7 Reasons Why Engaging Multiple Property Agents To Sell Your Home Is No Longer Helpful
- Ryan J
- September 8, 2021
- 7 min read
A common question, why trying to sell your home, is why you wouldn’t just let a few dozen agents try to help you. The first one to get the best deal wins. More agents, more listings, and more exposure – simple right? But in reality, many sellers find it takes even longer, or that they get fewer inquiries. Due to the nature of the Singapore private property market today, it’s likely that having multiple agents will end up doing more harm than good; and here’s why:
Engaging multiple property agents could be helpful, many decades ago
This was in the era before property portals became common.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, property was often marketed through old-school methods, such as good old-fashioned flyers, classifieds, and cold calls. In such an environment, having multiple agents was useful. After all, there are also so many doors, or so many phone calls, a single agent can make. Having an agent with a good network was important, to tap on their network.
However, the advent of property portals and search engines (part of the “proptech” revolution) has turned this around.
It’s more common for buyers to find listings online by themselves, and then get put in touch with the relevant agent; not least because a lot of people are now on the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) Do Not Call list, which stops them from receiving cold calls.
Because of this significant change in the industry, engaging multiple agents now have the following negative effects:
- Agents are negotiating prices separately
- It’s more tedious to manage
- Looking desperate to buyers
- Lower quality of service
- Potentially lower visibility for your listing
- Unflattering listings
- You waste time with useless viewings
1. Agents are negotiating prices separately
When you have multiple property agents, they’re all negotiating prices on their own, with different prospective buyers. Because the agents aren’t coordinating with one another, buyers can sometimes take advantage of this to push down the price. Remember, the agents aren’t aligned with you – it’s whoever can close the deal first that will be their priority.
For example, the same buyer may go to different agents, and try to negotiate for the lowest price amongst them. This is ultimately detrimental to you, as you’d end up with the lowest offer they make.
There’s also a coordination issue here: if you decide to raise or lower your price, you’ll have to make sure all the agents are aware of it. Otherwise, you could end up with disparate listings, at different price points.
2. It’s more tedious to manage
Engaging multiple agents will increase the number of phone calls, text messages, e-mails, etc. that you’re going to receive; and no, this isn’t from a higher volume of interested buyers.
Every property agent who wants to market your home is going to need details: they need floor plans, pictures, and an idea of your overall plans (e.g., whether you need to sell within a certain time frame, or the lowest offer you’ll accept).
When you have only one property agent, you can get all this wrapped up in a single conversation. When you engage multiple agents, you had best be prepared to repeat yourself to each one, and resend the floor plans, photographs, etc. to everyone trying to help you.
Also, consider the best-case scenario – which is that multiple agents all find you prospective buyers. Every one of these agents needs to contact you, and arrange for viewings, or talk to you about each buyer’s offer. If you are still staying in the home that you are selling, you will have to arrange for multiple viewing times to make sure they don’t clash. In today’s Covid-19 environment, it gets even more complicated as there are limitations to the number of people that can come to your home.
If you have five agents, all of whom have one prospective buyer, then you need to set aside time for five separate conversations. This can get quite irritating for some sellers.
3. Looking desperate to buyers
When you engage multiple agents, they might all make listings for your same unit, with their own name on it. Also, these listings tend to stay up for a long time, and be on the last few pages (for reasons described below).
The few buyers who spot your listing might see it’s several months old. Those who search further might also notice you have engaged multiple agents. This could lead them to conclude that you have a “problem” unit of some kind, which you’re struggling to sell.
In many cases, this leads to fewer inquiries, as buyers avoid your listing. Even when buyers do contact the relevant agent, they may come in expecting a lower price, based on what they’ve seen.
Perhaps it might not matter as much in today’s hot market, but when the market slows, this could be something worth taking note of.
4. Lower quality of service
A good property agent can do much more than just market your home. For example, a dedicated agent can time the sale of your flat and the purchase of a new condo, so that they happen almost concurrently.
Some agents even lend their own furniture to sellers, to make the property look better; or bring their own track lights, do photo-editing, etc.
At the very least, an agent dedicated to your listing will be more responsive because they are incentivised to perform during the exclusive period. If you have multiple agents, chances are your questions or e-mails get answered several days later.
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5. Potentially lower visibility for your listing
As we mentioned above, most buyers today visit property sites, when they’re searching for homes.
Agents use these sites to post listings; and on many of these sites, the prominence of your listing depends on the agent’s marketing spend. Agents pay the site to boost the listings and ensure it’s at the top of the search process (there are some variations on this, but it’s generally how the process works).
For example, PropertyGuru has recently increased their prices – and with that, there will be an opportunity cost to the agents if they take up a non-exclusive listing. There aren’t many agents that would want to spend credits to boost a listing, if they aren’t even certain that they would be able to secure the sale.
Now on the upside, you may have your listing appear more frequently, as each agent pays to put up one version of it. However, the ultimate benefits are quite limited.
A single agent, spending hundreds of dollars to keep your listing at the top, is still more helpful than 10 agents who spend nothing to boost your listing. You could end up with 10 repeat listings, but all on the last pages of a search, where few buyers will see them (more so for popular condos or recently completed developments, with many listings as competition).
The same goes with social media ads on FB, and Instagram, where there is a cost to advertising on these platforms. Let’s not even get started with videos, as these can be expensive to produce, and a lot of time taken to script and produce a quality video.
When you engage multiple agents, no one wants to risk spending a fortune to market your property, only for someone else to close the deal. As such, having multiple agents can ironically give you less visibility.
6. Unflattering listings
Property agents will prioritise clients who give them exclusivity. Because they’re the only ones who can close the deal, they’re more willing to help stage the home, get professional photography, write up proper listings, etc.
Buyers who don’t have exclusive agents tend to end up with hurried listings. This is when you see copy-pasted text with typos, blurred photographs taken in 10 minutes, and the worst perspective shots.
Along with the old, multiple listings (see point 2), it can make even the best units look second-rate.
7. You waste time with useless viewings
Agents will prioritise the clients who work with them exclusively, as those listings are the units they most want to sell.
This means that your property often ends up being a “last resort” viewing. Agents turn to it when buyers haven’t liked everything else they’ve seen. This is not ideal for a seller, as it means a higher chance of getting the fussiest, most unrealistic, or most disillusioned buyers.
So even in the off chance your multiple agents bring in more viewings (a rarity in our experience), you could find you’re still failing to sell. This just reduces such viewings to a pointless inconvenience.
That said, there is one important drawback to sticking with a single agent
If you give an exclusive deal to a property agent, there is a risk that – even if you somehow close a deal with a buyer without the agent’s help – you may still be obliged to pay their service fee. This can result in legal entanglements, although such situations are rare.
If you have multiple agents, it’s much tougher for any single one to prove your sale was based on their sole effort.
Given the rarity of these situations, however, the drawbacks of using multiple engagements tend to outweigh the benefits.
It’s especially inadvisable to use multiple agents when you’re on a tight timeframe, such as if you need the sale proceeds for your next home, or you’re nearing the end of your ABSD remission deadline. In these cases, you won’t want to risk a slower transaction, where every agent treats your listing as an afterthought.