I want to share the ultimate dishonesty/deceptive REALTOR story that happened to me about 35 years ago when I decided to sell my Burbank, CA house. At the time—one real estate firm was dominating the marketplace in Los Angeles. Merill Lynch. From my window, I could see the 3 distinctive red and white signs on 3 different properties representing others selling their homes. I noticed that 2 of them had the same realtors listed (it was a team of 2 women) and I watched as those properties sold very quickly. Most of you know how the real estate game is played. Any realtor can sell any property listed and split the commission profit with the “listing agent.” The ultimate goal is to be the “listing agent” on as many properties as possible. If the “listing agent” sells the property themselves, they get to keep the entire profit themselves (which they share with their broker) and if another realtor sells the property, they automatically get to split with them just for being the “listing agent.” Sometimes there are questionable efforts made by realtors to try and get a listing—but many play by the rules. I decided to give any and all realtors the chance to sell the property and keep the entire profit for themselves. If that didn't work after one month, I would call the women who had been so successful in moving properties right from my own window view.
The open Internet (other than CompuServe and AOL) had not been invented yet, and so everybody in Los Angeles used a printed newspaper called the RECYCLER to do all the things that everybody would be eventually doing on Craigslist. I ran an ad stating that I want to give any realtor the chance to sell my property for a 30-day period. That I would not list with anybody during this time and they have the same opportunity as others to sell the house. I received dozens of phone calls from realtors. “I have the buyer for your property.” “Great!” I said. “Bring them by, let's make a deal and I have a lawyer all ready to close the transaction.” They never showed up. I remember one annoyingly aggressive fellow who called and demanded that I list with him. “I can sell your house right away!” I told him to do it then and then informed him that after 30 days, I would be listing with these two ladies at Merill Lynch. He demanded to know why. “Because I watched them sell 2 properties right from my window.” This wasn't good enough apparently. “How do you know they are capable of selling YOUR home?” Such BS became very routine in these phone calls.
Then I got a call from a local Burbank realtor. He was direct and to the point. “I have 2 clients who both want to buy your home. A couple and a single woman. I would like to bring the couple over first tonight to try and work out a deal.” “That would be fantastic” I said.
Later that night, a man somewhere between 65-75 arrived with a couple. The couple was young—probably about 23. They wanted to buy their first home. We all sat down for an hour holding discussions. Something nagged at me. The way the couple was casually dressed (America had not become a nation of total slobs yet), the way they spoke, their excessive enthusiasm for everything the realtor said, just made me wonder. They were going to go home and think about the terms and get back immediately.
Not a problem. The realtor had another woman lined up for the next night. The next night, a woman in her 40's, showed up with the realtor and we again sat down for an hour and discussed terms, prices, etc. She also was going to think about it and get right back.
The next day, the realtor called me.
“I need to come by and have you sign the listing agreement” he said. “What are you talking about?” I said.
“We need to formalize the listing arrangement.”
I reminded him that I was very clear about the manner in which I was trying to sell the house for 30 days.
“That's all right. We'll just sign it now and if 30 days goes by, then it will be listed with me.”
I reminded him that I clearly already stated that if there was no sale at the end of 30 days I am listing with the 2 ladies from Merill Lynch.
Not only did I never hear from him again, I guess the young couple and the lady must have all changed their minds.
A month later while shopping, I ran into the lady in Burbank.
“I thought you really wanted to buy the house” I said.
“Oh no,” she explained. “I'm just a friend of the realtor
and I was doing a favor for him.”
Apparently this guy, a licensed realtor, decided that if he put on a show by having some overly-eager people show up to pretend to want to buy the house, I would immediately list with him.
After 30 days, none of these other realtors showed up with their “buyers.” And I listed the house with the women at Merill Lynch.
The two ladies sold the house very quickly and I still can't believe that somebody would go out of their way to put on this charade. And think somebody would fall for it.