Monday, March 3, 2008

Agent Inquiries Only

Hard to believe it in this market, but us buyers still get treated shabbily when inquiring on a home. Below is my most recent run-in with an agent who obviously hasn't gotten the message that some RE buyers are sophisticated enough to make decisions for themselves.

There is home in my favorite neighborhood that is now listed for rent (the same neighborhood where we made an offer two weeks ago). I kinda recognized the place as having been sold in the last 4 years (my agent sent me all the recent sales so I could do my homework on this neighborhood).

Well I called the number to find out how much it would rent for. The guy was nice enough. But the rent was way out of line, even for EDH. So I ventured to ask, if they would be willing to sell. He thought they might be, but refused to discuss it with me any further, insisting my agent needed to call him. Apparently it makes us 'serious buyers' if our agent calls. Surprisingly, he even held his ground after I mentioned we recently put in an offer right around the corner.

Of course, I was a bit insulted. But once again, I won't let a snobby RE agent get in the way of my dream home. So after doing some more homework on the place, it looks like they are speculators with almost 100% LTV.


Gwynster said...

I take it this house is out of the running to? So do what I do, sit back and enjoy your lovely family, have some tea and wait for the bank to take it >; )

Buying Time said...

That's kinda what I was doing today, going over the withdrawn listings and sales in 2004-2007 to get a feel for which houses in my favorite neighborhood we might be able to purchase in a year or two from the bank.

The turnover is relatively low, when compared to the newer developments. So its a rather big risk, to not jump on the one that is listed, in hopes that something in better shape will come along AT the same price.

Ed said...

Gwyn beat me to it - it'll be available on more favorable terms, soon enough, at the rate they are going! :)

Buying Time said...

WSJ blog has a related story today about how agents don't really know how to deal with the "self service" approach that many younger buyers prefer.

Mystere said...

What are you guys talking about? The house isn't out of the running at all.

The owner's agent says he'll only deal with your agent? Well, ok, fine...have your agent make the call. You have absolutely nothing to lose. And if you have a little ego bruise from the owner's agent not wanting to talk to you about it (hey, I'd be a bit miffed too), just let it roll right off your back. Keep your eye on the ball and the prize. Navigating these waters isn't always easy or smooth, but at the end of the day what matters is whether you can achieve your objective. If your agent makes the call and it goes nowhere, then off your list it goes. Until then, however, it definitely is in play, from my read of things.

As an aside, anyone else notice that in the last two weeks 39 homes have gone pending in EDH, according to Metrolist? It caught my eye, as it's a marked uptick and is just over 10% of the current inventory.

alba said...

The more the RE industry fights it, thinking they're the only ones that can negotiate a housing transaction, the quicker their role will diminish. Just go around any agent that gets in the way.

Gwynster said...

Actually if it was me, it would be out of play because I can just wait for the next house and I'll be damned if I let that snotty agent make a commission off me. We're still in knife catching territory so blessing to the next fool. I have all the time in the world >; )

BT is much nicer then me about these things.

Mystere said...

Gwynster, that's...interesting. You find a house in which you have significant interest (otherwise, you wouldn't have bothered in the first place), and you bail because the agent asks for your own agent to call? If that's the case, then you likely weren't all that interested to begin with. Otherwise, it seems pretty myopic to me, regardless of market conditions, that you walk over something that trivial. The agent isn't going to be living in your home, or even be a part of your life after the purchase. Personally, I couldn't care less what the agent says about such things. Now, if as a substantive matter, the numbers won't get to a a place meets my criteria, -then- I walk.

Gwynster said...

If it was the only the house EVER, then I'd give the agent the sharp side of my tongue and have my agent make the offer under my husband's name - I like getting to have my cake and eat it too.

My point is that that house is hardly the 'only house EVER' so why bother potenially rewarding an archaic agent? I'd rather quietly move on and leave a note as to why I moved on in the seller's mailbox >; )

And yes, waiting for 5 yrs for prices to come down has made me a touch cranky **winks**

Cmyst said...

You know, I'm not cranky at all anymore about waiting. Another of the houses that was on my list a few months ago came back onto MLS asking about 50K less than it was. My list had dropped to 3 houses, and is now back up to 7. Two years ago, I didn't think I'd ever see a decent house under 300K again, much less closing in on 200K.
If I needed to sell in this market, I'd be pretty ticked off if my agent insulted a potential buyer. said...

Again, I am coming into this string a bit too late, however I thought I would throw my thoughts in...Disclaimer - I am a Realtor.

True, you could have been dealing with a snotty jerk agent, and trust me they are out there, and they are not pleasant to deal with (for other co-operating agents too).

However, just to play devil's advocate, if I get a call on one of my listings and the potential buyer on the other end mentions they are already working with an agent, I too ask that the agent contact me directly. I will still answer the potential buyer's questions, and be polite, but as an agent you enter into murky territory when you start dealing with another agent's client directly.

Obviously there is no excuse for being rude though.

Gordon Gekko said...

There seems to be a really simple answer to your question, just tell him you're a real estate agent. You do not need a license to handle your personal transaction. In this market, what realtor in the world is going to turn a qualified buyer away. Make your life easier, stop playing the REIC's games.

Gwynster said...


I had thought of outright lying but still, great idea (in a moral hazard sort of way). I'm willing to bet BT knows more about the process and the market then most starting realtors.

Gordon, can I have my coffee now?

Erin, I seriously don't know how agents survive because I've seen the crap you have to deal with from sellers and other agents and I'd be going postal in short order.

Mystere said...

Hehe, at least you're true to your handle, Gordon.

Umm, why lie (and blow your credibility with your own agent, as well as with the seller -- yes, they'll find out the truth) when you can just handle it in a straightforward manner?

Erin, that's a fair point. I suppose the seller's agent would do well also to communicate -why- such a call from the buyer's broker is desired. Doing so likely would alleviate any ruffled feathers. At any rate, the buyer's broker always could make the call and explain that it's perfectly fine for his/her client to deal directly with the seller and/or the seller's broker.

I get the sense that the 'problem' with such a request from the seller's broker is more about ego than anything else. It's really a non-issue in the overall scheme of things.

Gwynster said...


Blowing credibility with my agent? Oh puhleazzzze.

Telling me I have to have my agent call them tells me there is some backdoor deal he/she wants to make. If not, why the lack of transparency?

Mystere said...

Yea, seriously. You'll look like an absolute dimwit lieing to sellers and telling them you're an agent. At any rate, go for it...we'll see how that works out for you.

And get over the back door conspiracy thing, lol. As erin explained above, it's likely a professional courtesy thing... similar in nature to when an opposing attorney will not deal with you, and will ask to be contacted by your lawyer, if they know that you're represented. There's no lack of 'transparency' involved. It's called ethics.

RMB said...

As yes ethics. That bastion of "REALTOR (tm)" principals. Lack thereof is more like it. If a selling agent asks for a agent to call them, I would go around them and contact the HO directly. 2 can play at that game.

How's it going gwyn? Was just up in Davis the other day, see the burg hasn't changed much in the 15 years since I was there in college. Trees have gotten bigger and there are a few more buildings, but not much else...

Gwynster said...

hey RMB,

Davis is Davis, bleh. The place is like living in The Truman Show for 40 yrs but without a maintenance crew or a real sense of purpose.

The interesting news is the 3 to 4 million dollar short fall in the school district budget and declining school enrollments. I dread small town politics and the in-fighting is nasty, nasty, nasty. Couldn't happen to nicer people.

Our Zero growth policy is a big topic as the cannery project is being discussed, .....again.

We have homes relistings from last year and some nice 100k reductions. But shhhhhh!, don't tell anyone because this is Davis, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, all the children are above average, where our schools are always better then yours, and housing prices never go down.

Mystere said...

I figured someone would jump on the ethics comment like a hobo on a ham sandwich. Why sure, that agent's actions demonstrate a horrible ethical lapse and undoubtably is some orchestrated ploy to screw over the potential buyer.

Some of the mindsets truly are amazing.

Buying Time said...

Okay y'all, lets just agree to disagree.

Cymst - Glad to hear your list is growing...I know it was causing you some anxiety last fall. I am having a similiar this neighborhood I like has very low turnover. said...

I can hang. I am enjoying some of the "natural selection" happening right now...lots of agents are leaving the business. The deadline to pay annual dues for the Association of Realtors just passed, and I will be curious to see how many renewed vs. did not renew.

I am really sorry that so many of you have such animosity toward agents. Obviously fueled by bad past experiences...hopefully as some of the bad apples leave the business, ya'll can interact with better, more professional agents.

alba said...

erin, you might think more of it as a value statement, versus ethics. We all know there's slime in all walks of life, and good people. The protocol seems to protect the agent, and not their client, where the value of the middleman is in serious question/decline/change.