House Not Selling? Maybe Your Agent Is Only Using It As A Trophy?


Not every real estate agent takes your listing with the intent on selling it.  Some agents like to keep houses they’re listing as trophies.  By keeping houses as trophies, an agent can use it as listing bait, to attract other listings, and as buyer bait, to attract buyers that they can steer to other homes they’re trying to sell.  This article explains how trophies are used and how to avoid real estate agents that collect, but never sell trophies.

How Trophy Listings Are Used

Basically, all listings are trophies to a real estate agent.  Agents display their trophies on “New Listing” postcard mailings that they send to prospective sellers in a new territory they’re trying to break into.  They use your listing to attract buyer clients through open houses.  Agents also like to use trophies in advertisements.  Flip through a real estate magazine and you’ll see tiny postcard sized pictures of houses scattered around a giant picture of that agent.  The picture of the house is so small that you can barely see the front door, but you can see every blemish and wrinkle on that agent’s giant picture.  Using listings as trophies is commonplace, and none of these practices are bad if they benefit the seller in some form or another.  However, when an agent only uses your listing to attract future listings and to attract buyers to other listings, you have a serious problem.

How To Avoid Real Estate Agents That Collect Trophy Listings

There are several signals that you can look for to see if an agent likes to collect trophies rather than sell them.

  • If an agent has more listings than he could possibly manage
  • The agent’s ads only promote the agent and not his/her listings
  • You see more ads promoting the agent than the agent’s listings in the local media
  • The agent doesn’t have any other listings in your neighborhood
  • The agent’s listings are scattered across an area too large to adequately cover
  • The agent’s track record is filled with lots of expired listings and cancelled listings but very few sold listings
  • The agent’s agency does not represent buyers in your area
  • While all the other agents thought your price was unrealistic, this agent agrees to it without question
  • A sign in your yard is the only advertisement you’ve seen regarding your listing
  • Your agent is avoiding your phone calls
  • At your listing’s open house, your agent spends more effort attracting new clients than she does selling your house

So, if you’re wondering why your house isn’t selling, or generating any interest, then your house may be a trophy in your agent’s listing portfolio.  If that’s the case, it’s time to take that trophy off her or her mantle and find another agent.  AgentHarvest’s free real estate agent finder service can help.

If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.



This entry was posted in Hiring an Agent by Bill Petrey, Realtor. Bookmark the permalink.

About Bill Petrey, Realtor

Bill Petrey, the CEO and Founder of AgentHarvest, has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, Inman News, AOL Real Estate, and Inman Next, among others. He founded AgentHarvest for the sole purpose of making the process of finding a good Realtor better and easier. Bill Petrey is an author and editor of both The AgentHarvest Blog, Real Examples of Really Rotten Realty Blog, and the creator of Really Rotten Realty.

3 thoughts on “House Not Selling? Maybe Your Agent Is Only Using It As A Trophy?

  1. Great conversation starter but I have to comment about your implication that advertising an agent is somehow a sub-par marketing tactic.
    Let’s talk about Homes magazines, for example. Hardly ever are agents having any luck with them bringing in buyers for their listings. Not sure how it is in your area, but in Northern Indiana, it is a dying media. The agents who advertise in the magazine are starting to focus on marketing themselves instead for branding efforts.

    How are agents in your area using them?

  2. Sorry, I do want to say that your point about price really is a good one. People want to hear that their home is worth more than they thought or even just what they thought so if several agents come below price and one will list it at whatever the seller wants, some people will go with the latter.

    Also, open houses….they aren’t working here anymore and many agents I know simply do them because the sellers request them and they want to make them happy. Ideally, the agents would be honest with the sellers that they rarely work (again, at least in our area).

    Again, thanks for the conversation starter.

  3. Renee:
    First of all, thank you for commenting.

    Actually I don’t disagree that self-promotion is the key to being a successful real estate agent and posing in front of your trophies is an acceptable and effective way of promoting yourself as a successful listing agent. “Just listed” postcards are also effective to attract listings. Of course listing a house doesn’t make you a successful listing agent, selling a house does. My problem is when they use their client’s house for self-promotional purposes only, giving you nothing in return. I have a problem with agents that only promote themselves and let fate determine their client’s outcomes. That’s the point I was trying to get across. I’ve seen ads where agents are posing in front of their trophies, and the trophies do not have an address, MLS# or any identifiable information a buyer could use to find that house. To me, ads like that do nothing for the client and only promote the agent. On the other hand, some agents create listing books that feature the home with a description, address and other useful info and while those books promote the agents, they also benefit the sellers too. I also agree that published ads may be on their way out. I have a hard time justifying the cost of most of them. I hear a lot of similar talk from agents in the Dallas area. I think most of the ads are placed in print media for no other reason than clients expect it.

    Regarding your comments about open houses, I couldn’t agree more. Most attendees are window-shoppers trying to see what the “Jones” are up to. However, they are still a great way to land buyer clients for other houses. Unfortunately that doesn’t do the current client any good.

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