Stories From The Street – June 2015

What’s with Agents Holding UnHappy Clients to Agreements?

Last week I was talking to one of my agent friends, who does a great business, is very honest, and works extremely hard for her clients. I had a question about how a transaction was unfolding and wanted to get an opinion on someone with a different company.

Just a few days earlier this agent and I were negotiating a contract, for her purchasers and my sellers. Our clients were unable to agree on the terms of the agreement, and the deal was dead. She saw that the house, after just 2 weeks on the market, was withdrawn. She asked what happened with the listing. I explained that my clients’ situation with the home that they were purchasing in Virginia changed, and they had to take the home off the market for a while.

“Eric, what do you do in this situation?”

She knew that I provided Staging, Professional Pictures, and had even held a Brokers’ Open at this home and asked what I did with the expenses incurred and if I held them to the agreement or had a reimbursement clause in my contract.

I might be foolish, but I don’t have such a clause.

I’ve only been burned once in 12 years by someone by not having such a clause. With that particular client, I told him from the beginning that his old cedar roof would be an issue and even had a Roofer go check out the shingles. He confirmed they were at the end of their life. Well, to make a long story short, I paid for Staging, a professional cleaning, photos, and minor improvements and even got the client a contract that ended up falling through because the buyer could not sell their home.

He said he didn’t have the money to fix/replace the roof, so we did our best to deal with it. Winter was coming, and he decided to take the house off the market. He ‘found’ the money to replace the roof. So I pulled his house off the market for the winter and he even told me, “Eric, you have gone above and beyond, and we’ve been extremely happy with you. Let’s have the house off the market until the spring and then we will re-list with you. You have MY WORD.” You can imagine how this story ended. Yep, he ended up re-listing with someone else, and I was caught totally off guard. But, I will give him credit. He did have the courtesy to email me and tell me what he was doing. The reason and ‘stats’ he gave me about the other agent were TOTALLY inaccurate, but I don’t want a client that doesn’t live up to their word, so I wished him well.

With all my agreements with Buyers and Sellers I tell them upfront that a real estate contract with any agent has to have a beginning and ending date, but I don’t work with people that I don’t get along with and vice-versa. If you aren’t happy with me, fire me.

If you aren’t living up to our agreement and doing the necessary steps, I have the right to fire you too.

That is how I have built my business, by giving my word to clients that I’ll do my best for them and outlining the strategies that I’ll use to get them there. I provide a detailed written report/game-plan to sellers that outlines the exact steps that I will take for them. I never promise specific results or bottom lines. But I promise to position them in the best light in the market to achieve their goal, be it selling or finding the right home to purchase.
Back to the conversation I was having with my agent friend. She told me that since the first of the year that she has gotten 3 listings where the sellers had fired another agent and then re-listed with her. The story was always the same. The first agent would go in to talk to the sellers, making bold promises and telling them that ‘I have a buyer for your home.’ (This is one of the oldest tricks in the ‘Bait and Switch’ Realtor handbook.) If you hear that statement, tell that agent that you would gladly offer a one-time showing to that buyer before signing any listing agreement and see how fast they start stuttering and backtracking.

She then told me that this particular agent, because they had SO many unhappy sellers that were canceling their agreements even started to implement a clause in their contract that they could not re-list with another agent for 30 days. Think about this… If they really cared about their clients’ well-being and looking out for their clients, would they restrict them from re-listing? No. It only serves them as they make it harder for unhappy clients to leave. Don’t worry, I’ve seen this many times throughout my years: agents only worried about themselves. They aren’t in business very long.

Agents who build their business on strong practices and honestly care about the well-being of their clients will act in their best interests throughout the entire agreement. Sometimes, after signing an agreement with a client you learn that there is a conflict of personalities or the clients might change jobs, get pregnant, etc. When this happens, do you want an agent that will hold you to the agreement or one that cares about your family’s well-being?

I understand that life happens. Circumstances change. All I ask is that my clients are honest with me, and I’ll do the same with you. One bad apple in 12 years will not make me change my policy and how I deal with clients.

Thank you for taking the time to read… Hit me up at if you want me to write about a question you might have.