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10 Slimy Sales Tactics For Real Estate Agents To Avoid (and what to do instead!)

Posted by Sammy Harper on Jun 5, 2018 10:14:41 AM

Unlike homebuyers of decades past (those poor Internetless saps who didn't have access to Google or Yelp or greatschools.org), today's real estate consumers have countless resources for information. The web is full of bloggers offering their best home-buying tips, news articles about the current state of the real estate market, unfiltered agent reviews, and property listings galore.

Today's homebuyers come to the table well-informed. They can spot a pushy, deceptive sales tactic from a mile away.

For the real estate industry, this is good news all around. It means clients don't get manipulated and swindled. And for agents, it means the good guys—the genuine, hardworking, honest, ethical real estate agents who put their clients' interests first—always get to win.

In my experience, almost all real estate agents are good guys. But there are a few bad apples out there who put their own interests ahead of the people they're supposed to be helping. These real estate agents provide us with a great list of what NOT to do. So take a gander at this post and make sure you're not unintentionally engaging in any of these pushy, manipulative, or downright deceptive sales tactics.


1) Ignoring their timeline.

If your prospects aren't in a huge rush to buy right now, don't pester them. No one likes a pushy salesperson.

Do this instead: Stay in touch by sending them the occasional "checking in" message (check out our 3 tips for real estate prospect and lead follow-up). When they're ready to start looking for a home, you'll be top of mind and they will reach out to you!

2) Pushing them to make an offer before they're ready.

In a competitive real estate market, you have to move fast if you're serious about a listing. This is where some agents might be tempted to push their clients to make an offer they aren’t ready to make.

Do this instead: Inform your clients that this listing won't last long, but also stress the importance of only making an offer on a home they LOVE.

3) Talking more than listening.

We've all experienced the dreaded Sales Pitch—a sales rep yammering on and on about why we need THIS product NOW! In real estate, this translates to the agent telling the buyer what they want...instead of listening.

Don't do all the talking.

Do this instead: Learn about your client’s wants and needs so you can connect them with the perfect home. It's not about you, and what you want them to buy. It's about helping them find their dream home.Here's a great blog post that might help!

4) Disregarding their budget.

When my husband was apartment hunting (way back in the day, before we were married), he asked the leasing agent for the cheapest unit they had.

The leasing agent's reply: “Oh, you don’t want the one-bedroom. The layout is weird. You walk through the door, and the living room is RIGHT THERE.” Um, okay.

It was annoying, and even though my husband did end up living there (he was a recent college grad with no money, so he didn't have many options), he did stay in the one-bedroom, and he did tell everyone what a crappy experience it was.

Don't try to stretch your buyer's budget just so you can getmore commission.

Do this instead: Focus on saving them money. They'll love you for it, and they'll reward you with repeat and referral business.

5) Insulting them.

If they have their heart set on a galley kitchen, don't try to push a different property on them by laughing and saying, “Really? A galley kitchen? When you could have this gorgeous open plan?” Don’t act like they’re stupid for wanting something that doesn't have as high a resale value or isn't as “stylish.” Don’t insult prospects’ tastes, opinions, or budgets.

Do this instead: Ask them WHY they want the galley kitchen, and LISTEN to their reasons. Then, if you feel they truly might like an open plan, tell them about the benefits of that layout, but remain objective and informative. Let them make their own decision.

6) Guilt-tripping them.

Let's say one of your prospects ultimately decides to work with a different agent, even though you've already met with them a couple times and sent them some listings. Don't try to make them feel guilty by saying, "After all I’ve done for you, I can’t believe you’re going to work with that other agent." 

They might have ended up coming back to you…but they sure as hell won’t now.

Say this instead: "Thank you for letting me know, and no hard feelings. I wish you the best of luck! And I'm always here if things don't work out with your other agent."

7) Being a manipulative conversation robot.

Don't overdo the whole "use a person's name" sales tactic. "Bob, I know you're looking to buy a home in the next three months, and I've got to say, Bob, I think we will be able to find you something even sooner, Bob." (Okay, I know that's an exaggeration...but you get the point.) People know this is a tactic to make them feel special; you're not fooling anybody.

Do this instead: Be a human, not a robot. 

8) Listing phantom inventory.

This method of deception involves leaving properties on your website which have already sold or are no longer available so buyers will contact you and inquire. Apparently, the idea is "more buyer calls = more buyer leads." But all this does is piss people off. They get their hopes up, only to learn that the property is no longer for sale. It's a waste of time for both of you. 

Do this instead:Always remove a listing from your website as soon as it becomes unavailable, and send an email to all interested parties letting them know the house is under contract.

9) Dodging their questions.

Let's say your buyer client asks, “Has this house ever had water damage?” The deceptive agent will answer, “Look at these beautiful baseboards! Absolutely no evidence of water damage!”

But that's clearly dodging the question. 

Say this instead:“That’s a good question. I can understand why you might be worried about that since this is in a flood zone. I’ll find out and let you know.”

10) Making empty promises.

Deceptive agents will make promises they know they'll never keep, just to win someone over as a client. But in the end, those empty promises will come back to bite them.

Do this instead: Set only realistic expectations with your prospects and clients, and you'll never let them down.


There are some real slimeballs out there—agents who will lie, coerce, and manipulate buyers. Don't be one of those real estate agents. Put your client's needs ahead of your own. Be a trusted adviser, not a salesperson. Be honest, transparent, and genuine in everything you do and say. Do business with integrity.

Because the good guys always win in the end.

Topics: Real Estate Success

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