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Going rogue: Why some agents refuse to give price guides

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Selling your home? Put yourselves in the shoes of the buyers, and insist that your real estate agent provides all the information they want to help them choose a home. Henny Stier from OH Property reveals the top frustrations for home buyers. 

There are many things which annoy house hunters. For example, when there is no floorplan or room dimensions provided. Or when the selling agents provide a list of “comparable sales” which are not at all comparable.

However, top of the list of pet hates would be agents who refuse to give a price guide.

As the market is shifting, there is an increasing number of selling agents who are refusing to give price guides. This is such a terrible strategy as there is nothing that irritates a buyer more!

Here are some of the reasons why selling agents should always quote a Price Guide:

  • No one likes to waste time. Many buyers simply won’t inspect the property if they assume they can’t afford it. Just imagine trying to buy a car and the dealer refuses to give a price. How ridiculous would that be?
  • Rightly or wrongly, a lot of buyers assume the Vendors are unrealistic and want too much if the agent won’t give a price guide.
  • Buyers are savvy these days and they know there is a lot of resources online to help value a property. Hence buyers will think the selling agent is either incompetent or being cagey when they refuse to give a price guide.
  • Buyers do not trust selling agents who won’t give a price guide. It creates an unnecessary adversarial relationship right from the start.
  • In a buyer’s market with a lot of competing supply, buyers will quickly lose interest and move on to the next property where they are offered a price guide.

The reality is that all selling agents must give an “estimated selling price” in the Agency Agreement they sign with Vendors. This is a requirement of the NSW OFT. So for an agent to claim that they need “market feedback” or “the owners want to listen to the market” is frankly total nonsense.

Whenever we bump into an agent who refuses to give a price guide, we automatically think that the agent is too scared to tell the truth or really doesn’t know. Neither are positive reflections upon the agent.

There are also instances where the selling agent has ‘bought’ the listing by quoting a very high price to the Vendors, and they are using supposed “market feedback” to try and condition the Vendors down in expectations.

Another common excuse we hear from agents is that they don’t like to put a ‘ceiling’ on the property price. That may be true in a bullish Auction-only campaign. But in the current market, a seller runs the risk of alienating buyers with this approach and many will genuinely assume they cannot afford the property if they are not given a price guide from the start. A buyer who genuinely loves a property would often be willing to pay above the price guide – especially in a competition scenario. So putting a price guide is actually just that… a guide. The final price ultimately comes down to how much the buyer likes and wants it, and how skilful the selling agent is at drumming up genuine competition and negotiating on the seller’s behalf.

In an ideal world, the NSW OFT should make it mandatory for all selling agents to publicly disclose the “estimated selling price” that they have in the agreement with the Vendors. This “estimated selling price” should then be the price guide for the public. How simple would this be? This would (a) address the problem of agents who are buying listings, (b) save buyers from having to waste their time asking for price guides, and (c) make it easy for NSW OFT to monitor and audit.

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