The other day when I was reading posts in my newsfeed on Facebook I saw a post in the Lab Coat Agents group where an agent was seeking advice. When other agents were getting into the fray, this agent who wrote the post stated, “I did it because my sellers instructed me to do so.” To me, the subject of the thread was insignificant. The interesting and thought-provoking thing for me was the response.
It got me to thinking: Is the listing agent's responsibility to do everything his or her seller tells them to do? When I brought this topic to the most recent brokerage office meeting, I was met with mixed responses. Specifically, some agents stated that their seller is their employer and they are supposed to do everything that their employer tells them to do.
Another agent brought up a very unique example which I thought was very on point. This agent stated, “When I go to the doctor, the doctor is not going to prescribe for me a medication just because I want it. The doctor will prescribe to me the medication that he thinks is best for me.” What this agent’s example brought to mind for me was the death of Michael Jackson. The doctor was found guilty of that exact thing.
So, are agents like doctors or are they just puppets for their clients? Or, is there a middle ground?
All agents have a fiduciary duty to do what is best for their clients. Unfortunately, what is best for clients may not be best for you. Also, there is a chance that the client may not actually realize quite yet what is best. While this may come from a place of arrogance, we are not hired to be a client’s puppet.
We are hired to advocate in their best interests in the same way that a doctor is solicited in order to find a cure or remedy. Specifically, if the seller tells you that he (or she) wants to sell the home for top dollar, it is your job to use your techniques and unique skill set in order to get that job done. You are entrusted to advise the sellers accordingly if they need to make changes to their property in order to accomplish that task.
Sometimes I say that agents spin many plates at the same time—like those plate spinners at the circus. In this case, I’d say that often agents need to walk a tightrope. We do not want to offend, and want to do what is best for the client. And, of course we want to see the deal close. It’s a balancing act, but if you keep your day job, then hopefully I won’t see you at Barnum & Bailey.