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How to Beat Those Who Practice 'Agent-agency'

by Carla Cross

Article img 1 Carla Cross

Are you tired of losing to agents who practice "agent-agency?" The agent-agency strategy is difficult to combat. 

These agents represent themselves, not the buyer or seller. They take listings at any price and by any means. When no one shows it, they tell the seller "nothing is selling in your area." Then they wait until the seller is desperate to get a price reduction. 

After much anguish, either the listing sells at a much lower price, or the seller gets disgusted and goes somewhere else. It works enough of the time that these unscrupulous agents just keep doing it.

You don't want to be one of those manipulative agents. You can absolutely get that listing — priced right — even when you're up against a "gorilla" agent who's practicing agent-agency. And here's how.

Don't Sellers Deserve "Seller Representation?"

Client-based representation for sellers means representing the best interests of the seller. What are the best interests of the seller? According to thousands surveyed byConsumer Reports, sellers are satisfied when:
1. The listing is sold quickly.
2. The listing is sold for close to listed price.

Agent-agency practice does not put these two goals first. Agent-agency means you are listing properties for what you think are your best interests, not the seller's. What are those best interests?

1. These agents believe any listing is better than none. Their selfishness comes first. Does your doctor give you the medicine you want because, if he doesn't, someone else will? Doctors who do are guilty of malpractice.
2. These agents believe they can get the price down later and want to control the property themselves from the beginning. This self-serving tactic costs the seller thousands in proceeds because shopworn properties (on the market a long time) result in much lower selling prices. Just look at the sale racks at clothing stores – or your MLS statistics.
3. They want to use the property as "bait and switch." Agents know that signs and ads, as well as online marketing, bring calls. They know the potential buyer won't buy that over-priced property, so they always have other right-priced properties in mind to switch them to. Doesn't this sound exactly like a used-car salesman?

How to Beat Agent-agency

1. Have and show your complete listing system. We believe what we see, not what we hear. 

Take a piece of paper and write down your entire listing process, from beginning to after closing. Could I pick up that piece of paper and follow your process successfully? Do you have packages, processes and checklists that I could use to duplicate your system? 

Could the client identify that this is a true, organized, prioritized system? Have you spent time, money and effort organizing this system so the client gets the best service possible? Is everything you do in a visual format, so the client trusts that what you say you do you really do? 

2. Create an informative pre-first visit package. This package should educate the client about the process, your company and you. It is designed to anticipate and address client objections, and it creates trust and confidence in you.

Push most of the information we traditionally gave sellers at the end of the process (the "listing presentation") to the beginning of the process. Then, sellers are fully educated and prepared for the process. 

For a list of what can go into your pre-first visit package and other handouts mentioned in this article, click here

3. Educate, don't just sell. I've had agents tell me, "I don't give sellers anything in writing at the beginning about the company, how I work, my process and so on. I just come over and tell them the price of the home." 

Is that worth the generous commission the agent received? The client thinks not. In today's world, trust is the glue that holds that commission together. You must do a whole listing process, establishing trust at every step of the way.  

Do a thorough seller interview. Then, figure out the stumbling points and objections you’re going to receive from that seller. Plan your presentation to anticipate those objections. (This handout is included when you request handouts.)

4. Become a people consultant, not just a property expert. Traditionally, agents spent most of their time gathering information about the property and little time gathering information about the seller’s needs, likes, dislikes, prior experiences and motivation. 

The shift now is toward listing agents as "people consultants." Why is this important? Computers can do market analyses. But, finding out an individual's needs can never been done impersonally. And the relationship that’s established between agent and seller is critical to the seller’s success. 

5. Provide a written marketing plan. (This handout is included when you request handouts.)

The "do-it-by-ear" agent expects the client to just go with the flow. There is no written marketing plan provided with dates for completion of any activities. The client must draw the conclusion that he must simply trust the agent to do the right things — if the agent or client could remember the "right things."

What if Nordstrom hired a marketing company to create a marketing promotion, and that marketing company came back to Nordstrom with nothing in writing, no examples and no budget? Would Nordstrom actually retain this company? Of course not. 

6. Show the difference between your marketing plan and over-priced marketing plans. The customer doesn't know what he's getting — until he doesn't. Sad, but true. All of us want the best deal. We want to go for the lowest price. Yet, how many times have we found the lowest wasn’t all it was promised to be. 

But, how do you show the customer what will happen if he lists his home over-priced? You certainly don’t want to say, "If you don’t price it right, it won't sell." That's true, but it's not attractive. 

Here's a concept I came up with, when faced with several high-powered agents who loved practicing the highest form of agent-agency. My agents were having trouble countering the promises and claims of these agents. So, I created the concept of the “right-priced” versus the "over-priced" marketing plan. (This handout is included when you request handouts.)

With an over-priced marketing plan, agents start begging other agents to show the property, advertising "owner wants to look at all offers" and creating listing brochures that give the idea that the owner is desperate.

Start gathering visuals of these over-priced marketing strategies. Put them in your presentation folder. Explain the right-priced versus over-priced marketing concept. Ask the seller, "Which marketing plan best fits your needs?"


This is really a big change of strategy going from "I just want a listing' to "I want to serve the seller's best interests." Here are the principles: Learn to tell the truth attractively. Show evidence of your claims - lots of evidence.

You can't convince people of your point of view until they trust you. Work really hard to create trust.

Educate, don't just sell. Put your substantiation and your visuals where your mouth usually is.

It's hard work, and it works. Armed with these strategies you can win against those agents practicing agent-agency. 

Carla Cross, CRB, MA, is a popular speaker, "National REALTOR® Educator of the Year" and author of six books and 20 audio programs. She specializes in “people development:” strategies for real estate professionals to enjoy highest production and profits. Join her newsletter community and receive her complimentary eBook. Learn more at www.carlacross.com or contact Carla at 425-392-6914.

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