Three dodgy real estate agent tricks and how to avoid them


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Is your head spinning from the sudden swing in the real estate market? From one of the hottest markets on record to auction clearance rates sitting around 50%, the industry is still reeling from the whirlwind change.

For many buyers, it's a great time to secure a property. For agents, it's a tough time to sell, which is a combination that creates a lot of confusion.

Agents have to work twice as hard to make a sale, so they tend to roll up their sleeves and get out their box of tricks. It's their job to create hype and tension in a buyers' market, which can easily scare people off or pressure them into making rushed decisions.

sneaky real estate agent tactics and how to avoid them

1. No guide prices on properties

In a buyers' market, agents look to test the waters and push the limits of a property's value by forgoing a guide price to keep everyone guessing.

When you add the misleading headlines and the hundreds of differing opinions that come a buyer's way, it creates a lot of confusion and leaves buyers vulnerable and in the hands of the vendor agent.

2. An unusual sense of urgency

Twelve months ago, if an agent told you that you'd lose a property if you didn't make an offer and immediately sign on the dotted line, they probably had a point.

These days, however, the market is moving a lot slower, so vendor agents advising you to act quick and snap up your dream home are likely trying to manufacture a sense of urgency and bulldoze you into a rash decision.

They may even play on the idea of you missing the opportunity to get yourself a great bargain.

3. Private inspections that aren't so private

This is a favourite sneaky trick with vendor agents. They will set up a private inspection for a buyer and schedule other showings around the same time.

When the buyer shows up to see other people viewing the property, it creates a sense of competition. In reality, this cast of extras might be nosy neighbours or vendors researching the area.

So, how do you handle the hype?

Always do your due diligence

No matter the state of the market, some things never change.

You always need to put in the appropriate amount of time to do your research, look at your options and get up close and personal with every nook and cranny of a property before making an offer.

Research your competition 

Knowing who you're up against will help you navigate negotiations.

You can ask the vendor agent how many interested parties there are, but they're not guaranteed to give you accurate numbers. So, you need to hit the open house circuit and do your research.

Keep an eye on how many people attend comparable open homes and if you see any of the same people popping up at multiple homes.

And remember, you do have time to make smart decisions

While some properties will always sell fast and perform well, in a slow market, there will be another option for you. You shouldn't get caught up in the hype and commit to a property that isn't your best option.

Stay alert, but take your time and ensure you're constantly assessing all of your options.

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Michelle May is the principal of Michelle May Buyers Agents. She helps clients make better property purchasing decisions through her business as well as her podcast Sydney Property Insider. Michelle is passionate about giving buyers back the power in their property buying experience.