When a real estate agent, who you are considering hiring to help you sell your home, tells you they already have a buyer for your home, the only thing you can be sure of is that they don’t. There are only two reasons why an agent would tell a prospective home seller they already have a buyer: 1) they want the listing bad enough to lie or 2) they want to keep it off the MLS so they can get both commissions.
According to an article in the Westport News,
“There are more licensed agents in Westport and Weston, Connecticut, than there are transactions each year,” Coldwell Banker agent Evi Coghlan reports. The result? Homeowners get ‘bait and switch’ letters from real estate agents who claim to have out-of-state buyers who want to live on their street. “The agents’ purpose in sending hundreds of these a month to every neighborhood in town is to get an audience with owners who are likely to be selling their homes soon, so that they may develop an inside track to becoming the listing agent,” Coghlan says. “Mysteriously, after you meet the agent who authored one of these letters, the (out-of-state) buyers … ‘change price ranges’ or ‘find another house’ or ‘decide not to relocate after all.’ “Most sellers don’t even realize the buyers were never real,” Coghlan says.
It does not shock me that in the ultra-competitive world of residential real estate that some agents might stretch the truth to get a listing. What does surprise me is that home sellers believe it. I suppose some home sellers actually believe that agents carry buyers around in their back pocket like a wallet, pulling out just the right one for each home seller.
At the end of the day, this is not a real estate agent ethics problem. It is a home seller education problem. Home sellers need to be reminded that until their home is actually for sale, with photos and asking price, that NOBODY has a buyer for their home. Because it is not for sale.
Very few home sellers know how to tell a good real estate agent from a bad one. It can be challenging. And while it may be difficult to find a good one, sometimes it is just enough to know how to quickly spot a bad one. If an agent is willing to lie to get the listing, you have to ask yourself “what will they do to get it sold?” I think a good rule of thumb is when an agent tells you they already have a buyer for your home – run like hell.