It's just not cricket

There’s no denying the local market is hot and that the pressure between agencies to secure a limited supply of listings for release to a super-keen band of buyers is intense. The 4069 postcode has no shortage of real estate agents, only a shortage of supply due to the established and contented nature of the community, so in short we’re dealing with a small pie being cut into very small pieces. And that’s okay. It’s exciting to operate within such a competitive market! In a perfect world it means that everyone has to lift their standards and services in order to excel, effectively raising the bar overall. In reality, however, such pressure has the opposite effect on some agents, reducing them to tactics and behaviour that compromise not only their own integrity but the integrity of the industry as a whole. If their behaviour didn’t affect me and the community in which I live and work, then I would have nothing to say about this. But it does directly affect me and it directly affects you. No names or pack drills here – I seek not to expose the offender but the practice, the practice being to erect For Sale signs on properties prior to any contract being signed. It is first and foremost illegal. It is secondly unethical. And it is finally reprehensible. I have witnessed two recent incidents in which a sign was placed outside a property without contractual authority. In one case, the home’s seller was advised by the agent that this was normal practice, even though the seller was still in discussions with other agents wishing to sell the property. (Presumably the offending agent thought their sign would send out a “Too late, back off” signal to the competition. It did not.) In the other case, the agent placed the sign on a vacant block of land without the seller (who lived elsewhere) even knowing. The seller must have got quite a shock when he called into town to check on his asset only to discover it was allegedly for sale. My information tells me that the agent’s explanation was that he was trying to do the property owner a “favour” by attracting interest in his absence. Whatever you might construe from that explanation, and the underlying motivation, the act itself is illegal. For Sale signs are one of the most important marketing tools an agent has going for them – the more there are up and about around the community, the more enquiries they attract. Success breeds success. It’s something I hope to breed a lot of myself this year, but I can assure you that when you see a Century 21 Westside sign in front of a property, it’s supposed to be there.