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Using other listings for leverage

real estate leverage

One of our listings was used as leverage by another agent. I know we all have our techniques for selling real estate, but do you push your own listings to buyer customers by showing them other listings in worse condition?

The agent made an appointment to show a house we have listed that is in poor condition and does not show well at all. The sellers have refused to clean up or make it presentable and I have not even been able to take descent photos of the place. The agent showed his listing to his customers first and then went to ours. While showing the house, he kept referring to the other property, “If you add this room it could look like this but in better condition, if you open up this wall, it could have this feel but for less money”.

I know selling real estate is about comparing properties, but to do it openly in front of the seller and to make it obvious that he was not showing this property to actually sell it, but to sell his own was a bit out of line. I think a couple of lessons can be learned from this: Please wait until you leave the property to have those discussions, unless you want to burn bridges with fellow colleagues; and make sure you make your home presentable if you are selling.

Benn made a comment that I really appreciate on a post that describes this same property ( Why isn’t your Miami home selling?).

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“This home says to me – Chaos. I hope your sellers listen, I wouldn’t even take a listing that looked like this. There’s no showroom shine about it.”

Rick and I take disastrous looking listings all the time because I help our customers stage and give them very particular instructions on how to make those properties look better. When the sellers don’t cooperate, they are placed in a situation like this, where their property is used as leverage to sell others.

Written By

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors,, and and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.



  1. Chad Hallberg

    February 21, 2008 at 10:48 am

    How much is it worth to you to have these “chaos” houses that sellers won’t fix? Simply by saying, “Oh, the sellers wouldn’t fix this; but, this house isn’t representative of my whole inventory” won’t do. Having a major sore thumb stand out like this speaks volumes to me as a client. What’s your solution to these “chaos” houses that make your whole inventory look bad?

  2. KC Investments

    February 21, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I think this goes on all the time. But let me ask you a question, aren’t you the market where the seller’s agent is always present?

    Out here it goes on but you are generally speaking in privacy. If someone is hiring me for my thoughts, I think they should hear them. Be they positive or negative.

  3. Mariana

    February 21, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I do this all the time: compare listings … but NEVER in the presence of listing agent or the Seller. That is completely unprofessional.

  4. Sarasota

    February 21, 2008 at 11:32 am

    You’d think this was common sense, it’s unfortunate that some Realtors don’t get it.

  5. Mark Harrison

    February 21, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I’m not so sure this can’t play to your favour.

    Presumably you want the sellers to sort out the problems with their property, so that you have a better chance of selling it for a decent price?

    Isn’t it worth going back to them now and saying “Look, I’m really sorry that guy’s been a *&£@ – he shouldn’t have said those things… but that’s what buyers are looking for – is there any chance you could sort out X and Y… then it would be YOUR house that was being talked up!”

    I’m an investor rather than a real estate agent (I was briefly an “estate agent” as we call them here in the UK many years ago but turned to the dark side) – I _love_ those types of properties, because I’m prepared to sort out the work to get my portfolio in top shape … that’s how I make my profit 🙂

  6. Ines

    February 21, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Chad – let me first make clear that the house pictured is NOT the listing in question, it was a negatively staged property for a marketing piece. As for how to solve the chaos, we do many things: hire a stager, make recommendations and go out of our way to get the property in “selling condition”.

    If the sellers don’t cooperate, depending on pricing and type of property, we may choose to cancell the listing. The Realtor is not always the one that gets fired.

    KC Investments- you are right about the seller’s agent being present, but I think it has to do more with protecting the property. Sometimes the seller is there as well, and as much as I like and encourage feedback, there are some things that you keep private unless of course you are ready to get an ear-full from the selling agent.

    Mariana- and you better believe I will not be as accomodating to that agent anymore.

    Sarasota- I think it goes back to “respect” but a lot of people don’t agree

    Mark- we must think alike because that’s exactly what we did…btw I hear horror stories about estate agents in the UK. Looks to me like a good opportunity!

  7. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    February 21, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Mark is right on- if your sellers see what they’re up against, they *may* be more willing to scrub up.

    Ines, I do think it’s poor form to do it publicly though- those conversations are what we call “coffee talk” where you go to Starbucks after you’ve shown houses and talk about the good/bad of each. You would think that people who invest THEIR time in real estate would not openly insult the time of others.

    But, it’s business, so c’est la vie, right? Some people don’t even have buyers or listings, Ines- so you’re ahead of the game 😉

  8. Ines

    February 21, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Lani – since AG is technically an agent blog – the intent here is to see what we do right or wrong that may burn bridges.

    This agent had absolutely no intention of selling my listing, he was using it for his gain….and granted, he has plenty of his own non-staged homes to make the comparison.

    I thank him for blatantly showing me that he had no intentions of selling my listing, because I can now know what type of a business person he is and it will give me an advantage if I ever have to work with him as a cooperating agent.

  9. Thomas Johnson

    February 21, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    1. Why was the seller in the house? All my sellers are schooled to leave the house during showings. If your listing is a dump, it should be priced accordingly and it will be gone. The truth shouldn’t hurt. My question is: Why did you take an ugly listing that has price competition? The other agent would have had an offer on your desk in a nanosecond if his listing was not the better value of the two.

    2. What does having a dump for a listing say about you to other coop agents? Let’s see what Ines has nearby, we can always use that to get this dog sold. The flip side: Ines’s listings are always impeccable and worth the higher price because they glow!

    3. This is not the market where we can afford to coddle sellers who are uncooperative. Our time is all we have, and time spent on an unsellable deal is money down the drain. Think of something you really like to do, such as reading, movies, time with your family. Now choose between the aforementioned activites and keeping this listing. THEY BOTH PAY THE SAME!

  10. Ines

    February 21, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Thomas – good discussion and here are the answers.

    The listing is not a dump, it’s full of stuff. It is definitely priced accordingly and anyone that knows us and the way we do business, knows we don’t don’t play the overpriced game.

    I guess it’s good to have a challenging listing once in a while, and that’s what’s happening here. Our sellers are instructed to leave and they all do, but that day it was pouring outside and the agent that was showing was late – so he arrived at the same time as the seller and the seller insisted that he see the house.

    The other listing was a short sale – and in my opinion overpriced when you compare apples to apples and price per square foot. The other agent used his customers’ inability to see beyond a mess to try to sell an inferior property.

    I think I explained before that when we take a listing, we go in depth with our clients about what needs to be done and how quickly. My architecture background is a big plus when dealing with staging and having the house in the best showing condition.

    Thanks for your humor at the end. That’s exactly where this may end up. These sellers agreed to cooperate and now are not doing their part. I refuse to spin my wheels and will not continue marketing the property if they don’t do their part, it’s plain and simple.

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