My entire life I’ve been known as Batman. My Dad called me that since before I can remember and it is how I am known in my family. Lately, I’ve been watching the show “Gotham” and I now suspect my Dad got it wrong. I am not the vigilante, Batman. I am the idealist, Jim Gordon, aka Chief Gordon.
In the show, Jim Gordon has an unwavering sense of right and wrong. He doggedly pursues the bad guy at the risk of losing everything- his personal life, his partner, the respect of the entire police force and the support all of city hall. If Jim Gordon would just compromise a tiny bit, he could have an easier life, make more money, have more friends and win the respect of his peers. But Gordon is an idealist. He is the one guy who believes that justice and truth is more important than anything. And, here is the interesting thing. Most of Gotham City is completely unaware that Jim Gordon is the only thing standing between them and complete lawlessness and corruption.
I am Jim Gordon. I am often the only thing standing between my client and their highest and best bottom line. If I would compromise, just a tiny bit, I could make more money, sell more homes and be covered in awards for being the “Mostest”.
Most sellers have no idea the damage or value an agent can bring to a transaction. They think they are in control of the negotiation and that the sales price is simply the price. But this is not the case. The decisions we make in those unseen moments during a phone call with a interested buyer or an email exchange with an agent are the difference between the highest net possible and just a sale.
It is so easy to shade the truth or withhold a fact. Maybe tell a white lie or show favor to an old friend who needs to make a sale. These subtle actions by an agent can bring a quicker sale (and payday) to an agent at the possible expense of the seller’s net.
Dual agency (where the same agent represent both buyer and seller) is a ridiculous temptation. In my area and in today’s market, buyers want it and the sellers see no harm in it. But, were I not Jim Gordon, I could do so much harm… and no one would ever know. Tell my buyer a little bit more than I tell the other agents, withhold some information from the sellers, mislead other agents on when offers are due or what the seller wants in an ideal offer. Some agents will even lie- telling all other agents to write offers lower than the number they tell their own buyer to offer. Or, telling agents a property is sold when, in fact, it is still open for more offers.
While everyone is misdirected, write an offer you know the seller will take and get them to sign it. Most sellers will never know that their agent could have- and should have- done more to fan the flames of competition in order to find the highest and best price possible.
But I am Jim Gordon and I am an idealist. I have blown a number of chances to represent buyers on my own listings. I have “lost” close to $50,000 in commissions in just the last 6 months by refusing to compromise my sellers highest possible net or my own sense of fair play and integrity. There was the buyer who came to my public open house with his agent in tow and then asked me to cut her out of the deal so that I could represent him. He thought that was the best way to “win” the house. Or the buyer who wanted me to write an offer on another listing of mine- the price was high, but the down payment was low. All I had to do was tell the seller that this buyer was well qualified and that is was the only offer. It would have been so easy.
I am constantly faced with decisions that can line my own pockets and potentially harm my clients. No one is watching. No one will know.
Do I ever engage in Dual Agency? Sure. Under the right circumstances it can be the best thing for everyone. I know both sides will get complete and timely information and I won’t have to depend on the other agent’s competency. But I have to know (and I disclose to the buyers upfront) that the wining bid is the best possible bid for my seller, regardless of who represents him.
At the end of the day, though, I am the only one who will know if I truly did everything I could to get that best offer for my seller.
I am an idealist and I am committed to standing in the gap between what everyone expects and what I know I need to do. Chief Gordon, you are my hero.