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The Greedy Bully Agent Rears His Ugly Head

The greedy bully agent rears his ugly head!The greedy Bully Agent Rears his Ugly Head

In the Charlotte real estate market, every now and then you run across another agent who does/says something that just makes you cringe...makes you want to call up the NC Real Estate Commission and file a COMPLAINT!  Thankfully, this situation doesn't occur very often...otherwise I would be pulling my hair out!

The following situation occurred with a wonderful new licensee in my Helen Adams brokerage, a woman who formerly practiced real estate law - she is one sharp cookie, and it is my privilege to serve as her mentor!  She's gotten a few transactions under her belt, and it has been a baptism by fire.  But nothing could have prepared her for this email response she received from a top-producing agent in Charlotte.  He was complaining that her seller was only providing X% amount of commission for the buyer agent:

"When you offer XX% to the buyer’s agent let me know.

You are doing your sellers a major disservice by not being competitive.

Good Luck."

Whoa.....my new protege asked if this type of response is to be expected.  She correctly assumed that buyer agents have a fiduciary duty to their CLIENTS, not THEMSELVES, and that to refuse to show a listing because the buyer agent compensation is not what the agent expects is to do a disservice to his/her client.  She pointed out to the bully buyer agent that she DID in fact counsel her seller about the impact of lowering the commission to the buyer agent, but the seller was adamant.  My young colleague took the listing anyway, but never expected to receive a comment like what you see above.

What do you think?  I know it's tough when the commission is not what you expect.  I've had to stomach that and explain the compensation system to my own buyers.  But after an extensive buyer consultation where my services and compensation are specifically laid on the table, most of my buyers readily agree that I should be compensated for my time, expertise and experience, and they are willing to pay any difference in what is offered and what my firm requires.  I do make exceptions, but that is my choice!  

I'm just wondering how this agents' buyers feel when he refuses to show them a property because the compensation arrangement is not what he desires.  That would be a huge red flag for me - I would seriously wonder where this agent's loyalty rested - with me or with himself!

It's tough enough in the real estate business these days!  Our profession doesn't need a bully agent who refuses to play in the sandbox because the compensation isn't what he desires.  I think if I truly felt that way, I would just keep my opinion to myself instead of writing such an asinine email.

So what do you think?  Did the greedy bully just rear his ugly head?

Charlotte home buyers, if you're looking for a Realtor who puts YOUR best interests first, please call, email or text me.  I'd love to have a chat to discover what you're trying to accomplish - buying or selling real estate in Charlotte NC, I can help!




Melissa Brown



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Melissa Brown, Realtor, Charlotte, NC

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Comment balloon 31 commentsMelissa Brown • April 04 2012 06:07PM


Agents do have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. I personally show my clients properties that fit their needs. Some agents may feel like the agent who wrote the email but they don't harrass the listing agent. Foolish move on his part.

Posted by Yvonne Schnee (Keller Williams Realty Moorestown) over 6 years ago

Yvonne, I agree with you!  It may not be palatable, but I've even shown FSBOs to my buyer clients if I thought the home fit their needs.  I couldn't believe this guy's pompous response!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

Melissa,If this is the way this agent does business,its just a matter of time.I will show my clients anything that suits their needs. I don't cherry-pick based on what my commission will be.Caprice

Posted by Caprice Couselle Realtor Morristown Homes For Sale, First Time Home Buyers,Relocation,Horse Farms (Keller Williams Realty) over 6 years ago

I'm with you, Caprice, and i agree, it's only a matter of time before someone reports Mr. Greedy/Bully.  I wanted to call him myself!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

There's nothing that says a buyers agent can't get paid by their clients.  If he has a "set" commission amount he wants to earn per transaction when representing a buyer, then he can tell them to make up the difference in the advertised BAC.  If it's a home with 2.5% BAC, HIS CLIENTS agree to pay the .5% difference.  What a cheap bastard.  It's really NOT the listing agent that sets HIS commission.  If he agrees to the co-op fee split, then fine.  If he wants more, oink, oink, he should get it from his clients.  Nothing prevents him from charging them for his services.

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 6 years ago

Carla, Yes ma'am, we're on the same page here!  The irony of the matter is, this guy is KNOWN in Charlotte for cutting his commission to get listings. Then he turns around and pulls this crap on a newbie.  A pox on him!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

Melissa - if he doesn't like the commission, then don't show the house why berate the listing agent for the commission split. If he is that concerned the professional thing to do is call the listing agent and have a conversation.  It would serve him right if his clients saw this house with a willing agent.

Posted by Linda Urbick, Selling San Ramon Valley - 925-786-5132 (RealtyOne Group) over 6 years ago

HI Melissa, wow. Who wants to do business with him??? My response would have been that he can have his broker contact my broker since that's who the commission agreement is with.


Posted by Andrea Bedard, M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond (Thompson Company, REALTORS®) over 6 years ago

Linda, this agent is know in town for his brazen attitude.  My new licensee is tempted to report him to the NC real estate commission.

Hey Andrea!  Actually few agents in town look forward to working with him because he is so full of himself.  Good suggestion about having him contact the broker!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

Melissa  In addition to being greedy this agent is also very stupid.  It won't be too long brfore the publiv realizes his approach is "self service", not service to the client.  He already has the reputation with the real estate community

Posted by Karen Kruschka, - "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS" (RE/MAX Executives) over 6 years ago

Good call, Karen....self service, not client service.  Not a good business practice!t

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

It's really a shame that buyer's agents act this way.  They do realize they can get paid an additonal amount they feel they may be due, say from a Buyer Brokerage Agreement, from their own client. 

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 6 years ago

Chris Ann, hopefully they realize that.  This guy's been around a long time.  I think he thought he could just push around my colleague who is very new in the business.  Seriously unfortunate!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

Melissa,  this really does hurt to hear.  It is too bad that there are bad seeds like this in our field.  But isn't your gal lucky to have YOU as her a savvy mentor!  Wish her the best on her listing for me... 

Happy Easter!

Posted by Lee & Pamela St. Peter, Making Connections to Success in Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522) over 6 years ago

Hi Pam, Happy Easter to you, too!  I love how you do that umbrella icon!  Yes, it's so unfortunate that my colleague had to deal with this.  It really does demean our industry.  She handled it very professionally and matter-of-factly, although I know her blood was boiling!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

Should that agent have said what they said.  No, of course not.  But he was being honest and perhaps thats not a bad thing.

I'm going to dissent a bit here and step back and look at it from the buyers agent side.  Full Disclosure: I'm mostly a buyers agent although I do list. But 3/4  of my business is buyers based. There has been a lot of manipulation of commisions on the part of LISTING agents.  When I list its 50:50 right down the line.  I this market, any buyers agent that brings me a buyer is bringing me pure GOLD and I treat them accordingly.   But many people who primarily list have a funny way of treating people who are bringing them GOLD.  

A lot of listing agents are hogging a full % more on the coop and I've found out when on listing appointments with expireds that the sellers were totally unaware of this practice.  (I bring up a low coop when I see one because it can be a reason why the home didn't sell.)  Very often I find that they  thought it was going 50:50 and were shocked that their agent was helping themselves to so much.   If a listing agent can't induce the seller to offer a decent commission, they should take the first hit not hog the lions share.   I'm not one for quoting percentages, but commissions around here are often on third lower than what other parts of the country see. So there is no place for this to go except to create a race to the bottom.

Sure, I have them sign a buyer agency agreement, but most will not agree to pay a higher coop.   Those that do, don't want to foot the bill when a home like this comes along and often try to shake down the buyers agent into giving up what was agreed upon. "You aren't REALLY going to make me pay you? I really can't afford it!" Also, very often the buyer will walk if they realize they have to pay up.   It can be a deal killer which after six months in my car, I have to decide whether half a loaf is better than another six months of gas and time. In this buyers market my job is hard enough without commission issues.  Yet I have to eat and I need to get paid decently.

The issues go on and one.  There are also the relocation companies that are charging 40% of the gross commission for the honor of working with a buyer.  There are also agents that are paying lead generators a huge chunk to get buyers.  Most brokers are helping themselves to 50% PLUS a franchise fee.  The point is that if you see a few checks for about $2500 for $500k+ deal you start pushing back or you go out of business. 

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 6 years ago

Ruthmarie,  thanks for your thoughtful comment.  I agree with a lot of what you said.  However in this situation, my colleague was taking the same commission hit that the buyer agent was.  Without quoting actual commissions, when the seller refused to pay the full fee, my colleague counseled them on the possible repercussions.  When they wouldn't budge, she agreed to the cut, and split the commission 50-50 with the buyer agent.  She didn't want to do this, but she's new, and she wanted a listing, and it was a well-priced home in great condition that would sell for a hefty price.

I know we're getting hit from all sides.  I have recently gotten burned by relocation fees to the point where I don't think I'm going to accept them anymore.

But I think this other agent was being a bully and was possibly putting his interests before his buyers.  it was a rude and condescending email to send, and I don't think it was fair or necessary.  I appreciate your perspective, but whether he was being honest or not, I don't think it sends the right message about our profession. 


Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

Hi Melissa,

I agree that it is the wrong message to send... It could be that he was trying to find out if her commission was higher.  I've tried to feel agents out on that point as well since they are often a full percentage point higher than the buyers agent.

The problem is that its a question of where does it stop?  I've stopped with relcoation companies as well.  I have crazy vendors calling me every single day telling me they will "give me leads" for $500 a month. It seems like everyone and their pet canary are trying to get between the agent and the consumer while adding no value to the transaction but helping themselves to a very large slice of the proceeds. Meanwhile consumers are using these clowns and then want to lower what they pay us in addition to using third parties. 

But the big lesson for the new agent is this:  Don't take undercompensated listings!  One thing is certain - a tight-fisted seller is 99% more likely to be difficult throughout the transaction.  I'm struggling and need money desperately.  But I've learned that if a seller (or buyer) is difficult from the get-go - closing them is going to be a time-consuming nightmare best spent on finding other clients who will appreciate my efforts. 


Great blog site btw....I've subscribed...

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 6 years ago

Yes, I hear you loud and clear.  As my husband likes to point out, everyone seems to have their hand in my pocket!  For example, I am getting ready to close what may be my last relocation listing.  I am paying out a whopping 35% referral fee to the relo company, and then my split with my company is capped at an amount that is lower than my normal split.  Add to that - the relo company offered the buyer agent a $1,000 bonus.  I've prepared over 20 weekly reports for the relo company - giving advice and pricing recommendations that were not heeded.  So in this instance the listing agent loses and the buyer agent gets way more.  Not really relevant to the conversation here, but just to point out that listing agents aren't always keeping more for themselves!

I have counseled my protegee on taking listings at a reduced fee.  She understands completely, but feels that she has to start somewhere and get some experience.  

And thanks for subscribing - I've been a subscriber of yours for quite some time!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

Melissa, Yes, the greedy bully agent did rear his ugly head. I personally would not ask my buyer client to pay commissions above and beyond what is offered in the MLS.  It's not about what I get paid it's about serving my clients. It does not serve my client to refuse to show properties that do not pay a certain percentage commission.  If I were the agents buyer I would find myself another agent!

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) over 6 years ago

Melissa, I think the buyer agent was right in a way - it is important to offer a decent coop commission to be competitive.  But I think that putting it in an email is pretty bad form - unless the agent sent him something asking for feedback.  I recently had this conversation with an agent whose coop was totally puny.  She called asking me for feedback and I explained that my buyer said no, and with that puny percentage staring back at me, it was hard ot try to find a way to address her objections to the property in question.  If it had been a fabulous house, well just maybe! 

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Kathleen, I agree.  I won't ask by buyer to pay the difference, unless it's completely ridiculous.  Most of the time, my client will insist on skipping those low co-op properties because they know I'm worth more!

Hi Pat, it really is a tough issue, and I totally agree that it's important to offer a decent coop to be competitive.  My young colleague understands this, but her seller wouldn't agree.  I guess she could have turned down the listing.  I think this agent who sent the email was really rude and condescending, however.

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

Hey Melissa,  I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.  Have a great week.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Hi Melissa,  Interesting post and comment thread.  With every transaction being so different it is difficult to apply a flat rate to each and every one of them.  That said, I think, in the end all of it evens out .

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 6 years ago

Hi Melissa, I am not weighing on the main question since I never discuss compensation ( mine or others) even in the broadest sense.  But the responses in the comments have been excellent and very entertaining. Great reading and insightful by some.

Posted by William Johnson, San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE (RE/MAX Associates) over 6 years ago

I read this early this week, but with Pat's mention I came back.  Interesting comment thread.  Had I known this guy cut his commission, I'd have written back and said "what's good for the goose"  . . . ;-)

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 6 years ago

Hi Melissa,

Your title shows your thoughts on the matter.

I am entirely on the side of the poor hard working agent who sees an agent do something that absolutely ensures that their property will not be shown. He was polite enought to call her out on her ineptness.

This is an entrepreneurial business. We work for commissions, not for love.

Heck, why not put in your listing, "if you sell this house you will have to pay the seller $1000 for the privilege of doing so?"


Posted by Phil Leng, Phil Leng - Retired (Retired) over 6 years ago

There are two factors at work here:  Saying that you won't show a property because of the commission offered to the buyers's agent is wrong and NOT acting in the client's best interest. Our buyer broker agreement spells this out specifically...if the commission offered is less than "x", then the buyer makes up the difference.  However, if the buyer was aware of the decreased commission and did not agree to make up the difference and,, thus, took the property off the list and the agent communicated that you the listing agent, that is just helpful feedback.  It does  not sound like that was the case here though...it sounds like the agent made the decision not to show the property.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 6 years ago

It is usually new agents who take these low commission compensation. They are so thrilled to get a listing, they think everyone will also be as thrilled to work with their client. In time, she will choose sellers who are willing to value their agents.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 6 years ago

" My new licensee is tempted to report him to the NC real estate commission."  Really?  Well, is that the best way for a new licensee to build relationships with other agents?  And while the comment is obnoxious, I just don't see it as a Rule violation. 

"Did the greedy bully just rear his ugly head?"  Well, I do not have enough information to answer.  Just how low was the commission? 

Badly handled by the buyer agent but it also appears to be over reaction by the new licensee that an obnoxious comment email is bullying and reportable to the state commission. 

Of course, I don't have all the facts but just my two cents worth.


Posted by Margaret Mitchell, Seacoast Maine & NH Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Yorke Realty) over 6 years ago

Hi Melissa, thanks for the great post, it's never pleasant to deal with a bully, but he may be doing you a favor in that he is informing you of what he and others who did not contact you may be thinking.  Marketers always say that out of 23 unhappy customers, only one will do you the favor of complaining, the rest just wont buy.

You can now go back to the seller and explain that ethical or not, buyers agents may not be giving this home the coverage that it needs with this compensation package.


Posted by Bob Crane, Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671 (Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams fox cities) about 6 years ago

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