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Use yesterday’s idea to get a great result today.

by Neil Jenman

READING TIME: 4.5 minutes apx

Many of the today’s agents who hurl abuse at me, say I am “stuck in the 1980s” – the decade I opened my real estate office.

No, I often reply, I am stuck in the 1970s or before. Those were the days when real estate consumers were treated far better than today.

In those days, agents were paid, in real terms, about a quarter of the commissions they pocket today. There were no such things as kickbacks, vendor-paid advertising or sellers locked-in to agreements with dodgy agents. Business was often done on a handshake. It was beautiful.

As for sales results, well, yesterday’s salespeople knew something most of today’s agents don’t know – HOW TO SELL!

The best salespeople in the 60s, 70s and 80s sold more homes on a weekend than most of today’s salespeople sell in a month.

I recall one salesperson being fired because he only managed to sell an average of four homes a month. His boss told him: “If all you can sell is one house a week, you are not good enough for our team.”

Today, a salesperson who sells a home a week (four homes a month) in posh areas of Sydney or Melbourne is hailed a “superstar”. He or she would earn half a million dollars a year or more.

The salespeople in our real estate office often averaged six sales each per month. The best made eight sales a month. In today’s market, those “old-fashioned” salespeople would be earning over a million dollars a year, in personal income.

Yes, salespeople in the old days were far better salespeople than today’s legion of order takers – most of whom earn obscenely high incomes for pitifully poor performances.

Today’s drug snorting, luxury car driving ego maniacs, who rarely care about their clients would have been booted out of the industry in those times at which they now sneer at so contemptuously.

And wait for this idea: If you were a seller in the old days, here’s what you’d do.

You wouldn’t go to a real estate agent; you’d go to a hardware store.

You’d get anywhere between six and 20 keys cut for your home.

You’d then drop a key into each agent in your area with details of your home including the price you wanted (which, as today, you figured out by doing basic research into prices in your area).

The first agent who sold your home at the right price got paid. The others missed out.

In those days, it was agents who lost out not sellers.

Sellers never had to fork out thousands of dollars in needless advertising costs.

When agents wanted to attract more buyers, they’d select a handful of their most ‘attracting’ listings and advertise those listings. That would attract most, if not all, the buyers in the area.

Unlike today, when the first thing lazy agents do when they list a home is put ads on the internet (or in the paper if they are really stupid and exceptionally lazy) and then sit and wait for buyers to contact them, the agents of yesterday did something different. It was called ‘work’.

In the old days, when agents got a listing, the first thing they’d do was contact the buyers with whom they were closely working – and notify them of the good news: “A new listing has just come in and I think it may suit you,” the agents would tell their prospects. They’d hit the phones and often line up several buyers.

The race was on to beat other agents. First one to make a sale at the owner’s price wins.

It worked. Sellers sold their homes without being controlled like today. In fact, sellers not agents had control.

When I describe this old-time scenario to today’s sellers – many of whom were not born in the 60s and 70s – they get excited. “What a great idea,” they say.

Most ask this question: “Why can’t we do it that way today?”

Well, you can do it that way.

And, in many cases you’d be far better off.

You won’t pay advertising costs and you won’t be tied up with an agent you detest.

This “old-fashioned” (but, as you can see, perhaps far superior) form of listing your home is called an “Open Listing”.

And, while agents hate it with a passion, (which is why it’s barely used these days because most agents do what’s best for most agents), there are still many agents who, given the choice between making a sale to a buyer who’s already known to them or getting nothing, will check through their list of buyers. They will accept an open listing.

This is exactly how I recently helped a doctor friend sell his multi-million-dollar home in the Sydney suburb of Double Bay.

With my guidance, Peter (my friend), called half a dozen agents in the area and said: “I have a home to sell. I am contacting a few agents to see if they may have any buyers on their books prepared to pay more than $5 million. The first agent who can get me the most above $5 million can be the one who makes the sale.”

Well, the agents fell over themselves. They pulled buyers from everywhere.

They were calling my friend wanting to arrange an inspection late at night, to beat the other agents. I had not seen such a frenzy for years – since, oh that’s right, since the 1980s. He sold the home for $1.5 million more than he expected. He was laughing with delight.

If you want to sell your home today, you do not have to comply with “the way it’s done.” You can insist on using the way it used to be done.

It’s your home, you set the rules. You can use a good idea from the past in today’s real estate world. You tell the agents what to do, don’t let them boss you about. Take control.

To be sure, the best way to sell a home these days is to find the best agent – one who will give you the benefits sellers had in the past, meaning you do not pay thousands of dollars in needless upfront expenses and, if you are not happy with the agent, you can be released to find another agent (it’s called a “guarantee”).

So, if you can’t find an agent who’ll agree to such reasonable terms, head down to the hardware store and get plenty of keys cut.

You may very well create your own frenzy among agents and buyers.

And, unlike today’s methods, if this old-fashioned method doesn’t work, you won’t be thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. You will lose nothing.

That’s right, you, not the agent, will be in control with an Open Listing.

Give it some thought.

Yes, it really is possible to combine the best of the past with your needs of today. If you need a hand, contact me on or call me on 1800 1800 18.

I’ll be proud to assist you to get the best price and conditions when you sell.

I love this job of helping sellers. So do all of us at Jenman Support.

Please note: The example used in this story is true, however some of the prices and the location has been changed slightly to protect the owner’s privacy. Yes, he still has control.

Footnote: If you don’t feel comfortable handing out keys, hand out your phone number instead and say, “Call us when you want to bring a prospective buyer to see our home.”