Securing a listing these days is tough, and some agents will say just about anything to get a seller to ink a listing agreement, whether it’s true or not.
Finishing up a listing presentation a few years ago, I asked, “Is there anything any other agent has told you or shown you that I have not?”
Thinking for a moment, the seller stated, “Yes, another agent (he provided her name) said she is No. 1 in the county for sales. That’s hard to beat, don’t you think?”
In the shocked silence that followed, I scrambled for something to say without stating outright that I knew her numbers and also knew she was blatantly lying. Calling back a few days later to check on the seller’s decision, he let me know he was going with “The No. 1 agent.” He said, “Thanks for visiting.”
Having sat through hundreds of listing appointments over the years, I’ve encountered just about every lie that a competing listing agent could tell. Although it’s easy enough for me to spot the falsehoods, it can be tricky explaining them to a seller. I have never been one to bash another agent, and I have struggled on numerous occasions to keep my cool while other agents push the boundaries of reality to score a listing.
Here are the top five lies listing agents tell and a few strategies for effectively responding to their falsehoods.
1. I can get you a higher price than anyone else for your listing
This tactic is called “buying the listing,” and it has been around since pictures of animals began showing up on the walls of caves. Trained agents can head this off before it can happen by addressing it right out of the gate.
“We know that some agents might be tempted to give you an artificially high price to get you to sign with them — it’s called ‘buying a listing,’ and we believe it is a deceptive practice. Integrity is one of our core values, and we will not do anything to undermine our relationship by over-inflating a list price to get your hopes up or to get you to sign with us.
“We have run a comprehensive market analysis. We believe a fair market price for your home — should you chose to go on the market today — falls between $_____ and $_____. Because we know most sellers are not ready to hit the market immediately, we will come back the day before you are ready to go on the market and provide an updated market analysis to make sure you launch your home onto the market at the best possible price at that time.
“The truth is, buyers are the ones who actually determine prices, not sellers or their agents. When ready to go to the market, we will strategize together to set a price that provides the best opportunity for you to get the highest price and best terms. Is that OK with you?”
2. I have buyers for your home
I have lost count of the number of times I have countered this argument. It sounds so good on the surface, but underneath it represents a disregard for the sellers’ best interests. When we hear this argument, we respond as follows:
“I’m so glad you mentioned that. One of our goals is to get you the highest possible price and terms AND protect your best interests. First of all, you need to know that this is a common tactic agents use to get you to sign a listing, and it’s NOT in your best interest.
“Although they may or may not actually have a buyer (the odds are very low they have a buyer for your exact home), you will usually get the best offers by going live on the market and letting everyone out there compete for your home, not just one buyer whom the listing agent controls.
“Additionally, if your listing agent brings you a buyer, that is dual agency and is actually outlawed in some states across the country. Your best representation happens when your agent represents you and another agent represents the buyer.”
3. I’m the top agent in this area
This brings up several questions right out of the gate:
- Is this specific agent No. 1 in their office?
- Their team?
- No. 1 at the water cooler?
- Is it their entire office that is No. 1?
- No. 1 in what? Homes sold on the block in the past year or the entire county?
We go into our listing presentations with documentation that specifies our actual numbers and how they relate to other individuals and teams. Engaged sellers can also track our numbers on sites such as Zillow, and we will provide client references, reviews and more.
Ironically, some sellers are not interested in working with the No. 1 agent in the region, assuming they will be too busy to handle their transaction personally.
Rather than engaging in a spitting contest, show up with proof that your marketing is the best available. After all, being No. 1 doesn’t sell homes — fantastic marketing does.
4. We have access to a special pool of buyers through our national networks
This one sounds plausible because some agents do have contracts with national relocation companies. Again, though there might be buyers in the network, you must understand buyer behaviors to combat this one. The scrip we use is as follows:
“Some agents will tell you they have a national relocation network that provides them with access to a larger pool of buyers. Although this sounds logical on the surface, you have to remember that buyers, even if they have a signed contract with a relo company, are still acting like normal buyers — they are constantly on their phones checking out homes in the area to which they will be moving.
“In other words, they will still see every listing out there regardless of whether any agent has a contract with a relo company or not. So ionically, though this sounds like an advantage on the surface, it has no actual benefit at all. Also, remember that of the listing agent brings in the buyer, it is dual agency — which is NOT in your best interest.”
5. If we can’t sell it, we’ll buy it!
The greatest lies always have a grain of truth in there somewhere. Yes, it’s true they will buy the house if they cannot sell it. Maybe. The real question is: Will you be willing to sell to them at the price they will offer you? If this deal is so great, every listing agent in North America would be making this claim.
All you have to do when you hear about a competing listing agent using this program is ask the sellers if they have received the guaranteed price in writing and whether they would actually be willing to sell their home at that price. You can also mention that the guaranteed price might be the starting point in some cases, but the agent buyer might take deductions based on property conditions.
There are many more lies out there, but these are the most common ones I encounter regularly. With good scripts and practice, you can counter these when you hear them.
Additionally, make sure you always ask if any other agent has promised anything that you have not — that will be your window into what has been said by others and will provide the opportunity to counter any lies with truth.
Carl Medford is the CEO of The Medford Team.