2015. Bad listing agents and how they hurt sellers

What does an exclusive buyer’s agent know about the work of a seller’s agent? Almost everything.


In the current — seller-favoring – market, housing that is slightly underpriced is getting the highest sale price. It takes a skilled agent to find that asking price. If it is priced too low, the property may be rejected because the buyer wonders, “What’s wrong with it?” If it is too high, buyers may not even look at it; many buyers became discouraged this year because houses in their price range were bid up over their buying power.

Because there are several qualified buyers for any house, a good house that is slightly underpriced will attract the highest number of qualified buyers. Two or more buyers will compete. This encourages one or more of them to “pay anything!” in order to win the house. That is the dynamic of underpricing. It works.


Beware of an agent who does not give you options. A good agent will give you options for pricing, with the risks and benefits of each choice.

Beware of an agent who does not inform you about the risks of opening your house for open houses.

Beware of agents who focus on the speed of the transaction. This may not be for your benefit.

Hall of Shame, 2015:

cautionLying: A listing agent told one of my agents that it was illegal for a buyer’s agent to attend the appointment where the appraiser came to the house.

Lazy and disorganized:  A listing agent made her seller get the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, then wrote the excess deposit check to our client (it belonged to the seller), and didn’t turn in her paperwork to her office. (The second and third flaw may be a bad office, but we think it was the agent.)

A listing agent went on vacation for three weeks with no coverage. Then, was annoyed that the closing was delayed.

Disrespectful: An agent asked for feedback with the words “Did they hate it?”

A listing agent asked to move up the closing, for fear that “the old guy” could die before closing.

We are connoisseurs of listing agents. We see what they do and don’t do for their clients. Some of these things cost home sellers time, some cause inconvenience, and some waste money or damage the property.


On the buyer’s side, here are results for the hardest seller’s market we have faced, ever!

Our report card for 2015:

  • No clients waived their home inspections in order to buy a house.
  • No clients waived mortgage contingency unless they had cash resources to close without a mortgage.
  • All but three of our clients bought in bidding wars.
  • On four occasions, we were told that our client’s accepted offer was not the highest offer.
  • On six of those occasions, we were told that the letter we wrote, with our client’s input, made the difference.
  • Total amount under original asking negotiated by clients not in bidding wars: -$151,585
  • Total amount negotiated after inspections: -$26,000
  • Number of properties we identified for our clients before they were listed: 18
  • Towns served: Acton, Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Belmont, Boston (South End, Brighton), Medford, Melrose, Natick, Waltham, Westwood, Woburn, and Quincy. 


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