The Cheapest Trick in the Book!

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Realty Affiliates

An Agent Told Us She Had a Buyer So We Listed Our Home With her ... We've Never Seen The Buyer!  

We recently received a call from a property owner in our community who had an unpleasant situation occur with another local agent.  The agent told the property owners that she had a buyer for their property but needed to have a listing to protect herself before she actually showed the home to the potential purchaser.  

Our response ... You are likely the victim of one of real estate's oldest and cheapest tricks.  An unscrupulous agent will use this ploy to get you to list your property.  An agent with a serious Buyer that has an interest in your home will either have a Buyer's Broker Agreement with the Buyer, or will ask you for a One Party Listing for protection, but an extended Exclusive Right to Sell Listing need not, and should not, be a condition precedent for such a showing.  

Understand, too, that such a showing does not mean you must list with that agent.  You should evaluate your listing agent in the conventional manner - considering their production, the type of property you have and the type of property the agents sell, the agents' willingness to provide customer references from recent transactions, how you generally feel about the agents and their business morals, values and practices, and these days ... are they full time agents? 

Another old trick is to list at a high price, higher than all the other agents said they could get you, and then beat you up week after week for a price reduction.  Between their incessant pressure, the lapse of time from the listing date with no offers, and your increasing frustration and motivation to sell, you will begrudgingly accede to the reality of the market value of your home and reduce your price by either a listing price reduction or accepting a lower offer.  In the interim you lose time and experience unnecessary frustration.  You are truly a victim in this situation and you'll never know it. 

Our Advice:  This is a challenging market that needs competent professional services from professional real estate agents, not cheap trickery.  With many Sellers under pressure to sell, these unbelievable gutter tricks have resurfaced lately.  

One agent recently called the Sellers of a property that we have listed ... properly listed with a sign, with brochures, in MLS, in our ad, and has been on the MLS tour! ... and told them she had a Buyer for their home but needed a listing.  She was actually so bold as to leave a message on the Seller's work phone at his office.  The seller called her back, reminded her it was listed, and even offered to pay her a bonus to bring her "Buyer" to boot!  He asked her to call us and arrange a showing ... we are still (two weeks later) waiting for the call.  

If its time for you to sell be sure you work with one of the many great professional agents in the area, not one using old "tricks".  If they trick you now to get your listing for their benefit ... what do you think they'll do when it comes time to sign a sales agreement ... when it's your money on the line?!  We believe they'll "trick" you then too, not always considering your interest in the consequences of your selling decisions, rather only thinking of their gain in the situation.  Most agents will treat you courteously and professionally, but it is important to be aware of the predators and their ploys - "forewarned is forearmed".  

An agent approaching you with a Buyer - whether you are a FSBO, or it is unsolicited - can be a good thing.  Pay attention to their approach and the representation of the parties.  Are you being properly represented?  It can and should be just fine - just be aware.  When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs ... Experience is Priceless!  Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.,


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Erika Rogers
Red Rock Real Estate - Saint George, UT
St George Utah Real Estate & local info.

This was a great post, I've enjoyed reading the other comments and their experiences too.  It's just amazing what some agents will do for business.  I live in a relatively small community and you'd think that some of this behavior would come back to haunt them.  Sorry to say that some of the "big guns" here practice some of those techniques.

Dec 18, 2008 09:39 AM #32
Angie Perez
Weichert, Realtors - Edison, NJ
@NJRETODAY & @AgentKnowHow

Before I was a realtor, at the hight of the market, I use to get "the call" that went something like this.

Hi, this is so and so from XYZ Realtors. Is this ______________.

"Yes, how may i help you?"

"Well Mrs. _________, the purpose of my call is to find out if you were thinking about selling your home now or in the near future. You see, I'm working with this nice, young couple and I promised them I would call the neighborhood because well, we look at a lot of houses and they haven't found one that they like to buy. Have you thought about selling now or in the near future?"

I mean in this business, you have to really mean it to make this call. But its dialogue that the gurus teach. I've heard it on tapes and it gives people false hope.

I mean when I got the call, I was excited. It meant to me that my neigborhood was desirable. For a sec, I thought about selling. Then, I reminded myself, I wasn't looking to move.

We are amazed that people still fall for it. but why won't they? If they didn't fall for it, they wouldn't trust us, which means we are burning a bridge when we list and don't bring in any buyers. We burn bridges when we fail to do the promises we made in general.

Good Post. It makes me think some of the gurus need to change the dialogues/scripts they teach.





Dec 18, 2008 09:41 AM #33
Konnie Mac McCarthy
McLean, VA
Associate Broker - VA & MD

Early on in my career I lost a listing to an agent who did this....I now know that it is the oldest trick in the book...back then...I had no idea how to combat that.

Dec 18, 2008 09:49 AM #34
Ron Spanton
RE/MAX Real Estate Associates - Gilbertsville, KY
Kentucky Lake Area

We are in a small town market as well and you would think the word would get around, but we too have expierenced a "big gun" who has used these improper techniques for years.

Dec 18, 2008 10:31 AM #35
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

Jim- Well some people just never learn that this is so tacky and do not understand that sales is about relationships. They never get ahead for long. We had one agent tell our seller, your agent has not sold your house in over 560 days! Well, she was so dumb she did not even know how to read the mls on this 2 million dollar expired listing, BTW- he relisted with us today, he could not believe their dumbness. He told her, apparently you have not studied my property before you called me, my agent had it for a 180 days and in this market, it will take a while to sell a property like this. Katerina

Dec 18, 2008 10:39 AM #36
Kay Van Kampen
RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX Solutions - Springfield, MO
Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate

I closed on a home today after another agent pulled the same stactics.  After having it listed a few months, I took her the offer and had to convince her it was not a bogus contract!  These type of listing agents will not be forgotten.  Honesty is always the winner!

Dec 18, 2008 10:46 AM #37
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

It amazes me when I hear stories like this.  How do these characters get their license in the first place?  Maybe we should have some sort of background check.

Dec 18, 2008 12:33 PM #38
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

These really are the oldest tricks in the agent's books.  Good blog.

Dec 18, 2008 12:56 PM #39
Jim Valentine
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Gardnerville, NV

Alan in Colorado - Yep!  You are right ... we deserve what we get if we don't police our own industry!  We say that and we don't always do that!  Sometimes it's easier to let the bad penny slip away.  That doesn't mean it's right ... that just means it easier. 

We have notoriously obnoxious Agent in our market that every shudders when he enters the room ...we look the other way but don't step forward and deal with him because no one wants to get his slime on them.  Right ... NO!  Easier ... Yes! 

Who makes that call?  It happens alll the time!

Dec 18, 2008 01:02 PM #40
sonny kwan

I have had a buyer who wanted to view a home that was off the market or newly expired, rather than take the buyer to see the home, I asked the seller to sign a ONE day listing with me before I took the buyer into the home. because I have been taken advantage before from the seller trying to negotiate me out of the deal when I brought them the buyer. NOT COOL.

Dec 18, 2008 01:32 PM #41
Kim Hamblin
Bella Casa Real Estate Group - McMinnville, OR

Maybe Ethics should be taught more often!  I can't believe some of these tricks.  I was listening to an older set of guru tapes and they were doing some techniques that I thought were fairly close to being unethical and just chose to overlook it.

I think we should all report brokers who pull these dirty tricks, especially when the house is under contract.  When realtors violate ethics, we need to hold them accountable because it makes our whole industry look bad!

A background check is required in Oregon, but that doesn't stop people from being unethical, but it is a good idea- some states don't require it? 

Dec 18, 2008 01:40 PM #42
Wayne Warshawsky
RE/MAX Four Corners - McKinney, TX
Realtor, ABR,IRES,CDPE,SFR Your Texas

With the prospect of loosing your license over this I cant see anyone taking that risk doing something so unethical.  I might be naive but I cant see anyone doing this,  These agents have guts.

Dec 18, 2008 02:19 PM #43
Mark Ryan
Mark Ryan Group / Re/Max Victory - Dayton, OH
Broker, CRS, ABR, CDPE

Actually even with the possibility of losing the license this does not surprise me at all... One, most likely wont get caught... Two, desperation makes people do strange things...  sad but all to true

Dec 18, 2008 02:45 PM #44
Mike Russell
Mike Russell & Associates - Overland Park, KS
Overland Park Kansas Real Estate

I hate sleazy tactics. It gives us all a bad name.

Dec 18, 2008 03:14 PM #45
Roland Woodworth
Q Realty - Clarksville, TN
Q Realty - Power In Real Estate

Jim: I have heard this over and over for the past 10 years in this business.. I HATE it when I hear someone mis-leading a home owner in hopes of getting the listing..

Dec 18, 2008 03:40 PM #46
Jim Valentine
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Gardnerville, NV

Some agents are the products of the brokers who teach them.  We have seen this over and over.  These agents "grow uo" in the business (so to speak) learning these shifty habits and really don't know any better because that is the business model they think is normal.


Dec 18, 2008 05:27 PM #47
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
Keller Williams 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce - Short Sale

Oldest and cheapest.....and one that was taught by the first brokerage we were "parked" with....THEN they will list with you....and THEN can you sleep at night ?

Dec 18, 2008 10:21 PM #48
Lisa VonBargen
Photography7522 - Estes Park, CO
Estes Park Real Estate Photographer

Oldest, cheapest and still used on a regular basis...sometimes by really successful agents. I can look out my window and see a house whose listing was obtained by that method 6 months ago, no buyer and still overpriced!  Lisa

Dec 19, 2008 09:53 AM #49

We had one like that, the seller's elected to list with the agent who told them what they wanted to hear, not the truth.  Now, one year later, they are still in the house, it's worth even less that it was a year ago.  They weren't able to go on with their moving plans and have tlost the opportunity they had to buy a great property in the community they wanted to move to ... where's the sense in all that?

Dec 19, 2008 10:04 AM #50
Jim Valentine
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Gardnerville, NV

We have thought about this situation several times.  What to do?  Contact the sellers who rejected us before and try and revive the business relationship once their "BAD" listing expires?  The sellers need us now more than ever.  Will we look silly or will they just reject us again because they made a poor choice the first time and now they want to validate their last decision?  What is the right thing to do?

One seller called us and said, "OK ... you were right!  Will you list my property again?"  That doesn't happen very often.

Dec 20, 2008 10:37 PM #51
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