Chris Ann Cleland

Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
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