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Did You Hear the One About the Agent Who Sold that Home…?

Blog Contributor Code of Ethics, Sales & Marketing, Sellers 15 Comments

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Dave Robison

By Dave Robison

Sometimes selling is complicated. Sometimes, a home can sit for weeks, months, even years before there’s so much as a bite. But with the right knowledge and dialogue, selling a home can be as easy as telling a buyer’s agent one simple thing. In 2011, I wrote a post about the power of one sentence to attract a client. Now, I’m going to let you in on another secret. Here’s how to sell a difficult home with just one line.

A few years ago, a seller in my local area called me and said, “Dave, I’ve had my home listed with my best friend for over a year. This is hard for me to do, but I need you to sell this house. Can you do it? Tell me the truth!”

To answer the question, I sold that home in one week to the first buyer who looked at it. Do you think it was luck? Not a chance.

Here’s how the conversation went with the agent who showed the home:

Agent: Dave, my buyer just saw your listing and it’s the first one he looked at. We have a lot of other homes scheduled to view and I wanted to ask, if you get anyone else interested in this property will you give me a call?

(Translation: We are going to shop around with your competition, are you cool with that?)

So to this I say, heck no I’m not cool with that! Why are agents telling buyers’ agents that they will call if they get offers? The Code of Ethics Article 1-15 specifically states: “REALTORS®, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property.” How many agents do you know who are technically breaking this rule by disclosing the existence of offers without sellers’ permission?  Did the agent call the seller and ask for permission to disclose that they don’t have offers on the table? There’s a good chance they didn’t.

So what did I say to the agent?

Dave: No.

Agent: (Long pause). Huh?

Dave: I don’t have permission to disclose the existence of offers.

BINGO! (And there’s your one line zinger).

Agent: You won’t let me know?

Dave: I may or may not have offers but either way, I will not give you a warning if the property is about to be sold. Just be sure to tell your buyers what I’ve said because if they wake up in the morning and notice the home is sold, I don’t want them to be mad at you—or me—for not warning them.”

Agent: Ohhhh. (Another long pause). So what you’re saying is that if they’re interested, I better get you an offer.

Within an hour, an offer was on the table.

Dave Robison, known as “Utah Dave,” is a broker/owner of Robison & Company Real Estate.

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Comments 15

  1. I have been an Exclusive Buyers Agent for 20 years and I would consider your response a “turn off”.

    I would never ask a listing agent to call me as that would be a waste of time for them. I would however like to get a straight answer if I asked if there were other offers and the agent should have asked that question when they took the listing.

    The thought of a seller not wanting another buyer to know if there is another offer is unrealistic….because buyers will almost always offer MORE if they think there is another offer on the table.

    Eve Alexander

  2. What a great agent! What a great and ethical way to represent your client. This is a true representation of agency and what it means to be an honest and ethical Realtor! You are my hero!

  3. Eve, you are right it is a turnoff to some agents. A few agents have said what you said. But as Kymberley said it…..its about representing your seller. And its in the code of ethics! Theres no reason for a seller to show you their cards if the buyer doesnt show theirs. Meaning, sure Ill tell you how many offers I have…right after you tell me how high your buyer is willing to pay. You can check out my blog and see homes that we sell for more than the neighbors largely in part to this script.

  4. Eve, some buyers will offer more. But just as many Buyersdon’t want to get into a bidding war and will cross that house off their list entirely. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. The New Mexico listing agreement asks the question up front and requires that the Seller make the decision as to whether the existence and terms of offers is divulged to other Brokers. Some brokers will address it on a case-by-case basis, with a written amendment, as the listing goes on.

  5. The Listing Agreement that I have with my client allows me to disclose the existence of other offers and whether or not they are direct. Of the 3 choices in item 9 of the Greater Boston RE Board Exclusive Right to Sell Agreement, this is the one I always recommend my sellers initial.

    Brokers who ask me to notify them if there’s other interest clearly don’t know what they’re doing and are, essentially, undermining their buyer-clients’ chances of getting the property they want. I will, in the future, tailor your response when this situation arises, as I am often dumbstruck by this question.

  6. What I usually answer, when asked “Do you have any offers” is simply that the property is still available. If an offer has been accepted, I say that one has been accepted (if I am allowed to do so). When I will not elaborate, it is because I cannot do so, either in recognition of my client’s best interest or due to my specific contractual obligations.

    I wrote a blog about this very topic, and the discussion was heated at times. http://activerain.com/blogsview/2084917/do-you-have-any-offers-yet-

  7. You can’t give that information away ! You put the house on the table for offers and you take offers, plain and simple. If someone wants to know what the other offers are or even IF they exist, THAT’S NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Your duty to your seller demands that you work in THEIR best interest NOT some poker player trying to squeeze info out of you. No way would I ever tell a prospect about the status of other offers. Put up or shut up.

  8. NOT IN CALIFORNIA. The listing agreement by C.A.R. (California Association of Realtors) has a built-in clause authorizing the Broker to disclose to any real estate licensee making an inquiry the receipt of any offers on the property and the offering price of such offers.
    It really helps to gauge the market to know what properties are getting 2, 12, 25 or 50 offers. We are in the 25’s and 50’s on # of offers received for properties listed in the $300,000s right now.

  9. I agree with your response which prompted an offer; however, You should discuss this when getting a listing agreement. You must discuss with the seller when and what you want to disclose to buyers. In Colorado an agent representing the seller is suppose to pursue and obtain the “best” offer. Once I get multiple offers I disclose to the buyer’s agents the facts, there is a better offer on the table, you have until “x” time to resubmit your offer. Call it what you want but the seller who I represent, gets to choose the highest and best offer and I fulfilled one of my many duties as their agent.
    Note: The better offer may be higher earnest money, close quicker, higher price, etc.

  10. I feel that many people that read this are missing the point. This house in particular had no interest for many years. An agent tells him that their buyer is interested but wants to look at other homes (shop around) because this was their first home that they have seen. So in order to not let this agent and buyer shop around while his listing sits there the listing agent said something very truthful and ethical and in turn got his seller an offer and sold the house. Sometimes people try to complicate things and make up what ifs and the point gets muddied up and lost. Keep it simple and see it for what it is.

  11. The BEST response to this question?

    “Get me your best offer as soon as you can.”

    It doesn’t disclose anything (unethically or against your seller’s wishes) but it certainly creates a sense of urgency!

  12. For clarification, I copy and pasted this from the NAR 2013 CODE OF ETHICS, ARTICLE 1, Standard of Practice 1-15

    REALTORS®, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property. Where disclosure is authorized, REALTORS® shall also disclose, if asked, whether offers were obtained by the listing licensee, another licensee in the listing firm, or by a cooperating broker. (Adopted 1/03, Amended 1/09)


  14. This topic is all very interesting and it highlights another reason that Code of Ethics should be one of the annual mandatory courses. Sure, it can get boring and some may say “why do I need to learn this stuff every year…I know it already!” But look around our association and office and you’ll see agents who write a lot of listings and sales contracts; then there are those who seldom write a listing or sales contract. Every time I attend or teach this course I don’t mind saying I learn something and that is the way it should be with something as important as COE. If you know the COE back-and-forth; good for you. But what about the agents you’ll be cooperating with to get that listing sold or that offer accepted and closed. The more everyone around you knows the easier the transaction will go and the better YOU will look to your clients. Remember this – things change; the attitude, knowledge, patience and demands of the clients we deal with are constantly changing and we must be as on top of our profession of managing “the most important purchase or sale most people will every make” by knowing what we can and can not do – “The Code!” I look forward to your comment pro or con.

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