Want To Motivate Your Real Estate Agent? Fire Him!

A few days ago, I got a call from a potential client interested in firing his real estate agent and hiring a better agent.  This homeowner was very unhappy with his agent and thought he didn’t do enough to attract buyers to his house.  After having the house on the market for about 116 days, the homeowner saw little activity.  However, once the homeowner attempted to fire his real estate agent, the agent was able to produce a contract in less than three days.  While I don’t like losing potential clients, I am extremely happy that this homeowner was able to sell his house and if this contract doesn’t close, I look forward to helping this client find another agent.  But I have to wonder… what happened?

The homeowner’s biggest complaint regarding this agent was that he wasn’t doing anything to attract buyers to the house.  The house was on the market for about 116 days and the only serious interest came from a buyer who toured the home when it was first on the market.  Of course, homeowners tend to love the agents that sell their houses and dislike the ones that can’t so comments like these are quite common and not always applicable.  However, in this case, one has to wonder.  Why was this buyer suddenly motivated to submit an offer on this house?  My guess is that the agent finally did his job and started aggressively following up on anyone who showed any interest in the property because he was trying to avoid losing the listing and getting fired by his client.

I wonder what would have happened had the homeowner fired his agent 30 days into the listing?  My guess is that the home would have sold 86 days sooner.  It’s the listing agent’s job to follow-up on all buyers who tour the agent’s listings to address concerns, answer questions and to determine buyer interest and motivation.  This agent didn’t do that for this listing until he was forced to, but when he did it, he got a contract on the house.  Without the threat of being fired, how much longer would this house have stayed on the market before selling, or worse, would it have become an expired listing?

Not happy with your agent?  Don’t let your listing linger on the market for months until it eventually expires.  Do like this homeowner did and motivate your agent to do what he or she was hired to do.  If you think you’re agent isn’t doing his job, fire him then watch the offers to pour in.  If you don’t get an offer then give us a call and we’ll find an agent that will do everything possible to attract buyers to your listing.

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.

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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.

16 thoughts on “Want To Motivate Your Real Estate Agent? Fire Him!

  1. My house is in a rural area and has been on the market all summer. The agent has shown it at least 10 times but no offers have been made. It seems to me there should be at least one offer from all the showings and suspect my agent is not aggressive enough. Can anyone offer some feedback?

    • A successful agent I know in the DFW area summed it up best…

      “If your house doesn’t get any traffic then it’s because agents think your house is priced too high. But, if you get lots of traffic but no offers then it’s the buyers telling you they think it’s too high.”

      Sure, only talking about the listing price is a narrow viewpoint. However, it does solve all problems. There is a price where almost any house defect, deficiency or lack of features is acceptable so that’s why agents focus on price.

      If you want to focus on something other than price, you’ll need to find out why your home isn’t getting showings or offers. You may want to have your agent do a market price study to see if your house is priced in-line with other houses near yours that offer the same options and benefits, in other words, houses that are comparable to yours. If you can buy the same features in a cheaper house, why wouldn’t you. Or if your house is priced competitively with houses that have more features or better features than yours, you’ll either need to add features or lower your price.

      Of course, it could be that your neighborhood just isn’t in demand right now but that can be determined by the sales volume in your neighborhood and how long a house stays on market before selling.

      My suggestion to you is that you have a good long talk with your agent and MAKE them tell you how comparable houses near you are selling and what you need to do to make yours highly desirable. If they don’t want to answer the question, find one who will.

      Best of luck with the sale. I hope this helps.

  2. “If your house doesn’t get any traffic then it’s because agents think your house is priced too high. But, if you get lots of traffic but no offers then it’s the buyers telling you they think it’s too high.”

    great piece of advice, and well said.

    This site has EXCELLENT content that’s interesting and informative.

    • Andrew:
      Thanks for the praise. Coming from the owners of ActiveRain, that means a lot.

      What most homeowners don’t realize is that everything about the house is related to price. No matter what troubles or incentives a house has, they can be compensated for by adjusting the price. A bad roof is a deal-killer if the house is one of the highest-priced houses in the area. It’s not a deal-maker if your house is priced $5000 less than the competing houses with good roofs. Then your house becomes a bargain priced fixer-upper.

  3. Bill,

    You’re a real tool and a sell out. If the house has been on the market for 116 days it’s over-priced and most likely the seller’s fault. You’re a drama queen looking for a blog topic of you’re blaming the agent

    • Not a tool Sawyer … a weapon. A weapon against lazy agents.

      As my earlier comments mentioned, price is the great equalizer and I’m a firm believer that agents do not sell houses, houses sell themselves. However, it’s the agent’s job to position the house in the most attractive manner to as many people as possible. In this article, the agent mentioned was too lazy to return calls, meet with the client, make price adjustments, etc. As a matter of fact, the client actually wanted to do a price drop, but the agent just said leave things alone. That’s when we got involved. The house sold in less than 3 days.

      What made the difference? The lazy agent suddenly became motivated to lower the price and contact buyers that toured the house. In this situation, you had a willing client and an unwilling agent. In this situation, the agent could have sold this house months ago if she’d done her job. Only after a threat of firing her did she perform.

      Agents don’t sell houses

      • I agree with you Bill on all matters except it is the job of the agents to sell the house. Salesmanship is what they are being paid to do hence the title. The job is an agent is to market, position on the market, show homes, attract buyers, and negotiate deals, and finally exercise their fiduciary duties to protect their clients investment. For many homeowners their home constitutes the single largest investment in their portfolio. Agents like Bill who think their entire job is to price the house so that it will minimize days on market by pricing it so low it sells in the least amount of time are motivated by wanting to escalate their sales volume easily with zero effort except penning in a price, and all at the expense of the home owner. I have seen realtors dominate a market with corporate advertising and actually depress and devalue their territory by underpricing the homes. My experience with realtors is they are in an industry that no longer practices the art of salesmanship preferring to under price a house to move it in the market. Sellers pay both the buyer and seller commission and yet are getting no service from either. The selling realtor wants a listing to do open houses and get more clients and blames price if it doesn’t sell. The buyers realtor parades in qualified low ballers and lookup-loos through houses in a desperate attempt to generate business and blames the seller for not lowering the price enough so that he has to do his job as a salesman. All realtors would do well to remember who is paying their commission and learn the art of salesmanship. Setting the price is economics. Salesmanship is negotiation and marketing and motivation.

        • Anon:
          Yes, salesmanship is one of the reasons they’re being hired. That’s what I described in the post. And no, I don’t think you should price the house to sell quickly so I’m not sure how I got lumped into that group? However, there is a window that a house should sell and that depends on the market. If the house sells too quickly, unless it’s a competitive sellers’ market, the agent left money on the table. However, if it’s priced too high, and the house remains unsold longer than the competition, buyers start to wonder what’s wrong with it. The end result is several price drops. That’s the way the market behaves. If you’re priced too high for too long, and start to lower the price, buyers smell blood in the water and offer lowball contracts. That’s just market behavior and it’s very difficult for an agent to overcome. Best to price it right so that it compares to the houses for sale around it.

          You wrote:

          My experience with realtors is they are in an industry that no longer practices the art of salesmanship preferring to under price a house to move it in the market.

          Personally I disagree with that statement. I think the art of salesmanship is about all real estate agents have left. Most of our job functions have become automated, our specialized MLS data has become open source through Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. and salesmanship, customer service, and our experience with home construction and protecting clients from potential issues is about all we have left of any value. Keep in mind that I am referring to the talents of about 20% of the agent pool, the talented agents. I think the other 80% should be weeded out.

          • tired of dealing with the Zillow Hoes who just wait for the phone to ring! Fired our agent after 52 days. 20+ showings. No feedback. No effort. Now broker won’t call in order to complete the termination. Now what?

          • If the broker is in a franchise (big name real estate agency) then go above their heads. You can always inform the broker that if they don’t terminate the contract and make your MLS listing inactive then you’ll file a complaint with the state’s real estate license commission.

  4. Our home (in the middle GA area), which is rather large (nearly 7500 sq. ft) has been listed with a local agent and the listing will expire mid November 2015. While other agencies have shown our home, our agent, nor anyone in their company, has shown our home once during all that time. We have had some interest but it seems our agent is not spending any time contacting these potential buyers to see what the realtor can do to encourage them to entertain an offer. So glad the agreement is expiring so we can go with an agent that seems more hungry for the business!

    • Since it expires in November, if you have the ability, I suggest keeping it off the market til mid March. That’s the start of the buying season. By leaving it off, it will look like a fresh listing, with a new agency at the start of the height of the selling season. Spend the off-market time doing any improvements or yard improvements.

      Best of luck.

    • Don’t wait for it to expire. Fire the agent now. You will only accumulate days on market and this results in a lower sales price. Anyone can exit the real estate agreement. You can contact his broker ( your state licensing commission web site has a license lookup function which will tell you who the managing broker is) to discuss the problem. Perhaps the broker can motivate him, or other agents in the office who may have a client for the house.

      • I agree you shouldn’t wait too long. You are correct about the costs of waiting too long. But I think you should give them a chance to improve before firing them. But you have to manage them just like you would anyone else doing a service. If you hire a contractor to add on a room, you periodically inspect their work, the same goes for agents. If they don’t meet timelines or goals, fix it. If you can’t fix it then fire them. But, don’t fire them before the first month. It takes time for ads to run and promotions to kick in.

    • Fred:
      Sorry but we don’t service the Streetsboro, OH area. However, I suggest you look at our articles regarding “Hiring an Agent” and look at our tips for finding agents in your area. You can find the “Hiring an Agent” category on the blog home page’s right column or at the bottom of the page of any article.

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