2013 Jun 7th

Hoboken Agent “Busy Prospecting” from 9 to Noon – Seller Beware!

I am doing a deal with a listing agent who simply refuses to return my phone calls. Every time I call him I get a recorded message saying that he is “busy prospecting” and will return my calls later.  He never does.  If I email him requesting information, I get a canned response saying that his “transaction manager” will get back to me with an answer.  In the time it must have taken to write that email, he could have simply answered my question himself.  These agents subscribe to a particular business model within the real estate industry that relies on cold-calling. The goal is to cold call a set quantity of people every day and use a very specific sales method to attempt to list as many properties as possible.

Sellers are so easily duped into listing their apartments for sale with “cold-callers”.   When you meet these agents at a listing appointment they will tell you they have closed more deals than anyone else.  Sometimes it is true.  They may have.  This makes them quite a bit of money.  But their own personal financial success does not necessarily align your own best interest as a seller.

Allow me a minute to explain.  Real estate agents are all independent contractors.  No one tells us how to go about our job.  The ‘cold call’ model, widely preached (at a hefty price, of course, $195 for a 4 day “action session”) by Mike Ferry , is traditional, cold-calling sales model.  The point is for the agent to make a set number of cold calls, working off a pre-formed script.  He or she has an prepared answer to every possible objection.  The adherents to this system are relentless.  They lock themselves in a little room for hours a day and make calls (or “prospect”).

Interestingly, I recently saw a video interview with a “top producing” Keller Williams agent who follows this method.  He actually said during the interview that he does not believe in returning phone calls or emails because it is not a productive use of his time.  Watch this video and listen closely at the 31 minute mark.

He says: “Gary Keller (founder of Keller Williams) says it best – taking care of business must never take precedence over seeking new business”.

Then, at 31:21 he advised agents “just don’t respond to emails and texts” because 60 to 70% will take care of themselves.  I almost fell of my chair when I heard that!  Don’t respond to my clients calls and emails because they will eventually go away?  Really?  Is that what you want your agent to do?

Once an agent like this has your listing, he lets his minions deal with all communication with you.  The seller who has already signed the listing agreement does not warrant his valuable time.  He needs to prospect for more listings.  To put it mildly, it is not a customer service based approach.  These guys make big bucks, no doubt.  It is a successful plan for an agent whose goal is to make as much money as possible.

The question you, the seller has to ask is this – is this who I want working for me to sell my home?  Will this kind of agent get me the most money possible for my property, in the shortest period of time, with the fewest problems along the way?  Because at the end of the day that is what really matters to a seller.

Some things to consider when choosing a listing agent, besides how much business they do, I would suggest should include:

Why does all this matter?  Every property, if the price is low enough, will eventually sell.  So you can sign on with a “cold-caller” and he or she can do a horrible job marketing your home and simply, in time, convince you that you need to lower your price.  Once low enough, your home will sell.  I’m sure these agents have memorized a wonderful script for just that purpose.  But the real question is had you used a “customer-service” agent, who takes time to meet with you after the initial listing appointment, spends money and effort to properly stage your home, prices it correctly, takes high end photos and videos and follows up to be sure it looks its best on-line, handles the negotiations with the agent who brings the buyers, answers questions and is responsive, might this customer-service oriented agent not have gotten you even MORE money for your home?  I strongly believe so.

My primary goal as an agent is to sell your property while delivering the best possible service.  It may take me more time to do that and at the end of the year I may sell fewer homes and make less money than the cold-caller agent.  That is my purposeful choice.  When I walk around town and run into you a year later, I don’t want you to ask me why the photos of your home that I posted on the MLS were blurry and upside down.  I want you to thank me for doing such a great job.  If your agent boasts of having the most listings of anyone in Hudson county, or selling the most properties in Hudson county, he or she is probably spending more time accumulating listings than actually focusing on the ones they already have.  Good for him.  Probably bad for you.

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  1. Anonymous

    So is that XXXXXXXX or XXXXX? A certain agency in town pushes this mentality heavily. Agents who do not buy in are treated like dirt, and Ethics is only a required class, then left at the door.

  2. JC

    That quote from gary keller is so rediculous. Is it because they have already signed into an agreement with seller so odds are the commission is “already guaranteed”? Its pathetic for sure, and that advice wont work in the real business world. I dont even know what to say to this philosophy.

  3. Lori Turoff

    Unfortunately, JC, it DOES work in the real business world because these agents do a ton of real business. I hope prospective sellers learn to distinguish among agents and truly understand what is in their own best interest!

  4. Lori Turoff

    Anon – sorry but I’m not doing this to throw any specific agents under the bus and don’t feel comfortable with you posting their names. I purposely chose an example of an agent preaching this philosophy who was NOT from the area. People are smart and can figure out for themselves who does this and who does not. So I have deleted the names you wrote in your comment.

  5. Anonymous

    I can respect that. Never, I guess people AREN’T smart enough, because as you say – they do tons of business and make tons of money, so why change the strategy?

  6. Anonymous

    Sorry, that was However, not never.

  7. Lori Turoff

    Hopefully, I am helping to make them smarter by writing posts like this one. If enough sellers learn what is truly in their best interest perhaps things will start to change.

  8. Randy

    Lori,

    Thank you for this posting. I hate this broker with a passion. This broker just cold called me last week again (he calls me every year) offering to sell my apartment. He tells me he regularly sells more apt than any other broker in Hoboken and that he would get me the best price.

    This is the same broker I wanted to buy my apt from several years ago. He had a sign on the building, and I had called and e-mailed him directly (as I had no broker at the time) and this broker just ignored every phone call and e-mail I sent. It was incredible. He was disgusting then and is disgusting now. Although I believe I got a great deal on the apt in the end as I assume others had this same problem so there was little competition.

    Thank you for educating.

  9. Anonymous

    Lori – Thank you for your article that is very interesting. As a prospective buyer who has had the privilege of dealing with both yourself and the agent you are calling out here I think it’s only fair to highlight some of your best practices that I’ve experienced first hand as a buyer. By working to get your seller the best possible price you seem to routinely just check your ethics at the door by blatantly abusing the NJ three day attorney review period as an open season to aggressively shop the current buyers bid . Using an accepted offer as leverage to find a higher price and then terminate the original signed contract once you do is apparently within your legal rights (seems like a loophole to me) but is hands down one of the most unethical things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Oh and of course the obvious stalling tactics used to squeeze a few extra days in between verbal acceptance and when a signed contract by the buyer was sent to seller and when it was actually sent back?? There is even a term for this disgusting practice.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gazumping

    Buyers beware…

  10. Lori Turoff

    1. – I didn’t call out any specific agent. In fact, I deleted the names of certain agents when someone posted them in a comment. The practices I describe are not limited to any one agent.

    2. – A seller’s agent has a duty to get the best possible price for the seller. The attorney review period is a statutory provision of New Jersey law. No contract is binding during attorney review. If the seller chooses to accept a higher offer, that is his perogative. There is no ethical violation by the agent or the seller in what you describe. In fact, Article 1, Standard of Practice 1-7 of the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics obligates the listing agent to present all offers to the seller until CLOSING unless the seller has waived such obligation in writing. So if another offer comes along during attorney review, unless the seller has already put in writing that they do not wish to see it, we are ethically OBLIGATED to present that offer to the seller.

    3. – Verbal “acceptance” is a meaningless phrase in real estate. It is also a matter of law that all offers for real property in New Jersey be in writing signed by the buyer, and the acceptance must be signed by the seller to be valid.

    4. – Sorry you got outbid. That is the market we are in today. It happens all the time. Your comment sounds like either a poor understanding of the way real estate is transacted in this state, a poor understanding of the Code of Ethics or just plain sour grapes. You may not like what happened but that doesn’t make it wrong or unethical.

  11. Cheryl

    In my opinion, Lori is the best realtor in Hoboken. Her wealth of information is an intangible asset worth your half million to million dollar investment. This business is all about service, trust, and market intelligence, it is so important to choose your realtor wisely. If you want a realtor who will make sure you invest wisely , get the most money for your place, who will answer calls/ emails, and knows this market inside and out then choose Lori Turoff .

  12. Tania Patch

    Thank you for writing this Lori. You don’t have to ‘name’ anyone, but we all know who these few agents are. The true disservice they give their clients by not making the client a priority but focus on numbers and simply getting more listings. I have seen so many listings sell for less than they should have gotten because they convince the seller to under-price. There is pricing to generate alot of interest and sell, and then there is bargain basement pricing to just get it done quickly without the best interest of the seller and it sells for less then it should have because of improper pricing and marketing.

    Unfortunately the people that have worked with some of these agents don’t take the time to publicly review them.

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