Real Estate Agents, like anyone else in the sales profession, have their fair share of job related ‘pet hates’. Due to the nature of the work where one is dealing with clients who, in most cases, are selling or purchasing the biggest investment of their lives, a lot of emotions are involved. These emotions are often portrayed as indecision, insecurity and ego. Of course an Agent would like their work to be as simple as listing and selling properties and while this is exactly what goes on most of the time, more than most professions, a large portion of an Agent’s best efforts are often wasted. Most Agents work on a commission basis only and can not really afford to waste resources in an effort to please awkward and unreasonable clients, but nevertheless they often do. As someone who has worked in the field for over a decade and from my own perspective I will try to cover some situations that I endured and that Agents continue to endure as a part of their daily work. I would say that the following would rate among some of the most annoying issues that Agents have to face on a daily basis.
Users – These are the home owners in an Agent’s canvassing area that the Agent has spent years building a professional relationship with and given a courtesy call at least once a month for years, who then list and sell their property through another Agency. The Agent may have been called upon to do property assessments (estimating a property’s value by means of market related statistics) for the home owner’s portfolio of properties. The Agent may have been called upon often to offer info and advice on property taxes or property law but then the seller goes and lists and sells through a rookie Agent, new to the area and who has done no more than drop a leaflet in the seller’s post box!
Time Wasters – I recall arriving home late one Sunday afternoon after a camping trip. I had just pulled into the driveway when my mobile phone rang. It was a chap in my neighbourhood who said that he wanted to sell his house urgently, it could not wait, I had to go see him immediately! I quickly unpacked the car, changed and went to see the seller. On arriving there, I saw that he was having a braai (barbeque) and a few beers with some friends. I had printed a valuation report which I presented to him and after a short discussion he signed a Mandate for me to proceed with the sale of his property, despite his girlfriend’s objections. The next morning he called to say that he wanted to change his mind about selling as he did not feel ready yet!
About five weeks later he called once more and with a beer in his left hand he signed a new mandate with me. I placed his property on the market, sat a show house and was able to get him an offer at a value that he originally said that he would agree to. He turned the offer down and said that he would like to take his property off the market until he could get even more for it. Once more I obliged.
When he called me around three months later to sell his house again, I referred him to an Agent in the area who I did not like. I realised that this seller only wanted to sell his house whenever he was drunk!
Staying on the same subject, I would say that buyers who are too relaxed can be very unreasonable. I would say that Agents are let down frequently by prospective buyers who do not make it to appointments to view properties. Often I would call a few sellers to set up the required times for when I could bring my prospective buyer through to view. I would then arrange to meet the buyer at a neutral spot such as at the local service station. After waiting in the hot sun for 15 or 20 minutes I would call the buyer to see where they were and often they had just left the office on the other side of town, in peak hour traffic or had totally ‘forgotten’ that they had another appointment. A timeous courtesy call to an Agent would make a big difference, but often a relaxed buyer simply does not get around to it. Many a Friday afternoon I would call to see where the buyer was only to be told they had forgotten the appointment while the background noise clearly indicated that they were in a pub.
Other buyers can simply not make up their minds on what they are looking for. An Agent will drive some buyers around to see all twenty of the listings on their books that seem to be within the category of what the buyer is looking for. The buyer will either dislike everything he sees or, even worse, love everything he sees but still not commit to making an offer. Often, after the Agent has spent around four full days driving the prospective buyer around, the buyer will go and buy a property through another Agency that is totally different to what he said he was looking for.
Cheapskates – Buyers who really like a property often want it for next to nothing even though there is value in the property. Despite any advice to make a decent offer, they will make a ridiculous one which is hardly worth putting down in writing but that the Agent is obliged to present to the seller. When the predictable happens and the offer is rejected, then they will counter offer by such a small amount that it would hardly make a difference. When the counter offer is rejected, the average cheapskate (who can afford more) will often ask the Agent to call them if they get another offer and to tell them how much the other offer was for. A decent Agent should not disclose any figures but can say that they received a higher offer. This is usually not good enough for a cheapskate who only wants to offer ten cents more at most and so these buyers are usually not worth pursuing.
Complainers and Bulldozers – I group complainers and Bulldozers together as they are often one and the same. This group usually feels that everyone must jump because they are parting with their cash. They often request to see the property again and then complain about things that they were okay with at the time of signing the Offer to Purchase. All of a sudden they are no longer happy with the colour of the paint in the rooms that they want to use for their children and the rooms must be repainted before they move in because the kids cannot possibly breathe in paint fumes. The re-painting is something that the seller needs to do as they have already offered so much for the property that they could have bought the ten bedroom mansion two blocks down for the same price. Any opposition to such a request is usually met with a threat to cancel the whole deal.
I once had a buyer who wanted investment property, he looked over a small house that I had listed before completing an Offer to Purchase. He said that he would like the back wall by the kitchen repainted. I noted this under ‘special conditions’ on the Offer to Purchase document and thought that this would be covered once accepted by the seller. The seller repainted the back wall and then the buyer asked to see the vacant property once more. On seeing the property for the second time he said that he wanted the whole outside of the house repainted otherwise he would, surprise, surprise… cancel the whole deal. The seller refused to budge and instead of the deal being cancelled the buyer got his Attorney involved and threatened to sue everyone. After two weeks of haggling, the issue was finally resolved when the sellers reluctantly agreed to paint the whole outside of the property.
Nibblers – This is a group that I personally find most stressful. These are buyers that move in and then start to want additional repairs done to add value to their purchase. They go through the property like Sherlock Holmes with his magnifying glass and make four pages of bullet points about everything that is wrong with the house. Everything from the flaking paint on the back window ledge to the chip on the corner of the guest bathroom window pane is noted. They whine and complain about the seller needing to repair everything and if they are paying occupational rent before transfer then they also usually threaten to cancel the whole deal or to stop paying occupational rent.
Lazy Sellers – Some sellers agree to carry out repairs as part of the Sales Agreement. They never do despite numerous reminders. The buyer understandably becomes agitated and the Agent gets caught up in the middle of the whole mess. It often takes prolonged intervention from the Transfer Attorney to resolve the issue.
There you have it, so next time you query your Agent’s commission, bear in mind what they often have to endure. It is hard enough for Agents to get Mandates in the first place and then a lot of sales fall through and Mandates are lost due to issues such as a buyer not being able to secure a home loan.