Sellers Beware: Your Listing Agent May Be Working Against You

I wont mention names, but you know who you are. There is a concerning trend occurring that not only affects the integrity of the real estate profession but also poses a significant threat to the finances of hardworking members of the community I love. Realtors® are held to a certain standard and are bound by a code of ethics. It defines what we represent and is essential to developing the level of trust homeowners grant us when selling/buying the most important and personal asset they will ever own.

Is your listing agent fully exposing your home to the market?

The issue at hand deals with a certain cadre of brokers who list their homes publicly with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), as well as many other marketing portals, but are clearly resistant to cooperate with all other brokers/agents wanting to show the property. This is something I deal with almost every day when showing homes. The annoyance and inconvenience to the clients I represent is one thing. The unprofessional behavior, and worse the harm inflicted on the perpetrators client (the seller), is concerning to say the least.

Brokers hired by the seller to represent and protect their best interest, which is solidified in a contract, are unwittingly at a loss when these difficult brokers” place their own interests and profits as their top priority. It’s not up to the agent on whether they keep a property off the market or not, it is solely the seller’s decision. If the home is kept off the market, they need to take the proper steps and get the proper approvals to make the listing “office exclusive,” which requires the consent of the seller. If the seller does agree to, and fully understands, that the home will not be given any exposure and only shown within the specific brokerage, there are no issues. However, if a home is listed and available publicly, the listing agent should not make others go to unreasonable measures to view the home. Safety precautions are one thing (keeping COVID in mind) but making the home completely inaccessible is another.

Who is your listing agent representing?

The culprit’s behavior and viewpoint can be summarized in a short order of priorities. Number one, like I mentioned,  is they put their own best interest first, so they can increase their profit/commission. Second, is the consumer/buyer (the one bringing the cash). And, unbelievably, at the very bottom of their list of priorities is their client, the seller, the one who is paying the commission.

This listing agent does not just say you cant show my listing because Im a greedy, selfish, arrogant, and somewhat dirty.” They either completely ignore the showing requests (phone calls and texts) or keep making excuses to why the buying broker cannot show the property. They delay, delay, delay as long as possible so there is more of a chance they will sell their own listing, thus collecting on both the buying and selling side of the transaction.

If you think about it, it is not only a violation of their ethics, its tantamount to theft. They tell the seller they will maximize the exposure of the home when it hits the market, and then they purposely fail to follow through. As they likely know, the initial surge of interest when a property hits the market is key and you only get that opportunity once. Once it is gone and the longer a home sits on the market, the likelihood of high offers and a quick sale drops dramatically.

Is your listing an “office exclusive” for the right reasons?

Without knowing it, the seller can consent to and sign off on their interests being placed at the bottom of the priority list. In accepting contract terms that include, for example, an “office exclusive” agreement that offers discounts to the commission by a given percent, the seller agrees to putting all the control in their agent’s hands. Offering the seller a discount in a situation like this may seem like a bargain. But when a listing agent doesn’t market the home at all, fully exposing and showing the property to ALL buyers, not just their own, the seller misses out on all the potentially higher offers that may result.

These difficult and greedy listing brokers can cause this intentional delay for other reasons as well and it is important to understand that the buyer’s interested in looking at the home have a broker that is 100% focused on representing their client. It is important that the sellers have a broker equally focused on representing them and looking after their best interests.

Currently, there are over 27,000 agents and brokers throughout Long Island. So when these non-cooperative listing brokers prevent all other agents from showing a home, their client (the seller) loses a ton of opportunity to get a higher and better offer.

Yes, we can escalate these matters by reporting each instance to the zoning chairman as well as the MLS who set guidelines for agents using the service as there are agreed upon rules that must be adhered when listing through the MLS.

Like I said, reporting is an option, but who wants to do that and deal with all the conflict that will have limited effect?

Throughout my career, at times, Ive been enticed to make some of the decisions the aforementioned brokers make at the detriment of their clients. As soon as I became aware of what I was doing, Id stop and say to myself that’s not the way I like to be treated, why should I treat someone else like that?” I then quickly move on and continue practicing business the way I expect of myself with fairness, honesty, transparency and with integrity while fully representing my client and treating all others as fair as possible.

To reiterate, real estate agents are not only guided by a code of ethics, but they are also bound to them and make a legal obligation to represent the best interests of their clients. The behavior of a few puts a bad mark on the rest of us working hard for current and future residents of the communities we serve. So, when signing a contract with a listing agent, do your homework, examine reviews, and read all documents you sign. There are great agents out there, and with one you will be on your way to a successful transaction. 

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