Tricks realtors use to sell homes

You won’t believe some of the psychological tricks some agents use to move houses these days

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From the February/March 2015 issue of the magazine.

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(Getty Images / Henrik Sorensen)

(Getty Images / Henrik Sorensen)

Imagine buying your first home at the height of the Canadian housing market. That’s the position Judy Winters found herself in a few years ago after a tumultuous break-up. With a strong desire for a fresh start, this web editor became determined to buy a dog-friendly condo in a sought-after building in Toronto’s west-end High Park area. Unfortunately, units in the building rarely went on the market and were snapped up in a matter of days when they did, usually for well over asking. Yet Winters (we’ve changed her name to protect her privacy) not only got one—despite multiple competing offers—but her winning bid was $11,000 less than the next offer. Her secret weapon? A realtor who understood the power of persuasion.

As Winters discovered, hiring a realtor who knows how to use the psychology of sales can really pay off. But how do you find an agent who understands how to use the art of negotiation, who can salvage a potentially sour deal, apply pressure and use other successful strategies to increase your sale price? Because let’s face it: that commission is big, and you want to make sure it gets you the best advice when buying or selling your most valuable asset.

By talking to realtors, experienced home buyers, and veteran sellers we’ve compiled a list of the psychological tips and tricks realtors use to get deals done. While these methods can save (or make) you money, some are dodgy, and a few are downright illegal. The key is to find a realtor who can effectively use psychology without crossing ethical lines. Read on to learn how to identify a winning agent who will have your back.

When you’re a buyer

Don’t ask, don’t tell. Shortly after Navia Gordon was hired permanently at Alberta’s Ministry of Justice, the Calgary criminal lawyer took the plunge and bought her first condo (we changed her name to protect her privacy). Within days she found the perfect place. The list price was $384,000, and the unit seemed to have it all: a spacious bedroom, separate den, a modern kitchen with a workable island. It was close to transit in a neighbourhood popular with the urban crowd. But right beneath the unit’s living room window was a scar of train tracks. Concerned, she asked her realtor if the passing train traffic was loud. Without missing a beat the realtor replied: “Just don’t open the windows.”

While caveat emptor—buyer beware—applies to every real estate sale, it shouldn’t be used to justify unethical or even illegal behaviour. Unfortunately, in a survey conducted by Inman, a U.S.-based trade magazine for realtors, 60% of respondents felt that withholding critical information is a common occurrence.

Eileen Laswell prides herself on providing her clients full disclosure, even if that means actively convincing buyers to walk away from a deal. Just last year, the north Toronto realtor talked a client out of buying a family home listed at just under $1 million. From the third-storey bedroom she could see the neighbouring home’s roof. “I was struck by how many vents there were,” says Laswell, “and not professionally installed vents, but hacked-out holes with pipes stuffed through.” Concerned, she called the listing realtor. “I was told the neighbours were renovating, but I’ve never seen a renovation that required tinfoil on the windows.”

Laswell immediately told her client to walk away. “He was heartbroken because he loved the home, but the impact of living beside an active grow-op would be negative on both his family and the home’s future appreciation.”

Legally speaking, realtors cannot be held responsible for undisclosed or unknown issues that may impact a home’s value, explains Laswell. As a result, an attitude of “don’t ask, don’t know, don’t tell” has developed within the profession.

Glossing over big costs. Another ploy is to casually minimize the impact of a higher-priced home. If a house is $30,000 over your budget, an agent might say, “It’s only an extra $100 per month.”

Others imply it’s a breeze to earn income from your home: “It would be so easy to put in a kitchen and rent it out.” Of course, it wouldn’t be easy at all: there’s the renovation costs, permits, and a host of potential pitfalls for homeowners who become landlords. If there’s already a rental unit in the home, the realtor may exaggerate what you can charge in rent: “You’ll easily get $1,500 a month,” she might say, even if it’s a barely finished basement apartment with seven-foot ceilings.

To protect yourself, do your own due diligence. Call the city to verify taxes, for example, and talk to the local police station to get an overview of the neighbourhood crime rates. If you expect to add a rental unit, check Kijiji.ca for rates in the neighbourhood.

The upsell. When newlyweds Doug and Tanya Anderson went looking for a place to call home, their budget was $450,000. “But we found the houses needed quite a lot of work,” recalls Doug (we’ve changed their names), who voiced his concern to their realtor. That’s when the homes started getting a lot nicer—and the list price jumped by $50,000 or more. “Our realtor was upfront about this,” recalls Doug, “but when we expressed concern over the price, she’d say, ‘Well, we’re here now, we might as well take a look.’”

Almost every realtor uses the upsell—but it’s not just about a bigger commission. “Buyers are often unrealistic about what their budget can buy,” explained one realtor, “so you have to show them what an extra $50,000 gets.” But what’s the consequence? For the realtor, that extra $50,000 is an additional $930 to $1,250 in commission. For you, it means an extra $180 or more per month towards your mortgage.

The only remedy? Refuse to step foot inside any house that’s listed above your maximum budget.

The pressure cooker. Realtors know emotions help get sales—and good realtors will use this to gain the advantage. It’s how Laswell was able to secure her client a sought-after townhome in Burlington, Ont., last year. Immediately after the property was publicly listed, Laswell’s client made an offer with a tight deadline. “I advised her to give the sellers a short, four-hour window to either accept or reject the offer,” says Laswell. “I wanted to crank up the urgency so the seller would feel compelled to make a decision.” It worked. Laswell’s client bought the townhome that day and—despite a number of scheduled viewings by other potential buyers—at a price just a bit below market value.

Be warned: this tactic can also be used against you. Buyers often preview 15 to 20 houses before they buy, and if this number starts to creep up some realtors will respond by turning up the pressure. Have you ever arrived at a house only to bump into another potential buyer? While this can occur by accident, unethical agents will collaborate with colleagues to intentionally double-book viewings to create a false sense of urgency. Some will even surreptitiously ask a friend or colleague to pretend to be interested in the property you happen to be viewing.

Worse yet is when realtors collaborate to create a false bidding war by notifying the listing brokerage of an impending offer, even though there is no buyer. The Ontario government took aim at this deceptive practice with a new law last year: it prevents unsavoury agents from trying to drive up a home’s selling price or motivating a buyer to pull the trigger on a purchase. Agents in any province should receive a written warning, a fine, or have their license revoked if they’re caught faking bids, but proof is hard to establish.

When you’re the seller

The bitter pill. There’s an iconic scene in the movie The Matrix where the lead character, Neo, must choose between the blue pill and the red pill. The blue represents the blissful ignorance of illusion, while the red represents the painful truth of reality. The price you think your home should sell for is the blue pill, but your realtor can use several strategies to make you swallow the red one.

For instance, an agent may agree to list your home at a higher price, but only if you agree to drop that price within a specified period (usually in 15-day increments). A realtor who uses this technique may actually be looking out for your best interest, explains Damian Lister, a realtor in Etobicoke, Ont. The alternative is to simply not work with a client who refuses to consider a price drop. “There’s no point wasting their time or mine.” Agreeing on a plan to reduce the price gradually helps build rapport and trust with clients who may be stuck on a number, Lister says.

But some agents will tread into unethical territory by using a staggered bids strategy. This is how it works: after the first few viewings your realtor calls to say a potential buyer has made an offer, but it’s $100,000 lower than your list price. You reject it without hesitation. A few days later, the realtor calls again: another buyer wants to put in an offer for $75,000 less than your asking price. It’s still a low-ball offer, but this time you take a little longer to reject it. Wait a few more days and your realtor will phone one last time. This time he’s holding a formal bid. Even though it’s $50,000 below your list price, it doesn’t sting because you were already psychologically massaged into lowering your expectations. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this practice—if the first two bids were real. But realtors have been known to fabricate staggered bids to convince you that a bad offer is actually a good deal.

Always ask to see an offer in writing. Just be aware that some buyers won’t spend an hour or two filling out formal paperwork if there’s a good chance their offer will be rejected. If nothing is in writing, ask your agent for more details: What type of closing is the buyer looking for? Are there any conditions? Any information that can verify whether or not a buyer actually exists will help you assess whether the offer is legitimate. Keep in mind that if legitimate buyers keep suggesting your home is worth less, you may have to swallow that red pill.

The pick-up. Unethical agents may have other motives for listing your home, even if they know it’s overpriced. They may just be looking to pick up unrepresented buyers—people who come to your home without a realtor. To do this, the agent will set up one or more open houses and charge you a “marketing fee.” Typically ranging from $50 to $500, this fee will cover any out-of-pocket expenses associated with listing your home. While these costs are legitimate, the vast majority of realtors don’t pass them on to their clients because they’re considered the cost of doing business. However, if your realtor isn’t convinced your overpriced home will sell, she may ask you to pay the expenses up front while she uses your home to pick up new business from active buyers.

Twice as nice. Michael Drukarsh knew Sarah was the one shortly after meeting her—and Sarah knew they needed to move from Michael’s two-bedroom condo in Toronto’s Flemingdon Park. The couple were thrilled when their realtor, Debra Edwards, soon called to say there was an offer, which they accepted.

But before the paperwork was finalized, another viewing request came in. Michael and Sarah didn’t know what to do, so they called Edwards for advice. She advised them to agree to the new viewing request. A few hours later, the couple was curled up on the couch, excitedly talking about the future, when the phone rang. “The deal’s fallen through,” explained Edwards. It was 11 p.m. and the buyers had just pulled out because they couldn’t get financing. “We went numb,” says Michael. But Edwards didn’t. She got on the phone to the buyer who had arranged the last-minute viewing and convinced him to put in an offer. “Within 24 hours, she’d turned it around,” recalls Michael, who signed the final sale documents the very next day.

Many realtors on both the buying and selling side will reject viewing requests once they have a registered offer in hand. But that’s a rookie mistake, says Lister. An offer is a signal that a buyer is seriously interested, but until all conditions have been met or waived the sale isn’t complete. That means your realtor should continue to actively promote your listing until the deal is finalized. Just make sure that any would-be latecomers know there’s a conditional offer already in play.

The double-dip. When Michael first listed his North Toronto condo, he couldn’t understand why the realtor appeared to do everything in her power not to sell the condo. “She refused to do open houses because she said they were useless,” he recalls. There were multiple spelling mistakes in the listing she wrote, and she refused to re-take the photos to exclude the cat. “That one picture alone shut down 80% of the market who are either allergic or don’t like the smell of cats.” After six painful months, Michael terminated the relationship and hired another realtor who easily sold his condo in less than a week.

So why would a realtor work at not selling a home? Because it’s one of the simplest ways to double-dip in the commission pool. A double-dipper’s goal is to postpone any interest from the general population—the 92% of house hunters who use the Internet to look for listings—so he can find his own buyer. That way the agent represents both the seller and the buyer, and effectively doubles his commission. This tactic is primarily used by agents who dominate a particular neighbourhood or condo-building, and who think there’s a good chance of attracting a buyer on his own without MLS. On the sale of a $350,000 condo, double-dipping could be the difference between a commission of $8,750 and $17,500.

Another way unethical agents try to double-dip is by ignoring viewing requests. If your realtor can’t seem to book a viewing for a particular house, or the appointment is always cancelled at the last minute, you may have come across a double-dipper. The listing realtor may be thwarting your agent in the hope you’ll get frustrated and contact them directly, without your agent. They’ll then try and represent you in the deal and collect both commissions.

This is definitely bad behaviour and realtors caught poaching clients could end up before their ethics board, where punishment can include a written warning, a fine, or in extreme cases even a revoked license. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should automatically be suspicious of “dual-agency”—the term used to describe when a realtor or brokerage represents both the seller and the buyer. You just want to be sure that what prompted the situation wasn’t a realtor actively dissuading interested buyers in order to double-dip.

When you list your home, ask your realtor to specifically describe their marketing plan, and press them on details. Who will take the photos that will be used on MLS.ca, and how will viewing requests be handled? Remember, you’re in charge, so you should have the ultimate say in how your home will be promoted and when buyers can view the property.

Stacking the deck. Chester Karass, one of the most famous business negotiation experts in North America, once stated: “In business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”

Some listing agents will add phrases like “make an offer,” or “no showings without a buyer’s offer” to their listings. They understand that even a low-ball bid starts a dialogue that can get everyone closer to a done deal. Nothing wrong with that. The problem is when unethical realtors use this strategy to “stack the deck,” or create an easy sell for the highest bid so it benefits them or someone they know.

Laswell was faced with this situation when she and her client chose to bid on a home in Toronto’s west-end Humewood area. Laswell knew the seller anticipated a bidding war: the home was underpriced and the phrase “motivated seller” dominated the listing’s comment section. Still, Laswell did her due diligence. She analyzed the neighbourhood and priced out similar homes. From this information she and her client agreed to go in with an offer that was $250,000 over the asking price. So Laswell was more than a bit surprised to learn that out of seven offers, they didn’t win—that is until she found out that the winning bid was from the listing agent’s sister. Laswell believes the listing agent acted unethically by trying to keep offers artificially low with the “motivated seller” phrase. The agent may have even acted illegally by disclosing confidential bid information to her sister. “How coincidental that her winning offer was only $3,000 more than ours?”

Sadly, realtors across the country are frequently convicted of licensing infractions. Remember that survey of realtors by the U.S. trade magazine? Well, 70% of those realtors say that home buyers and sellers are “kept in the dark” when it comes to ethical infractions, licensing violations and ongoing investigations. In Canada, real estate boards have tried to make this process more transparent with timely updates of charges and convictions on their websites. Still, it’s doubtful that all but the most serious offences are being thwarted.

Fortunately, many great real estate deals have nothing to do with unethical or illegal conduct. Remember Judy Winters? She won a bidding war with a lower-priced offer because her realtor understood the power of psychology. As soon as the condo went on the market, Winters’ agent called her to explain his plan. “He wanted me to be physically present for the offer presentation,” she recalls. Turns out the sellers had just had a baby and empathized with Winters’ post-breakup plight. Because of the personal touch—all orchestrated by the realtor—Winters won the deal and got the fresh start she needed.

 

 

40 comments on “Tricks realtors use to sell homes

  1. The Marketing Fee is a fee charged to the Co-operating Brokerage (The Buyer’s Agent), not the Vendor of the property.

    The following section, make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

    The pick-up. Unethical agents may have other motives for listing your home, even if they know it’s overpriced. They may just be looking to pick up unrepresented buyers—people who come to your home without a realtor. To do this, the agent will set up one or more open houses and charge you a “marketing fee.” Typically ranging from $50 to $500, this fee will cover any out-of-pocket expenses associated with listing your home. While these costs are legitimate, the vast majority of realtors don’t pass them on to their clients because they’re considered the cost of doing business. However, if your realtor isn’t convinced your overpriced home will sell, she may ask you to pay the expenses up front while she uses your home to pick up new business from active buyers.

    Any clarification on what you actually meant and were trying to say would be great.

    Reply

  2. It is very obvious that MoneySense does not like professional realtors. Articles that blanket all agents as money mongers and manipulators has left a negative impact against me a professional realtor. I would love to see MoneySense interview an agent/brokerage that always has its clients best interests at hand. A realtor that takes the Realtor Code of Ethics seriously. My most recent client a seller is having some difficulty selling her home because of foundation issue. She purchased her home privately from a seller who did not disclose the problem and she did not know to ask for disclosure. I suggest that you interview a realtor and find out how we protect and serve our buyers and seller instead of writing articles about how we trick the public. Who did you interview to get that information. I always felt that MoneySense was a really good Canadian content magazine and have purchased subscriptions for
    myself, my children and grandchildren. This is the last year of all of those Subscriptions.

    Reply

    • Hi Sylvia: Thank you for posting.
      Just to be clear: MoneySense has nothing against realtors, or lawyers, or certified financial planners—all professions we’ve profiled in articles where we’ve touched on ethics and how to negotiate fees.
      That said, I don’t believe this article paints all realtors in a negative light. In fact, I was quite pleased to be able to highlight the ethical integrity and exceptional industry knowledge that Eileen Laswell, Debra Edwards and Damian Lister—all professional realtors—offered their clients. And they are not alone.
      My aim was to offer examples of poor behaviour so that home buyers and sellers are armed with information—information they could use to asses the qualifications and expertise of their realtor.
      Remember: Just because there’s a report on medical malpractice, doesn’t mean every doctor is a bad apple.

      Reply

      • I agree with you. From a consumer’s perspective the article have been more than generous with the positives. The funny thing with ethics is that if you convince yourself for long enough, you start to believe what you are doing is right. In insurance, they have bi-weekly meetings designed to cheer you up and tell you what you are doing is right. If I needed to be convinced twice weekly what I’m doing is OK, I really doubt if that is true.

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        • “In insurance, they have bi-weekly meetings… if I need to be convinced twice a week…” blanket statement, clearly don’t know the meaning of bi-weekly and without insurance you can’t get a mortgage.

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    • Realtors fees are so high that dishonest and lazy individuals are attracted to this job because they can use their position to make so much money. My neighbor yesterday was advised to take the first offer he received on the very first day their property was for sale. The realtor was so driven to grab his fee that he told our friends that they should jump at the first offer. The realtor then cancelled the open house today. It’s fairly obvious that the scum realtor just wanted to get his incredibly high fee and still do almost nothing to earn it. When is it ever ok for a regular person to pay a realtor or anyone else $40-50,000 + when they do almost nothing to earn it? Realtors are crooks. My last house was bought by the daughter of a friend of the realtor that listed our house. The realtor didn’t disclose the relationship until after we’d been pursuaded to accept the buyers low offer! DON’T trust a realtor. They are only paid when you buy or when you sell. They have so little interest in what you need that they just want to close the deal as fast as they can.

      Reply

      • Realtors (dime a dozen) Probate Lawyers, (lawyers in general), FUNERAL HOMES, and insurance and financial advisors, all riding on the backs of hard working people, I sold the COMFREE WAY, who know your home best , only you, realtors do nothing, now days they don’t even pick you up to show you around, they meet you, they know very little about the home their showing etc. Comfree helps you with the paper work and act as a go between the buyer and sellers on private deals, (although if an MLS steps in they suggest to offer a finders fee but its up to you what price really they offer 24/7 customer service, We saved commisiion and didn’t have to give away money to a third party for doing nothing really.

        Reply

    • I disagree with you Sylvia. First off I don’t feel that is the message this article was conveying BUT having said that I have bought and sold numerous houses each time with different Realtors and they ALL used various tactics listed above. The last house I sold I was so sick of the Realtors games that I changed gears and sold privately with Property Guys without the drama and outrageous fees. Now because of this positive experience I will purchase privately as well.

      Reply

  3. Loved the article! Im about to sell my place and purchase new one in Vancouver, and I intend to do so on my own. There is such a ridiculous monopoly with the MLS website, you can’t advertise without a realtor. When visiting new places, almost all my interactions with realtors were negative. Some just horribly pushy, others plain out lied to my face, trying to get my business. Sylvia, Im sure there are good honest realtors out there, but a system build entirely on commissions is a system doomed to corrupt the realtors and fail, Especially with such ridiculously high commissions. It’s too easy for the realtors to keep people in the dark when then have all the info and then benefit from keeping a party in the dark. Cant wait for a change to this ridiculous system.

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  4. Our condo has been on the market for 6 weeks and only one showing. Two other showings were scheduled and cancelled. Our realtor says we are priced to high. Condos sold in our building (same size as ours) sold for 355, 323, 300). Realtor says we should list at $335 which is a $15K drop for us. But what if we still don’t sell? And if we take it off the market and relist next year can we list higher than $335?

    Reply

  5. disgraceful article attitude and scare tactics. There are so many flaws I would not even know where to begin and I agree it is set to defame realtors and scare people. It lacks knowledge, In GTA there are 26,000 of us, just like there are hundreds or thousands of doctors, politicians. car mechanics and magazine writers, majority are good and few bad apples exists. Yest this article suggests it is the other way around and that we exist to dupe clients. That simply does not make sense because like all other people at work we get happy from doing a good job at the end of day. Some examples suggested i have not witnessed in 15 years I work. Others like sitting on a listing to double dip show the person that came up with it as an idea and reason has no knowledge of real estate and that listing agent can earn same or more by selling to another realtor like normal custom and taking buyer client elsewhere, there are thousands of choices out there, to sit on a property would be a silly move that usually means less money for realtor because seller wants a cut of “double dipping” and usually is the one to benefit in many ways not realtor. Like dealing with buyer that has no representation (good for seller). A lot of nonsense written here in this article.

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    • Thanks so much for the information. I am newly divorced and selling my home along with 3 other land properties. This will be the first time I have sold without anyone to “bounce the deal” off of. I have always been the one to sell our former homes. Loved seeing some of my suspicions in print. Having a dishonest realtor is like sending the fox to guard the hen house. Conflict of interest. Remember, a realtor does not work for you. They work for themselves.

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      • If your REALTOR® doesn’t work for you, then fire them and hire a REALTOR® you believe will work for you. There are many out there who genuinely put their clients interests above their own; and, that’s what they are supposed to do. For a reputable REALTOR® working in a reputable brokerage, it’s really just as simple as that.

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        • Yes, firing and hiring realtors. The scale is tipped towards unprofessional, unethical, lazy, clueless and greedy real estate agents. Trying to find the one out of countless others who is the shining beacon of the opposite of my descriptors is time consuming and frustrating. It’s no wonder many buyers and sellers are paranoid and skeptical of real estate agents. The negatives associated with that career have been earned by the many bad apples, not the few. It doesn’t come out of thin air. Most of us common folk want to trust, rely on and feel favorable towards agents but the agents keep proving the negative experiences and reputation rather than building a new era of positive outcomes.

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          • I am so glad their are new type companies out that help you sell or BUY on your own commission free, like COMFREE, or the 1 or 2% commission realty companies, because this 7% on the first 100k and 3% on remainder is JUST HIWAY ROBBERY, don’t care if realtors don’t get a salary, get a real job, , it is outrageous. I only wish someday that some kind of law comes in on the Realtor Association to curb them, they are the ones like the oil companies fudging the markets.

        • No there aren’t any in the bigger cities Cheryl. If there are any nice ones they’ve probably gone to the wall. The world of realtors is a sewer populated by crooks in suits who just want to close the deal so that they can take $10,000’s from people for little or no work done. When did you ever pay $40,000+ to someone with getting a car or truck or boat for your money. That’s highway robbery, and the realtors are the thieves

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    • Why are you so defensive? There are plenty of examples of good REA work in this article. Funny you didn’t see that. Considering this article is about the tricks used to sell homes, I was expecting mostly negative things to watch out for while I sell and buy homes–but was pleasantly surprised for the positive pieces in addition. It is clearly meant to educate consumers on what to expect from someone you’ll be paying thousands of dollars to–and what to watch out for. If you have nothing to hide, this article hasn’t done any harm to you. If you are doing any of these things, then I could see how you would be so angry because now it shouldn’t be so easy for you to get away with it. I think you should be more worried about your writing and reading skills than what one article is saying about REAs. You clearly aren’t taking into account that sellers almost always are required to sign a exclusive right to list agreement, tying them to that realtor for at least 6 months, sometimes up to a year. The same can be said for buyers–its more and more common for a REA to require a contract of 6 months or more for buying a house–firing your agent isn’t that simple! Again…if REAs don’t do any of these things, then no harm has been done. The truth is, these things do happen, and everyone has a right to be warned about potential games that may be played with their most valuable asset.

      Reply

  6. I have a comment….how about “Tricks the Journalists Use to Make you think they know what they are talking about.” Lame article.

    Reply

    • Great comment!

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    • There are too many examples of scummy crooked realtors out there for you to label this article as lame. Either you’re a realtor or associated to a realtor, but you’ve neglected to state that.

      Reply

      • Hi Justin,
        Thanks for your comments. As the author of this article, my intention was to provide a glimpse into how less-than-ideal realtors operate in the world of Canadian real estate buying and selling. Yes. There are realtors out there that operate this way. Yes. This type of behaviour is horrendous. But I feel it necessary to point out that not all realtors operate this way. The realtors I interviewed, for example, would never think of operating in unethical and deceptive ways. They treat their clients, their business and the industry with respect. Does this mean they try and get the best deal for their buyer or seller? Of course. But they use proven methods — such as staging, bidding wars or clean offers — to obtain results.

        These days, I find there’s a lot of realtor-bashing…and throwing all realtors into one bushel. This simply is not the case with this profession. Like any profession — realtor, lawyer, doctor, financial advisor, insurance advisor, cellphone salesperson, home decorator, to name but a few — there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to conduct business. Finding a good realtor that will represent you in the real estate transaction using honesty and integrity is the aim. With this article, I had hoped to arm readers with information on less-than-ethical tactics, so they could spot the less-than-ethical realtors, and head running to the hills for the experience and expertise of a professional real estate sales person.

        Of course, there is always another option: Use a For-Sale-By-Owner tactic. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this strategy and, if you’re really unclear as to who the good agents are (and there are many) this is one way to eliminate this uncertainty.

        Hope that helps.

        Romana

        Reply

  7. Good to see all these tactics described.
    Unfortunately the most common is not mentioned here- intention of quick sell/buy. I understand that some clients can have unrealistic expectations, but many agents pick only the low hanging fruit even within those good- houses which are being sold under the expected price, buyers who don’t have to many requirements. It should be the law, that realtor cannot refuse a client.

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  8. I agree that articles such as this promote the realtors in a negative light. It’s a good thing to be aware of unethical practices, but quoting real-time cases brings it to a personal level. The effect this has on people like me is sheer paranoia. Simply making the public aware of underhanded methods might be a better way.

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  9. I just got my license and I already feel like I have been potrayed as a scam artist every occupation will have good and bad after readng this article, I feel doomed and judged . I take pride in being ethical and honest I certainly do not want to be judged based on some unethical people. They are everywhere not just real estate

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  10. It’s not this article (which is dead on) giving realtors a bad name – it’s the realtors who have done it to themselves. Many of my friends and myself have sworn never to use an agent again due to manipulative, dishonest tactics and outright laziness and greed. This comes from our own hard earned experience, not from one magazine article. Realtors used to be of help and service. Now they have usurped the pariah position from lawyers.

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    • I totally agree with Mary’s comment on September 18, 2015. My experience as a seller more than once in 2015 and as a buyer in 2016 has been absolutely horrible from rude, nasty agent refusing to write my offer after showing the property and receiving my prequal letter because I was late to meet him. I do understand and respect an agents time. I am from out of town and staying in a hotel ready to buy, cash in hand. I got lost on the way to meet him and called to let him know what happened while in route. I got a train at the RR crossing then there was a slow zone in a school zone on the same street. I called again (still no answer.) I arrived at 1:40 that is 40 minutes late after calling twice on the way. Then, I called a third time after I arrived at the home and I stated, on his voicemail (since, he was ignoring my calls) “You must have went back to the office I am on my way there.” He called me back and yelled at me for wasting his time and said I am not working with you and no I will not write the contact. I apologised over and over stating it was not intentional I am unfamiliar with the area and got the train and the school zone. I called and called to let you know what was happening, please forgive me…blah blah. He would not accept my apologies.

      I arrived at the office 20 minutes later, at 2:00PM. Therefore, I was at the home at 1:40PM and then at his office by 2:00PM after missing him. He said “I waited 40 minutes ( and refused to answer my calls during that 40 minutes). I assume he was leaving when I was coming down the street because, I arrived at 1:40. Long story I was at his office by 2:00PM he had only just arrived there himself.

      He his in the back of the office. I started crying and had to beg someone in the office to write my offer and present it. Anyone. I understand his anger at having been left waiting. I don’t blame him for being upset but, he was very unprofessional in the way he handled it and spoke to me. Especially, since I arrived at his office moments after he did. He was not with a client nor on the way to a closing. He simply hid in the office and refused to assist me by completing the offer to purchase.

      He had spoken to my lender earlier and he received another pre qual letter in a lower amount than I was qualified for in order, to match our offer. He actually, refused to give that letter to the agent in his office who offered to help me write the offer. Drama, drama, so unnecessary and so unprofessional and arrogant. His 3% half of the commission is almost $7000. I know it’s not a million but, he must have really enjoyed telling me off to blow off that commission. Now I believe, if my offer is accepted. He will be splitting the 3% commission with the agent in his office while simultaneously refusing to assist in the purchase. Do you think this is fair?
      My lender doesn’t like it. I hate real estate agents.

      Reply

  11. I came across your article and I noticed that you interchange the words agents and realtors

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  12. This just goes to show that landsharks do exsist***Buyers & Sellers Beware?***Arm yourself with all the information you can before during and after you buy or sell before its too late.

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  13. i have never met a more corrupt occupation than realestate sellers they should all be prosecuted

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  14. My realtor came in to the house, took out his Iphone and took a bunch of pictures. I was kind of upset, knowing how much we pay them commission. However minutes later on my printer he printed the feature sheet. It actually looked awesome, wouldve never guessed it came from his Iphone. I ended up using the same app, Yocaza feature sheets, for my open house.

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  15. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing troubles with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anyone else getting identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!|

    http://www.g2Tt4ccn6e.com/g2Tt4ccn6e

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  16. yup I dont trust many agents I always feel like Im being screwed somehow.I went to sell my parents house the agent had a caravan and said that all agents will come see it (he omitted just his real estate co,)suddenly he dsaid that he got a price of 199,00.well a friend of the family had put it on sale for that 10 yrs earlier before the granite,bamboo floors,new doors and windows.so I asked him for comparables for the last year and sold prices,He got mad and asked me why I didnt trust him and I said its his job to show me how they got to this price.next day he sent me a cancelled contract and said that we were too picky and when we were looking at a home with a 400ft basement,that I was supposed to move into was too small I should just get over it .I reported him to real estate board and reco

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  17. After an agent’s contract with the vendor is finished, are they allowed to “switch sides” and represent a known interested buyer?

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  18. Personally I have had both positive and negative experiences with agents. I really do think that if you do your research, have a REALISTIC price in mind and know how to present your house best to sell it, you can sell your house without an agent. My wife and I were first time sellers last year and took a chance listing with Prelist, thinking we would try it and then list with an agent if we had no bites after a few weeks, and our house sold in just over a week. It was completely free, we never ran into issues and we had complete control over the entire process. It is worth checking out if you were thinking of trying to list yourself.

    https://www.prelist.org

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    • I just checked out Prelist.org! Very nice site. I am thinking of selling my house, and am going to try listing on Prelist first! I have had good luck with agents in the past, but if I can save on realtor fees and do it myself it’s worth a try! Thanks for the link.

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  19. In December 2013 I was approached by a licensed Calgary Realtor to purchase land that was in the process of subdivision. He chose the 8 acre parcel and give a 10% deposit of $19K. He drew up an agreement with stages of repayment of the total $190K. He is a ten plus year realtor and not as fair as you would want. He tried to hire landscapers prior to obtaining title for the land. I stopped the work. In August of 2014 he skipped meetings and instalments and met in mid August 2014 at a coffee shop and said I want out of the deal.
    I asked twice in emails for the parties involved and for a letter in writing that he wished to withdraw. I have not refunded the deposit and he is commencing to sue me.
    What options do I have as its now 2016 and I still do not have paperwork answering my requests for termination and parties involved. He was the only one at at the meetings and he was buying the land for himself and others that I don’t know as yet.

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  20. In the “Stacking the deck” scenario, where the Realtor’s sister’s bid was $3,000 more than your client’s, check out our case, Our Realtor (our selling agent) offered us lower commission if they brought a buyer. The buyer they brought submitted an original bid followed shortly by a second slightly higher bid. The second bid was still several thousand $$ less than anyone else but after adding back in our agent’s reduced commission for bringing a buyer, this buyer was $150 (that’s one hundred and fifty dollars) over any one else. I can’t but believe our selling agent disclosed what were in the other bids and coached their buyer on a winning bid. The margin is too small to be coincidence. So our agent ends up double ending. Oh and only the buyer our agent brought was invited to improve their bid, no one else. Talk about conflict of interest and stacking the deck to win.

    Others have suggested firing a Realtor. You can’t do that, most contracts have a term, you can’t fire them and you can’t go use another agent without compensating the first agent.

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  21. This article and/or writer grossly and inaccurately describes untalented and unethical agents as an industry standard. It does little to inform consumers of best practices by talented, ethical agents who champion consumer interests in every single transaction. The writing is replete with uninformed, recklessly sweeping generalizations questionably supported with quotes and sources. I suspect it was intended to play into the worst fears of consumers and thereby attract readers. That said, it’s with deep irony this article brings to news reporting the same absent acumen it seeks to demonize among real estate professionals. Indeed, the most valuable read it offers is insight into the writer’s dark lens and paradoxical ability to report bright truths when shrouded in such heavy shade.

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  22. my realator has my property in the wrong place in in the satlelite on virtual tour so any one looking to see were i am on the map will think im some were els and he has me on a ontario listing instead of were i live

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