Is it best to take advice or give instructions when working with salespeople?


If you are buying and/or selling real estate, it is almost certain that you will cross paths with salespeople. The first question you will find yourself asking is whether to give the salesperson instructions or take advice from them.


For example, when interviewing agents to sell your home, do you instruct ‘The house is worth $1 million and you need to sell it for that price or more’; or do you ask ‘What is our home worth in the current market?’


Too much trust and you can be taken for a ride by an unscrupulous and/or incompetent salesperson. Too little trust where you bark instructions and you may as well not pay the agent to begin with.


The best path is to use a rigorous process to determine and find an agent you can trust.


Below are a few savvy tips to assist you in working with salespeople:


Titles and status

Be wary of salespeople’s self-imposed glorification. ‘We are market leaders’, ‘I have an MBA’, ‘Licenced Real Estate Agent (LREA)’, ‘Member of the Real Estate Institute (REI) since 1902’. Titles and status rank low on the scale of whether to trust a salesperson. Unsolicited recommendations from their happy clients on the other hand is worth taking notice of. A happy client praising the salespersons service is much harder to achieve than a paragraph in personal glorification.



When you run out of questions to ask the salesperson, ask more questions. The time to interrogate the agent is before you employ them. Many people unfortunately only ask the tough questions when the campaign hits trouble. You owe it to yourself to find out exactly who you are employing to handle the sale or purchase of your largest asset.



What if the services do not meet the promises? What recourse or guarantees are there? Many salespeople are happy to throw around appealing statements and promises. As all footy fans know, the performance of the player needs to be replicated on the field otherwise it is cheap locker room talk. To fall for a salesperson’s product promise, have the service fall short of the promise and still pay them full commission is galling.



Allow the salesperson to tell their story. Then ask for evidence to back it up. Is the story and the evidence aligned? If you are putting pen to paper because something the salesperson said simply ‘sounds good’, drama could be around the corner.



Not many salespeople can stare down a deal in the name of the client’s best interests. This is what makes many people wary and even despise salespeople – they are self-interested to the client’s detriment. In real estate, there are many instances where the client’s best interests are a secondary consideration of the salesperson. A common example is the agent that is determined to sell an unrenovated property they have listed to a certain developer/buyer. The developer promises the agent the listing back once it has been renovated. This is a form of insider trading that occurs every day in the property market. By asking tough questions and being aware of the areas of self-interest, you stand a better chance of making the right decision under pressure.


Respect an agent that is confident enough to professionally test and disagree with your views. You are working with an agent to guide you through what you need to know, not confirm what you think you know.


Rapport over professionalism

When you are hiring an agent, you are not looking for a new best friend. If that happens in time, fine. You are looking for (and need) a professional that can get the job done. If you have a legal issue, you do not give the case to a solicitor because you really like them. Salespeople are trained to charm. Make sure they convince you with a compelling presentation rather than charm you with cheap and cheesy compliments (or a high price promise). When it is all said and done, the most professional agent will deliver the best possible result. Respect an agent that is also confident enough to professionally test and disagree with your views. You are working with an agent to guide you through what you need to know, not confirm what you think you know.



Keen to learn more about employing an agent? Click here for our blog on Putting a Value on Real Estate Agents.