[Author – Tim ODwyer]
On sale now at a newsagency near you are copies of the February edition of Australian Property Investor with a fascinating feature article, TRUST ME – I’M A REAL ESTATE AGENT.
I write regularly for API and, although this article is not one of mine, I love the topical introduction: “Real estate agents get a very bad rap. So what tricks do they really get up to?”
This article was written in response to reader demand, so author Michaela Ryan pulls no punches when she explains, “Ultimately a real estate agent is a salesperson.” Even the most ethical agents, she suggests, have “a whole bag of tricks” to draw on to secure listings then to sell properties. Some “tricks” are less legitimate than others, so her exposé mostly refers to agents’ “tactics” – directed not only to buyers but also to sellers.
My mate Michaela reveals what is often behind agents’ expressions like these used on buyers: “there’s another offer,” “expecting an offer,” “a lot of interest”, “a second inspection”, “the vendors won’t accept that” and “at this stage .”. She warns also about auction tactics, and gives some scary and true examples of bait-pricing:
*Quoted price “$330,000 +” (actual sale price $366,500)
*Quoted price “$410,000 – $450,000” (actual sale price $465,000)
*Quoted price “$360,000 – $400,000” (actual sale price $435,000)
*Quoted price “$350,000+ ” (actual sale price $416,500)
*Quoted price “$360,000 – $400,000” (actual sale price $501,000!)
Then there are tactics “used with vendors.” These include conditioning, paid newspaper advertising and “a sale at any price”. If you are a seller, you’ll find great tips on how to choose agents, how to “keep them on the ball” and ten top questions to put to agents wanting your business. No 1 is: “How long have you been working in this area?” No 10 is: “Do you have a list of recent vendors I can speak to?
If you aren’t happy with how an agent treated you – whether as buyer or seller – complain to the Real Estate Institute and to Fair Trading.
Lots of luck in those directions. My preference is for API’s final piece of advice: “If you’ve been left out of pocket, and it was the agent’s fault, seek legal advice…”