Top Agents Even Treat Each Other Like Idiots

Have you ever heard of TAN (Top Agent Network)? It is doubtful, unless you are a top producing real estate agent. According to their website…

Top Agent Network (TAN) is the private online community where the verified top 10% real estate agents in local markets collaborate & exchange valuable Non-MLS information. These advance communications help TAN members sell more homes while attracting more clients.

The only thing we know for sure about top producing real estate agents is that they sell a lot of homes. From that we can infer that they are exceptionally good at marketing THEMSELVES. Top producing agents may or may not be any good at their supposed fiduciary duty: looking out for the best interest of their clients. Since most home sellers are ignorant of the home-selling process, even if these top producers were short-changing their clients, they would have no way of knowing it (or proving it).


The supposed purpose of TAN is to leverage these top agent’s success to garner an even larger share of the real estate pie. By creating this private online community, these top agents can keep their deals hidden from the other 90% of losers, er, agents who are not part of their elite inner circle. And how do they accomplish this feat? By keeping their listings off their local MLS (Multiple Listing Service), and I assume, off of the third-party sites like Trulia and Zillow.

I am certain that these top agents understand that by hiding their listings from 90% of the agents, the MLS and the third-party sites, they are severely limiting their exposure, which most assuredly results in lower prices for the home. In other words, it screws the home seller, and is a clear violation of their fiduciary duty and their code of ethics.

Now, real estate agents wanting more business for themselves and screwing home sellers is not, in and of itself, news. That has been going on for years. What is interesting about TAN is how they go about trying to convince these top producers to join their little clique. From their website, they explain “How Pre- and Non-MLS Marketing Serves Sellers:”

Greater ease finding properties for buyers. How does that serve sellers? It helps the TAN agent’s buyers by eliminating all the other buyers.

More strategic marketing options for sellers. By strategic, I think they mean “limited.”

Whether by word of mouth or through ad-hoc meetings… Yes, that is how I want to market my home in the age of Internet technology, word of mouth and ad-hoc meetings.

I am shocked to see how TAN uses these perverted twists of logic to try and attract members. I am sure this BS would work on home sellers, but other top agents? Maybe they have been dishing it out so long, it is the only thing they know to do. I can tell you this for certain: the next time I hire a real estate agent to list my home I will inquire as to whether they are a member of TAN. And if they proudly respond that they are, I will proudly respond adios.

To learn how to keep more or your hard-earned equity when you sell your home, check out The Intelligent Home Seller eBook and The Intelligent Home Seller eCourse.

Why Most Home Sellers Pick The First Agent

Studies show that two thirds of home sellers only speak with one real estate agent before settling on one to list their home. Hell, the real estate industry even advertises this fact. And of course, they try to use it to their advantage.

66percentWhy do most home sellers choose the first agent they come across? Because most home sellers have no idea how to tell a good one from a bad one so why bother interviewing them. I imagine that most home sellers do not know a single question to ask a real estate agent. (Well, maybe one: What’s your commission.)

You are going to hire a real estate agent and pay them $10K or $20K or $30K to sell your home. You should know how to tell a good one from a lousy one. My suggestion is that you think of hiring a real estate agent to sell your home the same way you think about hiring a temp employee to work for your company. Would you hire the first temp employee that walked into your office, or would review their resume and ask them some probing questions?

Perhaps you are too intimidated by real estate agents to ask tough questions. Maybe you think you will insult them. You won’t. Successful, experienced agents even encourage you to interview multiple agents. Their thinking is that if you interview enough agents, the good ones will start to stand out…and they are right.

Perhaps you want to ask tough questions but just don’t know any to ask. Okay, I will give you a few to get your started.

1. What if I am not satisfied with your service? What recourse do I have?
2. What unique marketing techniques do you use, that other agents may not, to generate extra traffic?
3. What are some things a home seller should definitely NOT spend money on when preparing their home for sale?

While asking these questions (and others) of a single agent is better than nothing, what is really beneficial is asking the same questions to more than one agent. The power of interviewing more than one agent is the ability to get different answers to the same question. Comparing answers is the real secret to choosing the best agent. I am confident that if you ask several agents the same question, one of their answers will make you feel more comfortable than the others. And if you find an agents who gives you a lot of answers that make you feel comfortable, that is your agent.

The biggest mistake you can make when selling your home is to hire a lousy real estate agent. And you cannot tell a good one from a bad one without asking some hard-hitting questions. To find more insightful interview questions visit the Resources area at




To learn how to keep more or your hard-earned equity when you sell your home, check out The Intelligent Home Seller eBook and The Intelligent Home Seller eCourse.

Why Home Buyers and Sellers Are So Careless With Their Money

Imagine you want to buy a $1000 couch. Just before you get ready to plunk down your money you hear of a sale on the same couch for 50% off. The couch is selling somewhere else for $500, but it is a 30 minute drive away. Would you go buy the couch on sale? Of course you would. It is a pretty nice savings and worth the hassle of a one hour round trip. After all, very few people make $500 for an hour’s work.

flatscreenNow imagine you are selling your $400,000 home. You are negotiating with they buyer and they want a $700 concession on the sale price of the home for some minor repair which you feel is not necessary. You know that if you push back and refuse the concession it will not kill the deal. Would you push back? Interestingly, most people would not. They do not want the hassle of negotiating such a “minor” concession and just want to get on with the deal.

Do you see the irony in the two stories above? Most people would be willing to endure an hour’s worth of traffic (plus the cost of gas) to save $500 but not 10 minutes of additional negotiating to save $700. Why is that?

It is called the relativity trap, and it causes us to make bad choices because of the comparisons we use in making those choices. For instance, with the couch above, the savings ($500) compared to the price ($1000) is huge, and is a substantial percentage (50%) of the total. Therefore, we give it a lot of importance and make realizing the savings very important. On the other hand, with the home, the savings ($700) is way less than 1% of the total ($400,000). Consequently, we diminish the importance of the savings and plough ahead with the deal. In essence, we focus more on the percentage of the savings than the actual dollar amount, and that is a mistake.

This cognitive bias we all have to care more about the percentage than the actual amount can be very costly when buying or selling a home. There is really no way to combat it, other than to train yourself to look at the dollar amount and ignore the percentage. One thing that might help is when you do look at the dollar amount, do not compare it to the total amount of the deal, but rather compare it to something of equal value. For instance, in the example above, think of the $700 as a new 50” flat screen TV for your home. Is that worth an extra ten minutes of negotiating? It sure will be on Super Bowl Sunday.

So, the next time you are in the market to buy or sell a home, do your best to combat the relativity trap. It is a safe bet the people you are negotiating with do not know about its effects, which puts you at a big advantage. Maybe if you get really good at it, you can afford a new barbecue to go along with your new flat screen TV.


To learn how to keep more or your hard-earned equity when you sell your home, check out The Intelligent Home Seller eBook and The Intelligent Home Seller eCourse.

A Little Secret About Selecting a Real Estate Agent Most Home Sellers Don’t Know

When it comes to choosing a real estate agent to sell your home, you basically have two choices. You can choose an agent who works for one of the well-known national brokerages like Century 21 and ReMax, or you can choose one who works for a local, independent brokerage. Some of these local brokerages are just a one person shop.


Now, if you are like most home sellers, you will opt for an agent who works for one of the big, national chains. You probably like the vague feeling of comfort you get seeing a recognizable corporate logo on the agent’s business card. And you probably assume there is some marketing advantage to using one of these big companies. But you would be making a terrible mistake that could cost you thousands of dollars.

Let me tell you how the real estate industry works. When a person first decides to become a real estate agent, they know nothing about selling real estate, they know nothing about marketing themselves and they generally have very little money. That is where the big, national brokerages come in. They cater to neophyte agents. They provide them with a desk, a telephone, business cards and sales training. In exchanges for all these goodies, the brokerage takes 50% (or more) of any commission the new agent makes from the sale of a home. (This money grab creates a perverse twist of logic in which the broker would rather you list your home with one of their less experienced agents because the broker makes more money.)

Over time some of these neophyte agents become excellent, experienced agents. They are good at selling homes, they are good at marketing themselves and they no longer need the brand recognition or all of the goodies provided by the national chains. And they sure as heck do not need their broker taking a big chunk of their commission. So, what do some of these excellent agents do? They strike out on their own—either by themselves or with a small, independent company. Being an independent allows them to keep more (or all) of their commission.

The little secret home sellers should know is that when you choose an agent at an independent brokerage, you are almost guaranteed to be getting an excellent, experienced agent. While working with one at the national brokerages you are far more likely to get an inexperienced agent. But there is an even better reason to work with an independent agent.

You are far more likely to negotiate a lower commission with an independent agent for two reasons. First, no matter how low a commission you offer to an independent agent, they have the option to accept it. Second, because their broker is not taking a big chunk of their commission, they can afford to reduce their rate and still do very well.

In general, agents at the national brokerages do not have the luxury of accepting a negotiated commission. Even though a new agent could really benefit from taking a listing, any listing, at any commission, even a negotiated commission, their broker will not allow them to accept it. The national brokers are more concerned about protecting their commission structure than they are about the financial and professional well being of one of their agents. They are counting on sellers who are willing to pay more for an inferior product because of their name. But you do not have to play that game.

The bottom line: you can get a better, more experience agent at a lower commission by going with a local, independent brokerage. You just may have to deal with an unrecognizable logo.

To see how ReaListing helps you find local, independent agents, click here.

To learn how to keep more or your hard-earned equity when you sell your home, check out The Intelligent Home Seller eBook and The Intelligent Home Seller eCourse.