No, I don’t mean make fun of yourself, push yourself around, call yourself names, and maybe even do some physical harm.
I mean, “Can you bully your own real estate listing?”
If you’re holding back offers on a property you have listed, can you then submit a “bully offer” on behalf of your own buyer client?
Oh, it happens, believe it or not…
There has GOT to be a rule against it.
But then again, when you’re playing a game that has very few rules, you can’t really critique the few rules you do have, can you?
How in the world can a listing agent be allowed to submit a bully offer on his or her own listing?
It just makes no sense to me.
Having said that, a very experienced and forthright agent told me earlier this week, “It’s my listing, I can do whatever the f*** I want with it, and there’s nobody who’s going to tell me otherwise.”
But then why do we have the “Multiple Listing Service,” where the underlying theme is that we share listings, and cooperate with one another?
I’m not naive enough to suggest that a little bit of backroom-dealing doesn’t go on in organized real estate, or in basically any industry out there today. But if you submitted a bully offer on your own listing, and sold it to your own buyer out from under dozens of other buyers then we don’t really “cooperate” with “cooperating agents,” do we?
Over the last few years, I’ve cast a light on many bad practices in the industry, but there are two of these practices that some brokers openly admit to:
1) Office Double-Enders, With Help!
When a brokerage has a listing for sale, that listing generates multiple offers, and that brokerage is representing a buyer with one of the offers, some brokers will come right out and say, “Of course I’m going to help my own agent, it’s our listing! Why wouldn’t I?”
When we see the same companies “double-ending” their listings in multiple offers, over and over, we all know what’s really going on. But several of these brokerages freely admit that they “push” their offer to the top of the pack, ie. they review eight offers, then “review” the 9th offer, which is their own, and add $2,000, and “win.”
2) Not Re-Listing Higher.
When a seller has his or her property listed for sale at $499,900, and turns down an offer of $505,000, that seller MUST re-list the property at $505,001, otherwise be guilty of false advertising. One very well-known brokerage out there has told our brokerage multiple times, “I simply disagree,” and continues to advertise prices falsely.
Well as the topic of discussion today might suggest, I’d like to add a third “accepted bad practice” to the list:
3) Bullying Your Own Listing
I have a problem with the whole “bully offer” idea in the first place, which I’ve made clear on this blog a couple of times this year.
If you say you’re going to review offers on March 9th at 7:30pm, at the house, with the seller, and ask agents to please register their offers by 5:30pm at the latest, and be on time to present, then why sell the house on March 2nd?
Earlier in the spring, the bully offers were out of control. You’d see two listings come out on a Tuesday, with offer apparently being reviewed the following Wednesday, but you knew you had to see them that night, since they could get a bully offer and sell out from under you.
Then you had all the novice (or lazy, carefree, and unafraid) listing agents accepting a bully offer but failing to inform other agents who had shown the property that there was a registered offer!
It was absolute mayhem, and I hated every minute of it.
But what if you were to combine #1 and #3 on this list?
Take two bad real estate practices, and turn them into one?
So here’s the situation:
Bob the listing agent puts out 123 Fake Street on Thursday, July 3rd, at $799,900.
Offers are scheduled to be reviewed on Wednesday, July 9th at 7:00pm, at the listing brokerage.
On Thursday and Friday, there are 25 showings from “cooperating agents,” and a lot of agents email Bob and ask for the home inspection, ask what the sellers’ preferred closing date is, and tell Bob to “keep them in the loop.”
On Saturday morning, Bob shows the house to a client of his own, and the client says, “I want to buy this house, let me know what it will take, and I’ll pay it.”
Bob then drafts an offer for $910,000, brings it to his sellers, and the seller accepts.
Bob changes the MLS listing to reflect the property is no longer “available” and now “sold,” and reports the $910,000 sale price.
Is that okay with you?
Because it is NOT okay with me.
And the worst part is: there’s nothing in the two-page virtual “organized real estate rule book” to prevent Bob from doing that.
Oh I’m sure there’s a rule a, and a rule b, and a rule c, all of which might loosely apply.
But there’s nothing specifically relevant to this situation under REBBA, 2002, and there’s no real repercussions for Bob.
Bob doesn’t really have to answer to anybody, either. When Bob gets calls from “cooperating agents,” who ask, “What happened to the July 9th offer date? Why didn’t you call me? I told you to keep me in the loop! My buyers are pissed!” All Bob has to do is say, “My seller elected to look at the offer, and subsequently he accepted it. He was not interested in attempting to solicit other offers.”
And that’s that.
So f*** everybody then?
Is that the takeaway from this story? Should agents just do as they please, and damn the consequences?
I know dozens, or perhaps a couple hundred really impressive, professional, friendly, and honest Realtors that I tell at the end of a transaction, “I really, really enjoyed working with you, and I mean that.”
And then, there’s about 35,000 others…
It’s getting slimy out there, folks. And the discount brokerages, which a small percentage of the population thinks is helping to offer “alternative business models,” are watering down the industry to the point where a monkey at the zoo could do a better job.
To be fair, I did say that a couple of well-known brokerages are guilty of items #2 and #3 on my list of accepted bad practices, but I’m seeing a lot of inexperienced and/or agents who are desperate to put food on the table and stay afloat in this business who are cutting corners and pulling off some shady moves.
Double-ending your own listing via bully offer, before the scheduled and posted offer date, when there’s a public open house on Saturday & Sunday, and when there have been 25 showings booked through your office, and two home inspections conducted by interested buyers, is NOT okay.
I simply refuse to accept otherwise.