This article was published on April 5, 2013 by Amy Curtis and is being republished with her permission. With the spring market underway, my days
10 Things Real Estate Agents Agree to Disagree About
Real estate is a cooperative industry. You won’t survive long in this business if you can’t get along and work with other real estate agents.
That doesn’t mean agents don’t have their differences about how to do their jobs well!
There’s no one-size-fits-all way of working with clients. For every way one agent goes about getting their clients the best results, there’s an equal and opposite approach another agent firmly believes in.
Let’s take a look at 10 things that agents tend to be divided into two different points of view on, and give you a little perspective on why there’s such a divide.
1) Working 24/7
Real estate isn’t a 9 to 5 job by any means, but when an agent is “off” (if ever) is a huge debate.
On one side you have agents who boast that they’re available 24/7, 365 days a year. Whether it’s a call, text, or email from a buyer, seller, or another agent, they try to be available at any given moment.
On the other side you have agents who believe in taking a day or (gasp!) two off each week, and some even set hours of the day they’re available.
Neither way is right or wrong. While you certainly don’t want to work with an agent who is never available, just get a clear picture of when the agent you work with is available and make sure it works for your needs and expectations.
2) Showing houses to buyers who aren’t pre-approved
It’s actually for your own good to get pre-approved before you start going to see houses. It helps ensure you are only looking at houses you can afford so you don’t waste your time (or an agent’s time) looking at property you can’t even buy. Plus it prevents the heartbreak of finding a home you love, only to find out you can’t buy it.
Some agents draw a firm line in the sand and won’t show you a single house if you aren’t pre-approved. Others will show you a few before insisting. And some may never insist on you getting pre-approved.
Almost every single agent wants you to be pre-approved up front, but the reason many let it slide is because they don’t want to be too pushy and scare a potential buyer away, or just feel it comes across as rude. Again, it’s for your own good as much as the agent’s, so the earlier you get it the better.
3) Holding open houses
Do open houses work to sell houses or not? Depends on who you ask.
Some agents feel like they’re a waste of time and rarely result in the sale of the house. Others swear by them and feel like they do.
The truth is, no matter how they feel about it, if you’re listing your house with an agent and want an open house, they’ll probably host one for you. Don’t base your decision entirely on whether or not they believe in them, so much as whether they’re willing to do one if you want one.
4) Exclusive buyer agency agreements
When you list your house for sale you have to sign a listing agreement with a particular brokerage and agent for a specific period of time. But buyers don’t have to commit to an agent contractually in many areas. You may have to sign some agency paperwork, but more often than not you don’t have to tie yourself to an agent. But there is such a thing as an “exclusive buyer agency agreement” which an agent could ask you to sign, and that would tie you to a particular agent.
It’s a tough thing to ask for, since so many agents do not insist on one. It makes it seem like a pretty big ask when an agent does ask a buyer to commit to them contractually. That’s the main reason why most agents don’t ask, because there probably isn’t an agent out there who wouldn’t like to know that they have a committed relationship with their buyer.
But there are certainly agents out there who say they don’t believe in them and feel like if a buyer doesn’t want to be loyal or work with them, then that’s the way it goes…a piece of paper doesn’t create loyalty; doing a good job does.
The chances are you can easily find an agent (or thousands of them) who will never even ask or expect you to sign one of these, but if one does, give it some thought. If the agent is a good fit for you, and you trust him or her, why not give them the security of knowing they have a client who’s fully committed to working with them?
5) Taking a listing that’s priced too high
Even though agents will do a thorough analysis of the market and suggest a proper listing price, the homeowner ultimately decides on how much to ask for their house. But, the buyers ultimately decide on how much it’s worth in the open market by how they react.
Regardless of the market, an overpriced listing will take longer to sell. In many cases it will never sell until and unless the price is reduced to where it should be, if not lower than it could have sold for if priced appropriately to begin with.
Pretty much every agent knows this, and ideally doesn’t want to take an overpriced listing, but the reality is, if they don’t another agent will. Listings don’t grow on trees, so it’s a tough call to firmly say no to a seller who wants to list it too high. It could never sell and be a total waste of time and money for the agent, but at least they have the chance to sell it. The hope is that the seller will come to terms with reality and lower their price during the terms of the listing agreement and it will sell.
But there are agents who will not take an overpriced listing and think any agent who does is wasting their time and setting their clients up for disappointment. It’s a tough stance to take, and they often see people list with another agent, only to lower their price to where the agent had recommended.
6) Showing houses above what buyer can afford
This is the cousin of taking an overpriced listing. Much like sellers who want to try and get more than the data shows they can get for their house, buyers often want to look at houses way above their price range hoping they can negotiate it down to a price they can afford.
Most agents will likely agree to show you a house if it’s a little over what you can afford, but when it comes to houses that are out of your league, it depends on the agent. Some will humor you and show you any house you want (within reason); others won’t and feel like it’s negligent to even give a buyer hope and will just end up in heartbreak.
As always, there’s no right or wrong approach for an agent to take. Ones who will are just trying to be accommodating, while the ones who won’t see it as protecting you.
7) Staging listings
Every agent knows that the better a house shows, the more likely the house will sell fast and for the most money possible. But what constitutes “better” depends on the agent. Some think working with what you’ve got and just making sure it’s clean, tidy, and not cluttered will be fine. Others think you need an entire staging company to come in and revamp your decor.
If you have a professional staging company come in, or an agent who has a knack for staging, and truly “stage” your house, of course it won’t hurt! So you probably won’t find an agent out there who won’t agree that having your house professionally staged is a good idea. But, how much it will benefit you versus how much it will cost you can be hard to quantify.
But if you interview an agent who doesn’t believe it will help, and can offer reasons, advice, and guidance on how to make your home show well without staging, don’t disregard him or her just because they don’t believe in staging as much as another might.
8) Dual agency
Dual agency is when an agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a sale. In some areas it’s not legal, but in many areas it is and becomes more of a philosophical debate for agents.
Some feel like it works very well, and that they can represent both parties equally and fairly, and put together a deal that both parties are happy with. Others feel like it’s impossible to represent either side entirely well if you’re representing both parties.
It’s more important about how you feel of course! So, if having a single agent represent you and the other party feels fine to you, then go for it. If you’d rather have an agent who represents only you and your interests, then don’t agree to dual agency.
9) Professional photography
Just because you can take pictures of a house you’re listing with your phone nowadays, doesn’t mean you should. But it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Some phones can take as good of a picture as a camera…if you know what you’re doing.
If you’re interviewing agents to list your house, there’s a good chance you’ll have some agents touting that they’ll hire a professional photographer to come in and take pictures. But you may also find some who say they take their own shots, whether it’s with their phone or a camera.
Agents who firmly believe in hiring a photographer often scoff at agents who say they just do their own photography. But who’s to say that an agent doesn’t have the skills to take amazing pictures on their own?
If an agent believes in hiring a professional photographer, of course that’s fine. But if you’re interviewing an agent who doesn’t, just ask to see some examples of houses they’ve marketed in the past and see if their work stacks up to a pro.
10) Closing gifts (buyers and sellers)
You may or may not receive a closing gift after working with a real estate agent to buy or sell a house. It’s often something like a bottle of champagne or wine, something for your new home, or a gift certificate. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a gift…
There’s no rule that says an agent has to give you a gift, but if you hear about agents doing it, or have gotten one in the past, you may expect one. As with so many other things, some agents swear by giving gifts every time, some give them occasionally, and others never give them.
To advocates of gift-giving, it’s a nice way to say thank you for the business and something for you to remember them by. But some agents think that it takes away from the integrity of their service, and they point to how few other professionals give a gift after providing a service.
Hire the person you think will do the best job for you, whether they promise a gift or not, and don’t expect a gift when you close. And if you get one, just appreciate that not every agent gives one to every client, and your agent probably put some thought into what they gave you!
Hopefully this helps you understand when you hear different opinions from different agents. Just know that there’s not always one way of doing things, or even a “right” or “wrong” approach to many aspects of helping someone buy or sell a house. But there’s one thing you can know for certain…
No matter where an agent stands on any of these ten topics, they all agree on one thing—they’ll do whatever it takes to get the best results for their client, in the manner they believe they can do it best.