How an Agent Can Sabotage Your Home Sale…

…and you’ll never know.

Question: When is the most important time for a new listing?

Answer: When it first goes on the market. When buyers and their agents are scouring the internet and the streets for something new. When excitement is highest.

What is the reality? For a variety of reasons, the listing agent can make it difficult to show the house. Usually, it’s lack of attention to detail, not a deliberate sabotage. Many agents just don’t feel a sense of urgency because they know that the house will sell eventually.

Sellers don’t usually have any idea that this is happening. They also don’t know that buyers and their agents are often frustrated and angry by the time they finally get in to see the property — not the best frame of mind to be looking at a house.

  • The sign goes up, but the listing agent hasn’t turned the paperwork in to the office staff, so the office not only has no record of the listing, but doesn’t know who the listing agent is. Buyer drives by, calls the office and gets nowhere.
  • The listing appears in the Multiple Listing Service (called MRIS in our area) as available, but when the buyer and agent get there, the lockbox isn’t on yet. A call to the listing agent reveals that the agent hasn’t gotten around to it yet. The buyers then have to reschedule to come out a second time – and to hope that the box will be on when the listing agent says it will be.
  • Showing instructions indicate “Call agent to make showing arrangements”, but the agent doesn’t return the call. Here is an actual example of showing instructions to the Buyers Agent. Before showing, the buyers agent should “Call Office, Call Lister, Lockbox Front Door, Restricted Times”. The buyers agent calls office – who has never heard of the listing. Buyers agent calls Listing Agent, leaves message. Window for showing comes and goes, buyer cancels appointment to see property. Buyer tries to reschedule, but buyers agent can’t get anyone with whom to make the appointment. After two or three tries, they finally get in or give up entirely.

I wish I could say that this is rare, or that only a few agents do this consistently.However, the reality is that this happens with such regularity that buyers agents can be heard on the phone with listing agents saying, Is it really available? Is the lockbox there yet? Am I going to have any problems getting in? I heard an agent on the phone just the other day, practically shouting at the listing agent, You know, if it says AVAILABLE in the MLS, it’s supposed to be available!

If you were buying a car and the sales person said he was going to get the keys so you could take a test drive, but he never came back with those keys, you’d finally move on to another dealership, wouldn’t you?

Your listing agent’s credibility transfers to you and your property. If the lies start with showing the property, the buyer and the buyer’s agent start off wondering what other problems they will encounter. The way a transaction starts is often a clue to how the contract will go – the rocky road to settlement.

It’s simple to avoid the sabotage. Insist that, by the time the sign goes up and the listing goes into the MLS, everything is in place and ready-to-go. The agent shouldn’t get in the way of selling the house. They should strive to make sure that buyer’s agents LIKE writing offers on their listings by being honest in the marketing and in the MLS description.

(c) 2006 Susan Pruden

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