What hits a real estate agent’s sore spot?

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Dear Heather,

I think Iíve upset my real estate agent. She has shown us loads of properties but I was driving along the other day and went past an open house sign so I stopped and went in. Turns out the house was exactly what I wanted and I am going to go ahead and buy it. Unfortunately, as it was with another agent and she didnít introduce me to the property after all her hard work, I donít think she gets any commission. How does this work?


Dear Buyer,

Letís be clear on one thing: real estate agents are not fragile beings. Weíve heard it all and, for the most part, we have a great sense of humour about things. In other words, you can tell us virtually anything ó in fact, you should if itís pertinent to buying or selling your home. There are, however, a handful of things that clients say or do that can rub us the wrong way. These things arenít offensive per se, and you probably mean no harm when saying them, but they do rather hit a sore spot. Read the list below:

1. I donít want to bother my realtor. Can you just show me the house?

Not just no, but heck no. To be clear, youíre more than welcome to view it, but thereís a protocol in play here. Contrary to what you think, asking your agent to see a home is not ďbotheringĒ them. Itís their job. Itís how they get paid. Itís what they love doing. If there are extenuating circumstances preventing your agent from showing you a home, let him or her call the listing agent directly and have a colleague do it on their behalf. Donít worry, youíll get to view the home one way or another but if youíre already working with an agent then going straight to the listing agent is considered a faux pas in this industry (and a slap in the face to your agent). You are right, she wonít get any commission for all her time and hard work. It hurts and it happens more often than you think. Please Ö donít do it.

2. I want to buy a home, but I donít want to commit to one agent.

Loyalty is a two-way street. If you want an agentís help, understand that he or she will spend a considerable amount of time, money and effort shuttling you from house to house, scheduling home viewings and previewing listings on your behalf. If they do this many times for you ó sometimes as many as 15 or 20 ó and then you buy a house through another agent, they do not get remunerated. Worse, it shows no respect for their time and effort.

3. Donít show my home unless Iím available.

Real estate agents are busy, so are buyers. Therefore, if you want to maximise your homeís exposure, youíre going to have to be flexible. You naturally want to be present to keep an eye on things, but try to control that urge. Buyers get uncomfortable with sellers standing over them while they view a home.

Furthermore, it is not easy to listen to criticisms about your home from strangers. Sadly owners and tenants can actually kill a deal by saying the wrong thing.

4. Iíll get preapproved for a mortgage later.

This puts you at a huge disadvantage right out of the starting block. First, an agent worth his or her salt wonít agree to invest countless hours showing homes to someone who isnít approved for a loan. Secondly, itís an unfair burden on the seller to bring tyre kickers into their home (which is how youíll be perceived). Therefore, listing agents and sellers will often require a preapproval letter before they show you a property ó many insist on it ó and almost certainly alongside your offer. This letter strengthens your offer by instilling confidence in all parties that youíre financially capable of purchasing the home, and serious. If you donít have preapproval yet, it can actually be your loss as it can take an extra few weeks and someone could come along and buy your perfect property during that time.

5. You sell real estate? You must make good money.

Yes, sure sometimes we are lucky enough to make a good commission on an expensive house, but these tend to be few and far between. Also, keep in mind that commissions are split between the companies representing the buyer and seller.

In other words, of that 5 per cent you paid your agent to sell your home, he or she saw only a tiny fraction. An agent is paid strictly on commission. Additionally, there are many out-of-pocket expenses for agents ó transportation costs, mobile phone, extra promotion of your property, etc.

Even the best agents can sometimes go months between sales as they can get held up by things like boundary disputes, tenants, financing, structural survey, lost deeds, etc

6. Iím planning to sell my home myself. I just want to know how to do it.

We all know that time is money, but so is knowledge. Itís not always free, and it certainly canít be passed from one brain to another through osmosis ó especially not how to sell a home. So if you ask this question of an agent donít be offended if you donít get the answer you were seeking.

Itís not that agents want you to fail, itís just that a) you are not intending to pay for that advice and b) advising you how to sell a home isnít as easy as, say, forwarding a recipe for chocolate pound cake. I should know. Many people tried to replicate my grandmotherís chocolate pound cake.

They even had the recipe. But they all failed miserably, every time. Bottom line? If you want to benefit from the experience, be willing to pay for it ó especially when it comes to a large transaction like real estate.

7. Iíd love to get paid to look at lovely houses all day, every day.

I am sure you would. So would we! Firstly believe me, they are certainly not all ďlovelyĒ and ďlooking at housesĒ is only one of numerous things agents do for you when they sell your home, and no one gets paid until the sale closes.

ē Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realtyís leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate