The Four "C"s Of Dealing With A Selling Agent - May 2023
May 23, 2023 / Written by Rich Harvey
I once heard it incorrectly said that nobody walks away from a deal happy because the buyer thinks they pay too much, and the seller thinks they accept too little. That’s rarely been my experience with property buying. We often find that “happy place” in a negotiation between professionals where everyone gets what they want out of the arrangement – and I put much of that success down to the relationships we have with selling agents.
The thing everyday purchasers sometimes forget is how important the selling agent is in the process. In fact, the way you treat the agent has a lot to do with reaching a successful outcome.
I’ve broken down the selling agent relationship into four essential “C”s. Adopt these as your mantra and you will go a long way toward having a positive purchasing experience.
Listen to your mum… there is no substitute for good manners and respect.
I’ve seen the opposite happen on both sides of a real estate transaction. There are buyers who seem almost purposefully rude to the agent. They treat it like some power play. They’ve convinced themselves that being abrupt and uncommunicative makes them the “Alpha” in the deal. They’re convinced it’s giving them some sort of leverage.
I’ve even seen some agents try and do the same over the years, although it’s been thankfully rare in recent years. After all, experienced agents with professional longevity know that selling is all about relationships.
As a buyer, you must be courteous. Don’t be rude or abrasive. Never mock or scoff. Be on time for open homes and appointments. Take a moment to thank the agent for having an open home or calling to follow up on your thoughts.
The agent is your conduit to the seller. They see polite buyers as genuine prospects that are easy to deal with.
Yes, the agent’s aim is to get the best possible outcome for their seller, but if they have a buyer who is easy to deal with, they’ll want to get them over the line. Why? Because they know that the settlement period will run more smoothly with an accommodating and respectful buyer.
For fans of the TV show Ted Lasso, there’s a great scene involving a darts game that perfectly sums up the advantages of the Walt Whitman quote, “Be curious, not judgemental”.
While buying property is more serious than a game of darts, the same rules apply about the importance of curiosity.
Real estate acquisition is a major financial commitment. As such, you should want to know as much about the property as possible to help you make the right decision.
The agent will expect you to ask plenty of questions, so you should feel comfortable putting forward your queries. Also, professional ethics (and some applicable legislation) mean they will give you the correct answers to the best of their knowledge. If the house has known structural problems, or there are plans for a new build next door, they’ll tell you.
The agent also wants the settlement process to go smoothly so they won’t hide anything that could derail the deal later.
So be curious. Ask about comparable sales, and why they listed the property for the price they did. Ask how long it’s been on the market as well. If it previously went to auction, what price was it passed in for?
Be curious, and you will be well informed.
Use common sense
There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with people in a negotiation who demonstrate no common sense. If you apply common sense in your dealings, the agent knows they can work with your during the settlement.
I’ve spoken to agents who have seen buyers apply no common sense. One of the most common unfortunately is those who verbalise an offer, and then try and reduce the figure for no reason when it comes time to contract. I’ve even heard of a buyer who lied about a building report highlighting wet area damage. A costly reinspection by the seller’s building inspector proved it a falsehood, and the buyer had to proceed regardless. They simply thought the seller would offer a discount if they kicked up a stink.
So, think about your actions and consequences. Apply common sense in your dealings. Look at things from the other side of the equation and what the likely outcomes will be.
I talked about the adversarial nature of negotiation at the start, but remember that in almost every instance both you, the selling agent and the vendor want the same outcome – that the property will exchange.
As such, do everything in your power to make that happen, and they will do likewise. Let them know well in advance if there’s going to be a hiccough at your end. Perhaps your finance is taking a little longer than planned. If there’s a tenant who can only allow access at certain times, endeavour to have your consultants available during those periods.
Say there’s some minor works you think needs doing. Don’t get angry about it. Instead, look for ways to bring about a solution so that you can all move forward.
A joint effort by all parties can deliver a great result for everyone.
The four Cs are a template for better relationships and more productive deals. They are credo that professional buyers’ advocates live by.
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