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How NOT to Choose a Realtor

Posted July 28th, 2008 under smart buying, smart selling, myths and truths.

For the longest time, it has puzzled me why some Realtors use unrealistic, gimmicky slogans — and more importantly, why people keep falling for them!

Here are my top ten reasons NOT to choose a Realtor, preserved in their original “slogan form” for easy recognition.

1) “If I don't sell your home in 30 days, I'll buy it myself!”

There has to be a catch, right? Ask this Realtor what price they'll buy your property for, and whether there are any conditions (such as dropping your asking price before the 30 days are up).

If somebody is going to guarantee that they will buy your property, they must know they're getting a good deal. But, if the price is attractive, why limit yourself to a market of one by selling to your Realtor? Why not put that attractive price on your listing and see what sort of offers come in?

This gimmick seems appealing because it feels like an ‘insurance policy’ — no matter what happens, my home will be sold within 30 days. But, what does it say about your Realtor that neither of you has confidence in their ability to get the home sold? Your Realtor's job is to get OTHER people to buy your home, not to buy it themselves.

2) “I charge as low as 0% commission”

This always makes me cringe! When was the last time you approached your boss and offered to work for free?

A professional has to charge a fee for his services — that's how he earns his living. If you aren't paying a fee, he either isn't earning a living, or you're not getting the service you think you are.

Look at it this way: would you trust a surgeon, mechanic, or lawyer who felt the need to advertise free services just to get clients?

3) “I'll sell your home faster and for more money”

Ah, the time-honoured free lunch. The only problem is, the laws of the market don't allow you to have your lunch and eat it too!

A certain amount of exposure is necessary to attract a good offer. So, if you want to sell high, you need to be patient until a willing buyer comes along. But, if you want to sell quickly, you need to price low to attract those buyers sooner. You simply can't do both!

The right approach is to know your priority — top price or a quick sale — and make it known to your Realtor when you list your home. That will allow your Realtor to advise you on the right listing price and negotiation strategy.

4) “Our team of experts provide better service”

Can four people cook a better hamburger than one person?

Some people believe a team will give them more attention because there will always be somebody 'available'. But if you think about it, four people need to sell four times as many homes to each make the same money, which means each person can only give you one-quarter as much attention, and you're back to square one (except you have four names and four phone numbers to remember).

Other people believe a team is more efficient, because each team member can specialize in one area. This is true, but then again, none of them can get to know you as well as a single Realtor could. Instead of explaining your priorities once, you'll need to explain them several times, which suddenly doesn't seem so efficient.

In the end, there's nothing about a team arrangement that suggests better service, and there's also no proof that teams are more efficient than single Realtors.

5) “We're a couple, so you get two Realtors for the price of one.”

Okay, so which one of you works for free? I'll hire that one!

6) “I sell more homes, so I must be a better Realtor.”

I suppose this is true if you have twenty homes that all need to be sold at once.

Otherwise, you should worry about quality, not quantity. Look for a Realtor that will provide you with a smooth experience and give you individual attention. Remember, selling more homes in a year means less time available to spend on each one.

7) “I have the age advantage, so I must be a better Realtor.”

Age is not a skill! A Realtor is either good at their job or not. Being young does not prevent a Realtor from working hard, keeping their knowledge up-to-date, or providing individual service. Any Realtor can do a great job for you if they are dedicated to their profession.

8) “My secret marketing plan guarantees you more exposure!”

The thing about advertising is this: by definition, it is public knowledge. If the secret marketing plan worked so well, every other Realtor would be using it the next day!

In truth, there are no magic bullets. All Realtors have the ability to list your home on MLS, to advertise in newspapers and magazines, to take photos and identify selling points, to operate a website, to set up an open house, and so forth.

Sometimes the "secret" plan is simply to have a bigger marketing budget. This is a choice one can make, but like any trade-off, it draws time or money away from other areas.

The reality is, marketing can only go so far. Listing at the right price and handling negotiations properly are also essential to getting your home sold.

9) “I'm a top producer and an award-winner.”

Awards are often given out for sales numbers, but rarely given out for client satisfaction. So really, this Realtor is saying “I sell more homes, and also I sell more homes” — which we covered under #6.

Take a look at the best-seller lists for books. Are the top ten books your ten favourites? If not, perhaps sales numbers are not the be-all and end-all. Individual fit is what matters.

10) “I sold my last client's home for 105% of the asking price!”

One of my favourites! All this proves is that the asking price could have been 5% higher to begin with.

Remember, the only offer that matters is the FINAL offer. If you price a home below market value, it will likely attract a series of competing offers at higher and higher prices, eventually reaching market value. As a seller, it can be thrilling to see these offers come in — but it doesn't accomplish anything. By starting with the right asking price, you can skip the song-and-dance, and attract that final offer sooner.


There is no 'best' Realtor — only the best fit for you. Your home is likely the biggest asset you'll ever own, so you need a Realtor that makes you feel comfortable, who can communicate with you, and who can tailor their service to your priorities.

Don't be fooled by gimmicks and catch-phrases. Talk to your friends and relatives about their experiences. Ask who they used, what they liked, and what they disliked. Talk to potential Realtors, listen to everything they say (not just the sales pitch!). Do they make you feel comfortable or pressured? Ask questions and expect forthcoming answers.

In the end, if you can find someone you feel comfortable with, and who doesn't try to distract you with gimmicks, you've probably found a winner.

Do you have a question about an advertising gimmick, or about real estate in general? Just ask me, I'll be happy to help.


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