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by Neil Jenman

Pay the ransom or stay a prisoner
by Neil Jenman

In life, there are few things worse than being stuck with people you don’t like – especially if these people have hurt and betrayed you.

In these days of no-fault divorce, we can leave spouses with whom we are incompatible; and in our jobs, the modern dismissal laws give us far more protection than in the past.

In most cases, when things don’t work out in our personal or working lives, we can move on to a better place with better people – meaning those with whom we are more compatible.

But not in real estate where thousands of sellers are veritable hostages to agents.

Here is what happens:

When home-owners think of choosing an agent, they often sign-up with the agent who makes the rosiest promises – big selling price, low commission and, as for those advertising expenses, well, let’s talk about that later.

Nothing to pay now. Just sign here.

The sellers take for the pen offered by the agent. They sign the agent’s selling agreement.

Ah-ha, gotcha!!

Yes, you are now tied up. That’s what many agents say – “got em tied up for three months”. Sometimes four months. In some areas, especially in Victoria, many sellers are shocked to discover they’re signed-up for six months.

Agents also refer to their “signed-up” listings as “controlled listings”.

Whether it’s “tied up” or “controlled”, it’s the same thing – if you sign-up with a typical agent for any length of time – you are stuck with that agent until the expiry date in the agreement.

Even if you no longer trust the agent, you are still tied up, you can’t get out. Even if the agent was positive before you signed and is now negative, you are still “controlled” by that agent.

If you answer this question in the negative: “If I knew back then (when I signed-up with the agent) what I know now, would I have signed-up with the agent?”, too bad, you are tied to the agent.

Yes, you are virtually a prisoner. You are locked up with that agent until the parole date (sorry, expiry date) on the agreement.

But it gets worse.

In thousands of cases, when sellers want to sack an agent and hire another agent, they are suddenly presented with a large bill, usually for “advertising costs”.

Every month, all over Australia, hundreds of dodgy agents demand thousands of dollars from decent sellers whose homes have not sold.

Many of these sellers do not have a spare few thousand dollars. The agent then says, “Well, you cannot be released from our agreement until you pay the expenses owing.” Or, “If you go to another agent, we will take legal action against you,”

“But if you stay with us, we will not ask for the advertising costs until we sell your home.”

Sellers in this situation often feel financially kidnapped. The advertising bill they supposedly owe – which many claim they knew nothing about (should’ve read the fine print!) – feels exactly like a ransom demand.

Said one seller, “We are prisoners to an agent we neither like nor trust and unless we pay these huge advertising costs, we cannot be released and choose a better agent.”

So, what can these “kidnapped” sellers do?

How can they get the “ransom” to be released?

Well, believe it or not, some agents (those rare few who genuinely care about the well-being of sellers) will stump up the “ransom” money to release homeowner hostages. In effect, they will loan the sellers the money to get rid of the dodgy agents.

Sure, the new agents will ask for repayment when they sell the owners’ homes, but here’s the difference: The first agent keeps an unhappy seller as a virtual hostage unless they pay what seems a ransom demand to be “released” by the agent..

The second agent pays their own money to have the sellers released so they can have their home sold by this agent that they like and trust.

If you’re being held hostage by an agent demanding several thousand dollars in advertising money, contact our help-line on 1800 1800 18. We will do our best to find you an agent who’ll rescue you and pay the ransom demand of the dodgy agent you want to fire.

Or, in some circumstances at Jenman Support, we may consider paying your ransom money ourselves. If so, you can repay us when your home is sold, and you are happy.

It’s called supporting home sellers instead of exploiting them.

That’s what we do for you at Jenman Support.