Home seller questions agent motives


Reader Question: We used a buyer agent to find a new home. Now we need to sell our home. We got him to look at our house. The lower commission does not seem to motivate him, and he is not interested in us now that we have concluded buying a home. He wants to dump it for about 30k less than Zillow has it appraised it. He has indicated his buddy may be interested, so he is trying to double-end a quick, cheap sale. It only benefits him and his friend. We are just really shocked how this once great agent has so quickly changed his attitude and not sure what to do about it. Are we bound to him in any way through the buyer contract for six months?

Monty’s Answer: Not having read the contract, or hearing the agent’s side of the story, there are two different versions I can envision here. Rather than pick one, allow me to share both.

Version One

I am unaware of any state that ties the sale of a customer’s old home to the buyer agency agreement. You have completed the contract. Not knowing all the circumstances, the contract you signed may contain the answer to your question. You should consult with your attorney if there is mention of your old home in this document.

Agent behavior

There are many possibilities for the lack of interest in the house. Here are a few of them:

  1. Agents specialize in listing or selling property, but not both.
  2. Agents specializing by price point.
  3. Agents refusing listings priced out of the market.
  4. Agents only working like-new property.
  5. Some agents are weak when delivering bad news.
  6. Agent may be following the direction of a misguided coach.
  7. Some agents use real estate contacts as an investment lead generator.

Version Two

Several websites offer an opinion of value. Many of them qualify that opinion in the small print. Some consumers take these valuation opinions at face value, which is extremely risky. Did a Zillow representative walk through your home? There is a reasonable chance the Zillow estimate may be incorrect. This “great agent” may be walking away because he has rendered his opinion, and you have rejected it. Anecdotally, home sellers have shared with me that a listing agent used an online estimate to obtain a listing. In my opinion, agents that are too lazy or take that shortcut to save time should be subject to enforcement action.    

A Recommendation

You could be right-on with your analysis. But your belief in an online appraisal caused an objectivity concern. It is natural for a home seller to feel that their home is worth more than the market dictates. A second opinion, and maybe a third, from agents that will walk through your home and deliver a written document, is needed. Here is a link on how to pick an agent from three finalists.