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Sale Does NOT Belong to Real Estate Agents

Posted by Irina Jordan

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Oct 13, 2015 8:00:00 AM

In today's Agent Insights post, James Hoff - a Realtor® in Rancho Santa Margarita, California - sets real estate agents straight about taking clients' matters personally.

Here's James:

James Hoff

There are many of us out there that take our jobs personally. Although we have to separate our emotions from the job, I take my business personally because it makes me more passionate about what I do and who I do it for.

Regardless of how much of the "personal" we set aside, there is one thing that too many agents forget - the Realtor® is not a party to the contract. This purchase or sale that you are part of, doesn't belong to you. The decisions to be made in your transactions are not yours to make. Unless otherwise agreed to, you do not have permission to act on behalf of your buyer or seller without their knowledge or consent.

For example: If you receive an offer for one of your listings, regardless of how amazingly terrible you think it is - you MUST present it to your seller. Yes, there are certainly sellers who authorize us to negotiate price or terms to a certain point (I hope you got that in writing) and you can communicate that when appropriate to other agents or buyers when an offer comes in lower than that "reserve". However, MOST agents do not have upfront authorization to negotiate on behalf of their clients without their permission. That goes for anything: sale price, request for repairs, possession days after close of escrow, etc.

Ahhh, you would never do such a thing? Have you ever put “Agent Private Remarks” on the MLS that states specifically that “All offers to include a pre-approval letter from a lender” and sure enough you receive an offer without one? Then you call the agent and say “hey, thanks for the offer but I didn’t see the pre-approval letter. As soon as I get that I will present this to my seller.” Wrong! Unless your seller told you not to present offers that had failed to include a pre-approval letter, your response to the agent should be something like this:

  • “Thank you for the offer. I’ll get this in front of my seller as soon as possible and let you know how they would like to move forward.”


  • “Thank you for the offer. I noticed there was no pre-approval letter with this offer. I will present this to my seller as soon as possible and it would be helpful if you could provide that paperwork to strengthen and support your buyer’s offer at your earliest convenience.”

This business has a lot of “big” things that we deal with but everything - down to the few dollars spent on repair requests - are not your decisions to make. It’s your job to negotiate it, yes. The Realtor® is hired to present all options to their clients, perhaps run the pro and con list but it is not your job to decide for your client what will or will not be best for them.

Our fiduciary responsibility to our clients is very important and while I fully support taking the job personally, remember, the deals you negotiate are not your personal deals. We are privileged to be trusted with buyers and sellers who put lifetimes of savings in our hands. Do not abuse your position. A good agent is not the one that makes hard decisions for their clients. A good agent is the one who has hard conversations with their clients to determine what the best decision will be for them.

This job can and should be a fun one but don’t be fooled - this is a serious business. Failure to do your job properly could cost someone everything they have ever worked for, could land you in court with a big lawsuit, could cost you your license or even put you in jail. Whether you take it personally or not - do take it seriously. Have fun but work for your clients the way you are supposed to. These purchases and sales are not yours.

Learn more about James on his website: www.bullockrussell.com.

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Topics: Agent Insights

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