Beware the desperate agent looking for a quick sale

The conditions in the SA residential property market, warns Tony Clarke, MD of Rawson Properties, have made some of the less successful agents desperate – and this, he says, can be dangerous for sellers.

Clarke said that he is now regularly approached for advice from property sellers who accuse their agents of acting unethically. (Fortunately, he added, these complaints almost never relate to agents in the Rawson Group.)

“A situation which, it appears, is now cropping up regularly, “he said, “is that the agent undervalues the home to achieve a quick sale so that he can collect his commission. Some agents are now desperate and will resort to this tactic to get hold of much needed earnings.”

In one case, said Clarke, the agent compounded the crime by bringing down the price radically and then selling it to a relative.

In the circumstances, said Clarke, sellers would be well advised to go through a preliminary question list with a prospective agent.

“They should be asked whether they have passed the new NQF examinations, what their track record has been over the past year and what market research they can produce to justify their valuations.”

“The buyer should also insist in getting the agent’s latest sales-to-listing ratio and a separate report on how the price achieved compared to the listed price.” These two reports, said Clarke, will show just how professional the agent is – or is not.

He added that if there is any private connection between the agent and the buyer or seller this should be revealed to all involved in the deal.

Above all, he said, do try and work with an agent from a branded, reputable company, which has a reputation to maintain. The big advantage of this, he said, is that there is always someone in a more senior position to whom you can appeal.

Finally, Clarke advised buyers and sellers to avoid the bullying agent at all costs – the one who tries to reach his goals by bulldozing clients.

“This type of agent will time and again leave a disappointed client behind him. It requires tact and empathy to handle so personal a matter as the sale of a family’s home. Agents have a duty to put their client’s interests first and to enhance the reputation of the profession by being sympathetic.”

In an earlier statement, Clarke has said that he expects the number of agents in SA to drop by 50% as a result of the examinations which are now obligatory and the current slower sales tempo – but he has also said he expects a revival to become evident from about midway through 2009.

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