A Realtor's first priority is negotiating the best price for a client's home

Friday , October 06, 2017 - 5:00 AM

JEN KIRCHHOEFER, special to the Standard-Examiner

Hey, potential home sellers — here’s an offer you can’t refuse! If I can’t sell your home in 30 days, I’ll buy it myself! Of course, various and sundry exclusions and indecipherable terminology and fine print apply.

In truth, “I” won’t buy it. This is actually not my campaign. But there are Realtors that do offer this. I heard one advertising this very thing on the radio the other day.

As Realtors, we spend an exorbitant amount of time in our vehicles. Much of the time, I’m on phone, using my hands-free device, of course. However, on rare occasions, I will turn on the radio and see what I’m missing. As it turns out, it isn’t much. I am missing a plethora of super-useful and informative advertisements, as well as an occasional traffic and weather report, but that’s about it.

This isn’t the first time I have heard this campaign. This was not even the first agent who has used this tactic. The “fine print” varies from agent to agent, but it invariably begs the question: Should the person who has offered to buy my home be the very one to determine the sales price? I’m just going to throw this out there, but is it possible that this tactic could pose a conflict of interest? After all, how would it feel to see your home, that your agent bought from you at “market value,” listed and sold by the same agent a few months later for much more?

A listing agent’s first priority to their client is to negotiate for the best price and terms for their client. The Realtor must meet a minimum standard of undivided loyalty, reasonable care, disclosure and obedience to lawful instruction. This scenario doesn’t look like it fits well into this minimum standard.

In reality, few agents actually end up purchasing their clients’ homes. For the most part, it is a gimmick (I’m sure I’m going to get hate mail for that term) to get in the door of a potential seller’s home. The seller agrees to lower the list price every so many days (determined in the contract) until the home sells or until it reaches a previously agreed upon list price at which the agent will then purchase it him or herself. Trust me, there is not a Realtor with even a single working brain cell that would overpay for a listing. If so, they really have no business being in the business.

Several years ago, I had a listing that was difficult to sell. It was a small house that needed some work. I had advised a price reduction, but my client had resisted. She wanted to give it another week at list price. Three days later, she contacted me and told me that her sister’s agent told her he could sell it in three days. At her request, I released the listing.

True to his word, this agent did sell it in less than three days. Of course, my client dropped price $20,000, which was much more than it needed to be dropped to sell; $5000 would have done the trick. Most of us could sell ice to an Eskimo for the right price.

On second thought, maybe “I” will buy it. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal. I could use some hugely discounted income property that I can turn around and sell next year for thousands more. Well, it’s a sweet deal for me anyway. Just not the seller.

Not really a win/win, is it?

Jen Kirchhoefer is a Layton Realtor. She can be reached at jenkirchh@gmail.com

Sign up for e-mail news updates.