That free goody-bag could come with a hefty price-tag.

Real Estate Agent with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty

I had a buyer client I'd worked with for a while, who suddenly decided to look in a different area.  We had gotten along famously, they thanked me profusely for my help and knowledge, so I was sad to see them go, but, the new area was far enough away from my area of expertise, that I understood their desire to use an agent with local knowledge. No hard feelings.

Several weeks later, they decided to return their search to a community in my area, but they didn't let me know.  Instead, they started attending open houses... and surprise of all surprises, they met some nice agents at those open houses who they had show them some additional local properties.  All-in-all, at one point they had three agents working with them, before they came back to me.

When they returned to me, they told me about their experiences, and that while the other agents they'd met at Open Houses were nice, they didn't have the base of knowledge, the expertise that I'd demonstrated to them... and they wanted to come back to me.  We looked at some additional properties that had come on the market since they'd left for "areas unknown" and we ended up finding a property, and wrote an accepted offer.

Now,  Before y'all get started with the "You should have them sign an Exclusive Buyer's Agreement (EBA)"... I don't use them, I don't believe in them... so don't get me wound up.  In fact one of the agents they'd met wanted them to sign her EBA... and they didn't want to... when she insisted... that's when they left her, and returned to me.

One of the agents they really liked, not because she was professional, not because she was knowledgeable, not because she was experienced or anything else... but because each time they met with her (including at the open house)... she gave them a little goody-bag filled with candy, soaps, lotions & candles, and they enjoyed getting that little "gift" each time they met.  But they learned rather quickly, that the little bag of goodies came at a real cost, since the agent didn't have any knowledge of local market.

Am I going to start handing out goody-bags to my potential buyers??  No, I'm just going to continue to offer truly excellent service, along with my expertise and market knowledge, and let the soaps & candies fall where they may.

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 2934 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Office: 847.869.7300      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email:

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



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Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Lets get some results gift of all

Jul 12, 2019 06:00 AM #14
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

I need to find some open houses to get some free goodies. As far as EBA, yes many buyers do not want to sign them and many will run the other way. Which is why i like listing better. Then buyers have to come to me. I do work as a EBA for those whose homes i sell, and i do make them sign. I also work with referals who i also make sign. But for a buyer off the street, i like to feel them out, some i wont ask, some i may and some its ok if they leave.

Jul 12, 2019 06:07 AM #15
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Hi Alan, I personally wouldn't select someone based on their gift giving, that does nothing to me so I wouldn't do it to others. Give me knowledge and earn my trust. 

Jul 12, 2019 07:46 AM #16
Theresa Akin

I don't do "Goody Bags". I give bottled water so they can whet their whistle for their ongoing  questions. I do the buyer rep agreements due to the times I had to fight for my compensation. 

Jul 12, 2019 07:57 AM #17
Alan Brown
Coldwell Banker Montrose Colorado - Montrose, CO
29 Years of Real Estate Experience .

Knowledge is power. Like you I only have them sign the buyers agency when they make an offer. I have 29 years in my market so my experience is second to none. If the buyers can't see the vast knowledge I have and want to work with some one else that is good with me. It is on a very rare occassion do I lose a buyer once I start working with them 

Jul 12, 2019 09:20 AM #18
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Alan - it's not what's in that free goody bag that lures in many buyers but the surprise that is waiting behind door number three.  Hint:  it's likely a ZONK.  At least in one way or another.  

Jul 12, 2019 10:02 AM #19
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Hi Alan, wow, a goody bag every time this agent meets someone? That could get very expensive! Yikes!

Jul 12, 2019 10:45 AM #20
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Solutions - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

The comments have already been made about your insightful article so I'm just going to point out that I really like the presentation with the goody bags. Perfect pictures, nice layout, easy to read. 

Jul 12, 2019 11:17 AM #21
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

So glad it worked out for you, Alan, because when it doesn't, it stings.

Jul 12, 2019 12:37 PM #22
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

If she lasts in the business, she'll look back and regret the money she spent on useless goody bags. I get trying to stand out - but it's a cop out in my opinion.

Anyway, you proved the point that knowledge and experience trump prettily wrapped treats.

Jul 12, 2019 02:46 PM #23
Michael Eisenberg
eXp Realty - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Real Estate Guy

Sounds like your goodie bag full of knowledge beat out the trinkets.


Jul 12, 2019 04:48 PM #24
Susan McCall - - Compass Realty Solutions
Compass Realty Solutions - Portland, OR
Listing and Buyer's Agent

Depends on what is in the goodie bag :)

Jul 12, 2019 06:47 PM #25
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

when buyers are serious, they don't want trinkets....they want to find the right home in the right area....  with a professional who knows the marketplace....

Jul 13, 2019 02:47 AM #26
Stephen Turner
Burkentine Realty Group (Burkentien Builders) - York, PA

great story and thanks for sharing. It does show that people really do want what's best for themselves. Sure they'll take the trinkets but when it comes to making a wise decision, they do want the best counsel. Big take-a-way here is: Know your stuff and make sure others know that you know your stuff! (Clearly, you did and as such, got their business!)

Jul 13, 2019 08:38 AM #27
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Alan May - yes that does come with a big price.  Just like those seminar dinners given by fianancil planners.

Jul 13, 2019 09:02 AM #28
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Glad to hear that one worked out. I've had that happen a time or two. It can be frustrating, but you just keep plugging and helping the next client. 

Jul 13, 2019 04:20 PM #29
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Always beware of the free offer that sounds too good to be true. I think we’ve all been there at some point.

Jul 13, 2019 10:00 PM #30
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Alan May ,

I'm so glad I caught this on Carol Williams Second Chance Saturday Series. I don't do goody bags but this agent probably paid for a course and was advised this was a good way to connect with clients. Nothing substitutes knowledge of the market by an agent when looking for a home! Glad your story had a happy ending. Some fall for these gimmicks.

Jul 14, 2019 05:38 AM #31
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

100% agree with you.  I don't have anyone sign anything either.  instead, I use my knowledge and expertise to instill trust and they know I have their best interests at heart.  Could there have been a time or 2 that agreement might have come in handy, maybe. But I can't remember who that might have been!  Good for you!

Jul 14, 2019 11:58 AM #32
Laura Filip
Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life - Whitesboro, TX
What can we do for you today?

Very interesting indeed a gift every time you meet a client. Hmm that would be hard to get done 

Jul 16, 2019 03:20 PM #33
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