How to handle agents : Part 1

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PART 1: Don’t throw nuggets at them!

by Neil Jenman

READING TIME: 3.5 minutes apx

Last Saturday I spoke with a pig. Rude, mean, inconsiderate, selfish – a horrible man. It’s probably an insult to call him a pig – an insult to pigs I mean. Pigs are nice animals. There was nothing nice about this bloke. Before I could terminate the call by telling him that we don’t offer our support to pigs, he had gone. Disconnected. Good riddance. I will never speak with this pig again, never. He can suffer what he told me happens with “all agents” – high risk and bad treatment.

The best way to get the best price when selling is to find the best agent possible. But you are never going to find a good agent if you approach them with a bad attitude, if you act like a pig.

When I had my real estate office, people would say: “I don’t like agents.” My standard reply was: “Neither do I – that’s why I opened my own real estate office. I am an agent you will like. I put your interests first, all the time.” I would then pause. In most cases, this brief statement would get my potential customer ‘on-side’. If not, I would politely say: “If you are going to start dealing with me by saying you don’t like me, I don’t think you should deal with me.”

Generally, the conduct of agents is not very high. But some members of the public are not very good either.

A few years ago, just before her fifteenth birthday, my daughter got a job at McDonald’s. She was thrilled. But her excitement soon turned to shock when she met the customers. Every day she was verbally abused, often on several occasions. She heard the F word dozens of times, especially if an order was incorrect. She would constantly be told that she was “F—ing stupid” (she’s not). I was appalled. I wanted her to quit. I couldn’t stand my little girl being abused every day. What kind of people was she meeting?

I later found out that, at Macca’s, abuse is as common as burgers. Often, it’s virtually: “Would you like the F word with your abuse?” Our daughter would come home shaking, her eyes red-rimmed. Nothing would make her quit. She had waited years to get a job at McDonald’s. She was determined to stick it out. One evening, an irate customer yelled that the chicken nuggets weren’t hot enough. He then threw his box of nuggets all over my daughter.

These days, I sometimes buy coffee at McDonald’s. Every time I go into one of their stores, I apologise to the staff, especially the youngsters, for the abuse they endure. I tell them that miserable people have miserable lives and you must never let another person’s bad attitude give you a bad day. Don’t feel anger, feel pity for nasty people. And consider this: Does abusive behaviour get them what they wanted? Does being abusive lead to being happy? Of course not. Be careful how you treat staff in shops, especially restaurants. You never know what may happen to your food as it’s prepared. Horrible rumours of revenge on horrible people are true.

The same applies in real estate. If you start with an agro attitude, you are not going to win agents. If you are rude or say you don’t trust them, they are not likely to go out of their way to help you find your dream home; or, if you are selling, to get you the highest price possible.

I often ask agents a question: “If you have two home-owners who are selling. The first says, ‘I don’t trust agents as far as I can spit, so I will watch you carefully.’ The second says, ‘You are the expert, so I trust you to do your best for me, I will leave everything up to you.’ For which owner will you try harder?”

Without exception, every agent tries harder for the nicer sellers. Good sellers (and buyers) usually get a good deal in return, at least in courtesy.

The first thing you must do when dealing with agents is be polite. Dare I even suggest you also be “nice”? When agents appraise your property and discuss a method of sale, offer them a cup of tea. Maybe a few Iced Vo-Vos. This first meeting is the first stage of an important relationship. Possibly a long one too, depending on how long it takes to sell your home.

It’s harder to rip-off people who treat you well. If the agent genuinely likes you the first time you meet, that should bode well for your future relationship, especially when you move to the next phase of dealing with an agent.

It’s good to have an agent who genuinely likes and cares about you. Therefore, for your own sake, be polite to agents – as hard as this may be at times – and try to find one who is genuinely interested in you as a person. The best agents are good listeners.

If you find an agent who seems genuinely concerned about your financial aims for selling your home, you have achieved something that many sellers never achieve: an agent who genuinely wants the best result for you. Probably they will say something along those lines. If not, try and persuade them to tell you that you are important to them. Even if you ask something such as: “Are you seriously interested in getting us the best price for the sale of our home?” If the agent answers ‘yes’ which, of course, they all do – but in this case you have the added advantage of having an agent who truly seems to like you – you can move to the second stage of ‘handling an agent’ – the INTERVIEW. Or, as we prefer you to look at it: The Grilling Process.

To get a high price, it’s important you find a good agent. Once you’ve vowed not to throw chicken nuggets at them, it’s time to do some interviews.