There are certain phrases in the modern lexicon of real estate agents that should put sellers on the alert every time they hear them.

They go something like this:

‘If we run the right advertising campaign we could get…’

‘We could sell this in two weeks!’

‘You’d be crazy not to auction this home!’

Caveat venditor (seller beware) should be the experienced seller’s watchword and immediate reaction to these claims.

Many people experience a wide gap between the promises made by salespeople and the actual service provided.  If you sign with an agent on the basis of certain claims they make, it’s only fair that you are able to hold that agent to account if they fail to deliver.

To ensure you don’t fall victim to an over-promising salesperson, make sure you have all verbal promises in writing before signing an agency agreement.  If the agent’s price quote seems high, simply say, ‘That sounds good.  Can you guarantee it in writing?’

This is not to be confused with homeowners asking the agents to guarantee an extreme request, such as a sale 30 per cent above market price.  No agent can be expected to guarantee a fortunate outcome, whether it’s a sale at above market price or a sale in under two weeks.  You are simply asking the agent to guarantee unsolicited promises they have made to you.  Most people would agree this is fair.

The best agents are more than happy to back up their verbal promises in writing.  If an agent won’t guarantee the price they quote, ask why not.

One of the most common tricks home sellers fall for concerns the length of the agency agreement.  An agent will claim they have ‘many buyers who would be interested in a home just like this one’.  Yet when the time comes to sign the agency agreement, the agent wants the owner to sign a 90-day exclusive agency agreement.  Why 90 days if there are so many buyers ready and waiting in the wings?

To promise a service or result verbally and then back away when asked to commit to it in writing fails the fair dinkum test.

It is very difficult to hold someone to account on a verbal promise, but easy to do so when everything is in writing.

When interviewing agents, remember that you hold the most power and control before you sign an agreement.  Use it decisively.

This is an excerpt from Peter O’Malley’s book, “Inside Real Estate”.  If you would like a free copy, contact us today.