From Listed to SOLD - How to Sell Those Listings You Work So Hard to Get!


"The Seller Has a Friend Who Will List it Really Cheap"


Got a question yesterday from an agent who was referred to a potential seller by an acquaintance.  However, the acquaintance warned the agent (let's call him Sam) that the seller has a "friend who will list the house really cheap," so Sam may not have a chance at procuring the listing.

Sam asked me how I would approach the situation - how would I respond if the topic of commission comes up in their initial phone conversation? And how would I go about persuading the seller that I'm worth my "full" fee and that the "friend" may not even be worth her discounted one?

Wanna know what I told him? Okay, twist my arm.

First, I always recommend that we be upfront about what we charge if asked. I don't believe in deflecting the issue because it puts us in the position of being a salesperson instead of the professional advisor I feel we are. So, if Mr. Seller were to say "Sam, what do you charge to sell a home?" I'd advise Sam to answer the question without hesitation. No hemming, no hawing, no creative avoidance. Just get it out there on the table.

"My fee is X% to sell a home, which includes the buyer agent's fee of Y%"

If the seller responds with "Well, I have a friend who will do it for X-minus-2%..." Sam can say: "That's great - and that might be the best deal for you. But I'd still be happy to get together and talk about your situation, so you can be sure you're making the right decision. No pressure, I promise. And I'll respect whatever decision you make."

Reverse psychology ("that may be the best deal for you") works great here!

If the seller agrees to meet with you, that means he's probably open to paying your fee, if you can prove you're worth it.

And as you probably know if you read much of my stuff, that's a BIG DEAL to me - actually being WORTH the fee you charge... and knowing you're worth that fee. Getting the point of being and knowing you're worth it might take some time and soul-searching, but it's well-worth every minute.

(And by the way, BEING worth your fee has nothing to do with how much you NEED that fee).

Anyway, I digress.  Next question - once you're face to face with the seller - should you address the issue of your competition's lower fee head-on?

Whatcha' think? (I'll share my thoughts tomorrow.)


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Comment balloon 29 commentsJennifer Allan-Hagedorn • March 08 2010 06:44AM


Jennifer.....we run across that all the time....I tell my team members to meet with the seller and do  their presentation....the end results are usually in our favor.

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired ) over 10 years ago

If the seller has a friend I let them list with the friend and wish them good luck. I have had sellers call me for an appointment get an idea of price and then say they have a friend who is not from the area so they just wanted to know the market value..

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 10 years ago

HA!  Only half of the hypothetical is ever going to happen. 

It doesn't appear that the potential seller contacted the agent about listing their home for sale.

IMO, these scenarios are the product of someone manipulating the seller and the agent trying to get them together despite the fact that the seller has a close friend who has alread discounted their fee for their friend.

The statement "If the seller agrees to meet with you, that means he's probably open to paying your fee, if you can prove you're worth it."  isn't supported by anything other than wishful thinking.

That seller is a member of that agent/friend's sphere of influence and the likelihood of a friend risking a friend and agree to pay more for it is unlikely in the extreme. 

Assuming the hypothetical that they agreed to meet is true, perhaps they just don't know how to say "NO".  But, then what?????

Promoting listing services is one thing, interjecting yourself between friends is another. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Uh that's not fair to leave us with a cliffhanger!  It is definitely best to get your foot in the door regardless.  It is an awesome feeling to be able to beat the "No Service" companies because we all know that you get what you pay for!  I just closed on a house in January that was limited service and we beat up the seller on every front to get what we wanted...we never would have been able to accomplish that with a good agent in the way!  Oh well, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR MR SELLER!

Posted by Sara Homan, Realtor, Homes, Farms & 55+ (Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty 352-209-4044) over 10 years ago

The first place a cut is evident is in the marketing expense....all sales are numbers...fewer sales...hmmm

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 10 years ago

Thanks for sharing!!  I agree with you to answer the question head on versus beating around the bush!  Consumers appreciate it and if the commission is the number one reason for their decision then the value of the agent and their marketing expertise is not worth discussing...

Posted by Lauren Briles (The Briles Company) over 10 years ago

Sally & David & Sara - As you'll see in my follow-up blog, I don't really subscribe to the notion that you get what you pay for and that someone who "does it cheap" is necessarily going to cut services. They MIGHT, but they might not - and that comes from my background of owning a full-service discount company. So stay tuned!

Lenn - good points... but I shall respectfully disagree... if what you're saying is that Sam is wasting his time meeting with the sellers...

Gita - Yes, this is a possibility, but it's not always the case. If an agent has motivated sellers beating down his door, then perhaps it makes sense to refuse these opportunities, but if not... why assume the worst?

Barbara - Very often!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 10 years ago

What aggravates me is that these people with "friends" do call other agents, implying that they are going to list their home with them, just to get a CMA. Then after you've spent a good couple of hours getting one together, they say "Well my friend is going to list the home...but thanks! Your price was just about the same as Joe's!"

The aggravating part is this - if you didn't trust your friend's judgement...why would you list with him/her?

If you trust your friend, why waste another agent's time, esp. with subterfuge?  (not saying that happened here in the case of the OP...but it has happened.)  Well of course the deception is necessary because no agent will give you a free CMA if you tell them flat out you have no intention of listing with them.

The games people play...

Posted by Karen Rice, Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales (Davis R. Chant, REALTORS) over 10 years ago

I think hit is head on regarding the commission structure....they can ask..we can answer...I really think with scripts it can be over come...and lets face it...Listings are never a "given"  we have to over come objections on every single one we get.....To knwo what the objection is going on gives us the edge...

Posted by Deborah Byron Leffler BzyBee Real Estate Lady! (Keller Williams Realty Boise) over 10 years ago

I just spoke with someone regarding that specific scenario just last evening.  He wanted me to help out his inlaws, although they had a friend of 40 years with whom they are planning to list.  My friend told me that he felt that was not in their best interest and suggested I call them.  No thanks.  Let their dear old friend list the property.  I am not interjecting myself into this.  I would be second-guessed at every turn and the grousing from the dear old friend to the sellers would make them very unhappy.  I know that I am worth my commission, but I know when to leave well enough alone, too. 

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) over 10 years ago

......... hmmm, Mr seller, in order to get the best price for your home you need a powerfull negotiator, do you agree? Answer - Yes.  Well Mr seller, if another agent can't even negotiate a full commission on their own behalf, how successful do you think they will be negotiating the best offer for your house? ........ Let me show you my marketing plan that I can customize to meet your needs.

Posted by Mike Mitchell, REALTOR (R) (Real Living Kee Realty) over 10 years ago

Myself in this scenario:  I would do my best to secure an appointment with the seller(s).  I find that sellers don't always know all that is involved in selling a property, and when our extensive marketing plan is layed out for them, the seller starts to listen.  When listening, the seller begins to compare what the "friend" has offered or explained and wonders if the "friend" is the best choice.  It actually is an excellent opportunity as "friends" don't usually give a "full blown" listing presentation as they believe they have a "shoe in" listing.  It is a time to put out your best presentation and let the chips fall where they fall.  The objections to increased commissions have been easier to overcome in the recent market climate as sellers REALLY need professional, experienced, & skilled agents to maximize the likelihood of a home sale.  If the "friend" can provide this same service and professionalism and at a less cost to the seller, then that is their best choice and we should be happy the seller can save some money for themselves. 


Posted by Marie Episale, ePRO 201-314-0106 - Pompton Plains New Jersey (CENTURY 21 CREST REAL ESTATE) over 10 years ago

Ignorance is not bliss however, and agents should be careful about knocking the services of some of the discount brokerages without knowing how their fee structures work or how they can charge so little for the full service options they offer. Slamming other agents is never good business practice and in the long run doesn't make you look like the professional that you are.  Educating the seller, like you have suggested, Jennifer, is excellent and portraying yourself as a professional and selling your services in their best light is always a great thing.  I'll look forward to tomorrow's post.

Posted by June Piper-Brandon, Piecing Dreams One Home at a Time (Houwzer Inc) over 10 years ago

I do feel I am being used at times just to get my views but that is part of the business.

Posted by Pat O'Reilly (RE/MAX..214-289-6176 Irving and all of Dallas Fort Worth) over 10 years ago

June - Absolutely. Criticizing other agents' offerings is never a good idea... if asked, you can comment... albeit very carefully...

Marie - I like your attitude!!!!

Mike - If you can pull that off without sounding cheesy, it's a good argument. Trouble is - whenever it's been used on me, I have to admit I haven't felt respected by the person making that argument.

Suzanne - Very good point - I hadn't thought of that angle!

Deborah - I don't much like scripts, but if you have the confidence that you ARE the best (wo)man for the job, the right words will probably roll right off your tongue...

Karen - I really do think we overthink the deviousness of our prospects. In most cases, I just can't believe that they're trying to pull one over on us; they're just trying to make the best decision for their situation. And if that decision is to go with their friend, so be it! But I can't say that I ever felt "used" by anyone - if they didn't hire me, I just assume that they had a good reason not to, aside from trying to waste my time or use my expertise.

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 10 years ago

Pat - I agree - it's part of the process. I certainly interview more than one service provider when I'm making a hiring decision and often I'm pretty sure who I'm going to hire. Does that mean I used the other contenders? Would they have preferred that I not call them and give them the opportunity?

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 10 years ago

I have found people respond positively when I use Mike's approach.  I preface the conversation by telling them I know they want to net the most most money, and respect whatever they decide......then I tell them why I'm worth it.

Posted by Ann Allen Hoover, CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL (RE/MAX Advantage South) over 10 years ago

I think that validating the sellers thought that the best deal for him might be the cut rate, in in discussing my marketing with that seller I would never say anything negative about the agent who does cut his rate. The whole discussion should be all about doing each step of the marketing process a little bit better than anyone else and about getting it priced right in the first place.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 10 years ago

Jennifer that is a great response that I will tattoo on my arm.  Not really but I need to remember it.

When I get a cold call that I feel like isn't going to go anywhere on a potential listing, I want to ask, which of our services that we give to you would you like us to cut?   So should we not put it into the 3 real estate advertising books we use?  Or how about missing the daily news paper?  How about just 1 pic on can go on and on.


Posted by KAREN SANCHEZ, ...Marketing your home like no one else will. ( Hamilton Landon Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Jennifer I don't agree with Mike, I think we need to deal with each individual situation as it comes our way. We come across so many people, personalities and sales opportunities it is not possible to have a canned answer to anything. In the case of the friend I would probably use the approach to the seller with two options, once the listing has expired if the friend is unsuccessful in selling it I would be happy to present my marketing plan to you or if you decide not to use the friend I would like the chance to show you what you can expect from me. If I was asked about my fee I would tell them. Since they are no ones client yet I would give them my phone number, my email address, and my web address and tell them I look forward to hearing from them or hearing that their property sold. I believe that people are capable of making decisions for themselves without being manipulated to make them. Not being a hard core sales person I certain that I lose some opportunties but that is ok. I'm bound to get some and lose some anyway.

Posted by Sally Morris, SOLD IS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY (Greenwood Realty ( Greenwood SC )) over 10 years ago

Karen - It's tempting to ask those questions, but I believe it's a slippery slope. First, I never want to get into an argument about how much I spend on marketing and what percentage of my fee that is - since so much of what we do really isn't quantifiable in dollars and cents. Also, from a professionalism perspective - I don't want to ask my sellers how they'd like me to market their home - I'm the expert, so I will tell THEM what needs to be done and DO it.

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 10 years ago

Sally - You and I think very much alike!

Glenn - shhhhhhh.... you're stealing my stuff (lol)

Ann - You're probably sweet enough to pull it off without sounding pushy!!! I'm not, so if I tried to use that approach, I don't think it would come across positively.

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 10 years ago

I really do think it's all about getting the best deal for the client -- whether that happens to be from me or not!  I would absolutely want to do my listing presentation after having secured an appointment with words similar to those you suggested.  In addition, I would ask who the friend is.  If it's someone I know and know how they do business, I may just agree that they have the best person for the job and step aside.

It could be a case where the friend is a perfectly competent agent and has decided to cut their commission simply out of friendship.  I have ( a very few) friends I would consider doing that for.

Why would I do a listing presentation even if I was pretty sure they were going to list with the friend anyway?  I have had some really interesting referrals.  And it would not surprise me if at some point the friend was no longer an agent I started getting all the client's referrals for no reason other than having treated them well and validated their original choice in agent.

Posted by Sally Lawrence, Broker, CHS, e-Pro, SFR, REALTOR® (Advantage Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Can't wait to hear the next thought tomorrow.  Yes - I was advised since I started to not apologize for my fee.  Do the work and show why you're worth it.

Posted by Jill Schmidt over 10 years ago

No one is getting any money of the house doesn't sell, who ever can ge the job done is the best agent to choose!

Posted by Bridget Cella, e-Pro, Realtor (Re/Max Connection) over 10 years ago

Here's the follow-up!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 10 years ago

The question that keeps popping into my head is this:  WHY is the seller seeking out other agents?  Perhaps the seller isn't all that confident that going with the "cheaper" agent is the right way to go.  Karen (#8) brings up a possible scenario, which has happened to me before. (no likey subterfuge, but it sometimes comes with the territory!)

Here's the thing...If they want what we have to offer, but don't want to pay for it, we don't have to take the listing.  If, on the other hand, they are willing to pay a higher fee to receive services that the friend does not offer, their reason for seeking out other agents' opinions/services may be to 1) find the agent who will do the job the way the sellers want it done and 2) to give them some substantial reasons to tell their friend why they won't be hiring them.

None of these questions can really be answered until we communicate with the seller.

Posted by Kim Brown, Keene, NH - New England at its Best! (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago that I posted that, I suppose I should go read your follow-up.  LOL!!

Posted by Kim Brown, Keene, NH - New England at its Best! (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

I think your dirrect approach is the best way... But you do have to be prepared with why you are worth it! 

Many agents get caught up in worrying about it, could it be that they do not think they are worth it them selves?  you need to believe in yourself first before a seller will believe in you!

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 10 years ago

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