Agent Representation in the Home Selling Game

Agent Representation One important item that needs to be understood is the manner in which an offer is being made. Is it verbally? In writing? From a seller’s agent? From a buyer’s agent? What’s the difference, anyway? You have done all the work, shown the property to the customer, then all of a sudden an agent, whom you made no prior commission agreement with, shows up at your doorstep, claiming to represent you, with an offer and a commission agreement. The buyer sought out their service (or was suckered in to it) yet they claim to represent you. Further more, they want you to pay for their services. An even more frightening scenario is when this unknown agent show up representing the buyer and still wanting you to pay for their services. Don’t laugh, this happens all the time and creates a huge dilemma.

Probably what happened was that this buyer ran in to the agent at an open house, or visiting a house that this agent had listed. The unsuspecting buyer may have mentioned to the agent that he was going to make an offer on a FSBO (probably in an effort to ditch the pushy agent). The agent, in turn, offers to “protect” him and get him the “best deal”. “Not to worry” says the agent, “you won’t have to pay me a thing…my service is free to you”. Hook, line and sinker, this buyer just got reeled in to letting this agent benefit by stepping into the sale, late in the game, and basically getting a commission for work done by the buyer and seller. this happens all the time.

If a real estate agent, that has not made a prior agreement with you, shows up at your door claiming to represent you yet solicited by the buyer, question their true motivation. I seriously doubt that an interested buyer went to this agent and said “I want to buy a FSBO, but I want you to help the seller get the best possible deal from me. Please represent the seller’s best interest, not mine.” Ask the agent if the buyer was promised he would not have to pay for the services. The agent will probably respond by telling you that the seller always pays the commission. The fact of the matter is that the seller only is required to pay a commission or fee when an agreement is made with a broker. In a case such as this you would be well within your rights to question who this agent is really representing. I would be reluctant to rush and pay their fees. On the contrary, you might do well to suggest that the buyer pay the fees, as they appear to be the actual client. When the agent realizes he may well be out of the loop he will probably get out of the picture. It is an awkward situation to be in, and all too common, unfortunately.

The Value of a Real Estate Agent: A rebuttal to ‘$60,000 in real estate commissions down the drain’

Recently a letter was published in the Toronto Star that was misleading about many things Realtors do. It also alluded to the fact that the writer did not believe Realtors earned their commissions. The reality is that what a sales representative does is very detail-oriented work that often begins well before your home is listed.

Before most agents walk out the door to go to an initial listing appointment they have already done between 10 to 15 hours of preparation for the appointment. The home’s sales history is brought up. Neighbouring properties are researched to see if comparable homes have been sold, expired or are currently listed. This doesn’t even include the daily tracking of local statistics to stay on top of the ever- evolving real estate marketplace.

Once this preliminary work is completed, the agent meets with the potential client. This takes anywhere from 4 to 15 hours depending on the home and the client. This consultation usually involves measuring the home and itemizing the type of service the client can expect. The service is essentially the blueprint the agent uses to help sell your home. Before leaving, the agent will likely schedule a time to follow up for second appointment, because agents are in competition for listings in most cases.

This means more work back at the office. Expect your agent to take your information and compare it to other comparable properties in your area. This takes between 4 and 8 hours to compile what is known as a Current Market Analysis. Through this process your agent will have determined an appropriate price range in which to list your home.

Following this fact-finding mission, the realtor heads out to meet with the client for a second time. This time the agent will discuss the conclusions of the Current Market Analysis of your home. At this point the agent had worked for between 18 to 38 hours without any compensation whatsoever. The average agent lists approximately 1 in 5 listings. A good agent will list 3 in 5 listings, meaning that almost half of the time a realtor does all of this work and never receives any payment.

Once a property has been listed with the agent, a listing file needs to be prepared. This is the information that concerns surveys, current property taxes, statements concerning the condition of the property and compiling listing documentation. In addition to this the property is photographed for the MLS and for any advertising. All this takes between 10 to 15 hours.

Next the agent needs to promote and market the property. The agent will invest a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars to promote and market a specific property. The average showing takes 1 hour. An open house takes 2 hours, with 3 to 5 hours of preparation. With all this the agent has put in somewhere around 30 to 35 hours without ever receiving a penny from the vendor, and has likely spent around $500 to $1000 dollars to market the property.

Having said all this it is clear that the agent has made a substantial investment of time as well as money on a property that may or may not sell.

Now, hopefully an offer will come in that will turn into a sale. Your agent will invest the time and energy to explain the offer and help with the negotiation process to get you the most money possible for your home. This process can take only 2 hours or it can stretch out to days in some of the more difficult negotiating scenarios.

When it is all said and done, the vendor and the agent have both taken a risk that has hopefully paid off. Agents depend on listings to generate buyer leads and additional business. Vendors need their home to sell for a variety of reasons and the guidance they receive from their sales agent is invaluable in most cases. The agent has put their own time and money on the line in order to support the vendor and to assist them throughout the sales process.