A good way to ruin your real estate reputation

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Back when I was an agent there were several in our market who had a habit of “buying” listings. It was pretty easy in the pre-Internet days. Homeowners and property owners didn’t know the value of their homes or land.

be careful with your reputationUnscrupulous agents would promise a high price to get the listing signed, then when the property wasn’t sold after a few months, they’d tell the sellers that the market had changed.

I actually overheard one agent telling a buyer “They’ve listed it at X, but I know I can get them to sell it to you for Y.” He did manage to smooth-talk a lot of people before he finally moved away for good.

Of course, buyers – especially those coming in from other parts of the country – didn’t know market values either. So unless they talked with a few agents and saw several properties, they were likely to over-pay. Some of his listing clients got lucky.

Today you’d think "buying listings" would be a thing of the past, but it’s not.

There are still agents pulling that scam – or trying to.

What happened in Florida not too long ago is a prime example. In this case, the unscrupulous agent will take a hit to his reputation.

I know about this one because an agent I write for got caught in the middle.

An agent I’ll call Tom (not his name) was competing for a condo listing. It had previously been listed at $1.75 million but had not sold. Tom tried to buy the listing by telling the woman that he could get it sold for $1.8 M.

But instead she listed with my client at 1.75 – with the understanding that if it hadn’t sold within 30 days, she’d drop to $1.69 million.

That happened. Some other year this might have sold quickly. It IS a nice condo. But COVID has put a bit of a damper on Million-dollar + sales in that community.

Then along comes agent Tom with an offer – for $1.5 million. As you might guess, the seller was upset and the offer went nowhere. The last I heard, Tom had contacted my client to say that he was sure he could get his buyers up to 1.6 if she could just talk the seller down.

Meanwhile, when my client mentioned Tom’s name to this seller, she got a hiss and a snarl.

Gee, what do you suppose that lady is saying about Tom to anyone who’ll listen?


Image courtesy of africa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Comments (19)

Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

It all comes down to competence and character. Great post Marte Cliff , whether its a gentle reminder, a warning or validation, many should read this.

Jul 25, 2020 03:47 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor e-Pro, CRS, RCS-D, Vets - I think the agent in this story is probably feeling sorry now that he raised this seller's expectations beyond the reasonable level.

Unfortunately, it's my client who is paying the price - she says the condo really should be priced between 1.6 and 1.65. But try telling that to a seller who was assured that 1.8 was right.

Jul 25, 2020 08:23 PM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Valuation is not a game to me although, yes, I continue to see this one being played. There's no pulling prices out of thin air as many did in the past. Don't have the time or the resources to cover that spread.  

Jul 26, 2020 04:37 AM
Marte Cliff

Kevin J. May Today it's so easy for sellers to go on line and get a fair idea of their home's current value. Wishful thinking does't make it so.

Jul 26, 2020 09:36 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

What a wonderful point, Marte! When I think about "buying" listings this is what comes to mind:

1. I'm always surprised more home sellers don't "see through" this and close their eyes to it. In my listing presentation, I actually have a page that talks about why I don't "buy" listings either in terms of home price or my commission.

2. Our Code of Ethics says we are obligated to be honest with our clients... and I often wonder how agents who know they are overpricing a home rationalize that lack of honesty in their own minds.

Jul 26, 2020 05:49 AM
Marte Cliff

Nina Hollander You'd think they could see through it, especially if they've interviewed more than one agent. As for the Code of Ethics - Dishonest people will be dishonest no matter how many codes they promise to uphold. As Jim Rohn said: "Liars lie."

Jul 26, 2020 09:38 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Carol Williams hi Carol... if you even get back on here with your second chance Saturday post... this is one I'm nominating for inclusion.

Jul 26, 2020 05:51 AM
Marte Cliff

Thank you Nina!

Jul 26, 2020 09:39 AM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Amazing. It's hard to believe that agents still do this, but we see it here too. I'm not sure why sellers assume their home is the "special" one that will sell above the current market value. 

Jul 26, 2020 07:29 AM
Marte Cliff

Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD It was easy back when people had no access to information. Now it's just crazy. And yes, some think that their home is "better" than all the others.

Jul 26, 2020 09:40 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Marte Cliff - as they say all you have is your reputation, good reputation or bad reputation,

Jul 26, 2020 11:00 AM
Marte Cliff

That's true, Grant Schneider - we all have one or the other.

Jul 27, 2020 02:07 PM
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Shaking my head Marte.  I know this stuff happens but that type of agent clearly won't be building a long term sustainable business in real estate.  Nobody will trust them.  TRUST is incredibly important.

Jul 26, 2020 11:25 AM
Marte Cliff

I agree, Anna Banana Kruchten Arizona's Top Banana!. We all prefer to work with people we can trust - and when we trust and find out we were duped... Hell hath no fury!

Jul 27, 2020 02:09 PM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

If it didn't sell at $1.75m with the previous agent, why would it sell with a new agent at the same price? Appears the sell price isn't comparable to other properties listed in that neighborhood or community or the selling strategy must be changed. Interesting post about agents that will say or do anything to secure a listing.  

Jul 28, 2020 01:37 AM
Marte Cliff

Kimo Jarrett Why indeed? My client was sure it wouldn't sell at that price, which was why she insisted on a reduction in 30 days. But - hard for a seller to swallow 1.5 from the agent who assured her HE could sell it for 1.8.

Jul 28, 2020 11:13 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Oh there is one agent in particular in my area that overprices listings...and then cuts the commission split  on the buyer side so he can get more on the listing side!  Wonder how that guy stays in business....

Jul 28, 2020 10:08 AM
Marte Cliff

Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR I have often wondred how those agents stay in business. In a large city I'd say it was because they keep finding new "marks," but in our small town it really was amazing.

Jul 28, 2020 11:14 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


It has always been that way, and it will stay that way especially where the culture is that you want to look like you have a lot of listings.  A

Aug 02, 2020 10:26 AM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Great information, thanks for sharing.  I hope you have a great day.

Aug 05, 2020 01:50 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Marte Cliff ,

I'm so glad that Carol Williams included your post on her Second Changes Saturday Series. For some agents its the only way they know to get a listing..buy it! Ultimately rarely does it ever work and the damage to your professional reputation is unrepairable! 

Sep 05, 2020 06:21 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Marte Cliff - I am glad that Carol Williams featured this today.  Those people are still out there.

Sep 05, 2020 07:39 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I'm sure that homeowner will NOT be providing Tom with complimentary input OR a 5 star review!

Sep 05, 2020 11:47 AM
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 570-801-5525

I hope sellers see and let this think in.  They fall for it because they don't know any better.  They don't have the frame of reference to recognize inflated claims unless they selected an agent who will educate them to be wary of the unscrupulous.

Sep 06, 2020 05:53 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Marte:

It seems this sort of behavior occurs no matter what the market is doing, and the results are probably always the same. It's a cheap, eaasy way to try to get a listing, instead of doing what's really right for the homeowner.


Sep 08, 2020 07:45 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

So sad when that happens!  And very frustrating!


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