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The Impossible Gap

Agents who inflate the likely selling price with sellers in order to win the listing – who ‘buy the business’ – might get away with it during a boom market, but in a down market this horrible practice no longer works. Many agents paint themselves into a corner.

In our sales program, Winning Ways – A Smarter Sales Career, we teach real estate salespeople that when an agent quotes two figures to buyers by way of a range, the lowest price in that range becomes the de facto list price.

Say an auction property is passed in with only one bidder. The sellers’ reserve is revealed to be $4.5 million but during the inspections buyers had been quoted $3.6 to $3.8 million.

The agent that quoted $4.5 million to the sellers while quoting $3.6 to $3.8 million buyers now has a negotiation gap of $700,000 at best to $900,000 at worst.

The agent has created the self-imposed problem of The Impossible Gap.

Let’s be clear: if you are not a good enough negotiator to tell the sellers the truth at the time of listing about their likely selling price, and take on the listing on a foundation of honesty, you are not good enough to negotiate a $700,000 price gap, especially in a down market.

No doubt I’ll be howled down by those who say this practice is not widespread, just a strategy used by a few ‘bad apples’. But let’s get real. In Victoria, many high-profile cases have seen agents fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for this practice. One day NSW and QLD will follow suit, if they are serious about stamping out the practice.

But integrity aside – from a salesperson’s perspective, why would you resort to tactics that create a no-win situation for you and your clients?

The truth is a wonderful sales tactic if you know how to deliver it with tact. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Gary Pittard
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