Pardon me while I rant about a phone call I received yesterday out of the blue from a very pushy and strange real estate agent I did not know.
There are lots of really great realtors out there that I respect and would like to work with. I have many friends with real estate licenses. My sister-in-law sells real estate, for crying out loud.
The agent who called me off of one of our ‘for rent’ ads did not fit in that category. She was a bully.
It was not until conversation #2, which quickly went south, that I realized she had masterfully set a trap for me.
But I like to pride myself on at least working to acquire fox-like attributes. I usually don’t get trapped. I always have an extra door out of my den.
Here’s how I did it.
The first phone call was innocent enough.
“Do you work with real estate agents?”
“I have a client who would like to see your three bedroom house for rent. When can I bring him by?”
“When does he need something? It’s available now.”
“That’s not a problem.”
“No pets. We need a year’s lease,” I quickly told her.
“That’s doable. No problem.”
“Okay, I’ll have to check with Mr. Stevens and see when he can show it.” (Good cop, bad cop psychology.)
“If he’s interested, I can rent the house for him,” she quickly added.
“We have to be there,” I told her. “We meet everyone in person who looks at our units. That’s our policy.”
This was the first warning. I should have heeded it. She wanted to completely take over.
“Alright, I understand. That’s fine,” she said.” Now, we’re out looking now and we can be there in a few minutes.”
“I’ll still have to check with him first.”
(Good cop, bad cop again.)
“Is there a problem?”
Second warning. Of course, there wasn’t a problem until she called.
“No, that’s our policy.”
Then she dropped the bomb.
“You know, I’ll need to collect a finder’s fee for this. It’s usually a half a month.”
At $1500 a month, we would be paying her, what? $750- to rent a unit that we could have rented ourselves for free. Huh?
She was on a roll.
“You don’t expect me to drive a client around all day and not be reimbursed for that, do you?”
I was still trying to be polite and lady-like. Why, I wouldn’t know.
“I’ll tell Mr. Stevens that you called. If he’s interested, he’ll call you back.”
That was the end of it, or so I thought.
About two hours later, she called back.
“I have my client here ready to see the house.”
“Wait a minute, we didn’t agree to show it right now. We didn’t agree on anything.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let me spell it out. Mr. Stevens does not want to pay you a finder’s fee.”
What? Have I missed something here? Is she going to let $750 fly through her fingers that easily?
“I’ll forfeit my fee. I have to show this house to my client. He wants to see it.”
“I’m sorry, but this isn’t a good time for us. We just painted the porch.”
That was true. I was not making that up. We had decided to paint the porch after we figured it was hurting the showings.
“Look, let me put it this way…” Her claws were all the way out now.
“My client is a military man and he wants to see your house. Are you denying him the chance to see it?”
Uh, oh. Now she was making me out as anti-military.
“No, of course not. He can call us anytime. We don’t want you showing it because we are not prepared to pay you.”
Obviously, I didn’t believe she was going to rent our house for free. What planet did she think I got off of?
Suddenly she came in for the kill.
“Look, I don’t know why Mr. Stevens is not willing to pay me some sort of tiny, insignificant fee like $150, or $200 to rent his house for him. He does want to rent it doesn’t he?
Hmmm. Her fee has suddenly gone down from $750 to $150, or was that $200?
“We don’t need you, ”I told her. We’re at the top of Google today for ‘three bedroom house Nashville’.”
“What is your problem? $200 is not that much money?” She was getting angry.
I couldn’t believe she said that. I was shocked.
“It’s a lot of money to us. We’re not paying you. Besides, we don’t have the only three bedroom house for rent in the neighborhood. There must be at least ten others you can show him. And he can call us anytime he wants to.”
Just at that moment, my cell phone rang, with that loud obnoxious ring tone my nephew had put on my phone. (We had been talking on the land phone.)
Poof, she hung up. Just like that. She was gone- forever, I hoped.
My Dad, who had been listening in, only said he thought I should have gotten rid of her a little sooner.
Here’s my point.
Don’t let anyone pull you into a trap like that.
Don’t ever allow someone to call you up and demand a fee of any kind for any reason. That’s not a good way to do business.
Know exactly what services they will perform for exactly how much money. Get it in writing, if you have to. Maybe inscribe in concrete if necessary.
She kept changing the perimeters. $750 became $0 to $200.
Never allow anyone to bully you either. It’s one thing to work hard, even obnoxiously to sell something. It’s something else for them to hold you hostage to their demands, especially when you did not instigate the deal in the first place
Some real estate agents are very hungry in this market, and they may get even hungrier before the real estate cycle turns.
Only deal with the good ones who will work fairly and squarely with you.
More on How to Avoid Bad Real Estate Agents