Last week a reader requested a blog about “suggestions on how not to be bullied by the big guns of realty.” Here’s the best advice I can offer from my limited experience.
When working with realtors, remember, they are salespeople. They are trying to make a sale off of you and get a commission. If you haven’t signed a contract with a realtor or promised exclusivity, you owe them nothing.
The many lines of a bullying realtor:
- This place is not going to stay on the market
- Apply first. Why bother with the details if you might not even get the place?
- Everywhere you go there will be an application fee.
- You aren’t going to find anything better than this with your parameters.
- For your price range this is the best you’re going to do. And it’s great so snatch it up!
- I promise this apartment will be gone tomorrow.
- I’m going to be unavailable until late next week so you should apply now or you’ll have to wait until then and it could be gone.
- If you’re at all interested, just apply, you don’t have to rent it.
Here’s some creative ways to slow things down when a real estate agent gets pushy. Quick note: if you have a roommate you should probably discuss your defense plan before you go into a showing.
- Act dumb
You can’t pay an application fee if you forgot your wallet can you? Nope. Being a young renter, I found a lot of realtors already assumed I didn’t know what I was doing. Take advantage of that. Playing dumb is actually a great way to get all of your questions answered without seeming combative and difficult.
Acting dumb is easy enough to do and can give you a lot of wiggle room, however your agent might not take you seriously if you over do it.
- Blame other issues
You should always bring a tape measure when you’re looking for apartments, and it can be a great way to slow things down with a pushy agent.
Simply gasp and say “Wait! Oh no! I bet my (insert prized possession here) won’t fit in here. I need to measure.” Measure up a space that grandma’s cedar chest has to fit in and say that it’s 15 inches bigger than that space. Explain that you’ll need some time to think about if you can live without your made-up item and will measure it again just to be sure. No application today.
Be careful of the imaginary item you pick. Do not use a bed as an excuse, most real estate agents know the dimensions of a bed and will try to convince you a full bed can fit anywhere.
- Bring up the commission
If you’re more the aggressive type and an agent has been really pushing you, a quick way to get them to step back is to bring up their commission. In a neutral tone say, “I know you’re working on commission, and clearly you want this sale, but, like I said, I’m not ready to make a decision right now.” Don’t be rude, but be firm. Once it’s out there you might even find that you have a more honest relationship with your real estate agent.
- Get your parents involved
You are not a failure if you ask for help. My parents have owned and rented more property than I have, clearly they know more than I do. Parents can be your greatest weapons.
A story for another day is when I got my parents involved during my apartment finding hunt. Best thing I ever did. They got to be the heavy hitters and I got to play dumb with the realtor and apologize for them being “so embarrassing.”
Hope these ideas help! Let me know if you’ve ever had to deal with a pushy real estate agent or realtor.
Stop by the blog next week, I’ll finally tell you about my experience with Apartment People.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
I definitely agree that using your parents as backup is a great idea. Not only do they have more experience in the field, they are also a great excuse when you don’t want to commit to something. I was looking for an apartment in New York, and even though my parents were in Chicago, I always mentioned that I wanted to check with them before making any decisions. They didn’t see my apartment until after I signed the lease, but they were a great excuse while dealing with brokers!
Another good idea is to ask picky but useful questions to show the realtor you know what you’re talking about. When I was looking at apartments in Chicago, I would ask where all the outlets were, if we had to pay for our own heat, and whether the windows were insulated. I think people take you a lot more seriously this way, and it gives you a way to bargain with a pushy realtor.
As much as it pains me to say this – parents are crucial in this process. My dad was able to ask all the important questions that I would absolutely never think of while I played (or actually was) dumb. also. FLAUNT YOUR ASSETS. most agents I encountered were young men. I think it worked to me and my roommates advantage 🙂
I am Claire’s superfan
I rushed into an apartment decision after deciding to live with a few of my friends. I wish we would have had more of a discussion about our preferences before making a decision. Having a team meeting before looking for a place is a good idea.
I think using your parents in person is like bringing in your closer. Only do it when the game is on the line. Talking to them the whole way through just makes good sense.
Josie: that’s a great point. Saying you need to check in with your parents buys you some time and slows down the process, something that can be very helpful especially when you’re in a different state.
Thanks for your comment!
Kate: you’re right, it’s always good to have your realtor take you seriously, if they do hopefully they won’t pressure you as much. If they don’t, try some of the ideas I blogged about. Use your inexperience to your advantage.
Aly: that’s how you learn what the tough questions are! You heard your Dad ask them and now you’ll be prepared to ask them the next time.
Ben, thanks for being my superfan. Glad you enjoyed the blog, stop by again!
Nathan: that’s a great point, and possibly something I will blog about in the future. It’s important to lay out your expectations with roommates before signing a lease.
Phil: great analogy, parents can definitely be great “closers”.
Moira: glad it all worked out. I fell for the line, too. Now we know, and we’ll be better prepared for next time!