If Icarus was an Agent

The Greek story of Icarus, like all good myths, provides insight into the best and worst of the human condition. The story is well known; Icarus, in fleeing Crete with his father who fashions wings from feathers and wax, is warned not to fly too close to the sun. Icarus, overcome with the joy of flight, falls victim to his own hubris, arrogance and dangerous over-confidence, soars too high, the wax melts, he plunges into the sea and drowns.

Real Estate Agents can similarly fall victim to their own hubris. Hard working, successful agents who grow their profiles are sometimes lulled into a sense of self importance that puts at risk their primary responsibility to act in the best interest of their client.

Their desire to maintain local market dominance can lead to some agents providing advice that may work in their interests contrary to that of their client. Pushing a vendor to accept an offer that is below market sentiment, failing to properly promote the property or falsely attributing a colleague’s sale to themselves are examples of agent hubris.

I recently heard that a high-profile local agent had fabricated the negotiation of a buyers’ offer by first writing a lower purchase price, crossing it out then writing in a higher figure to give the impression they’d negotiated the ‘buyer up’. The buyer had wanted to offer the higher price from the outset. This dishonesty is meant to encourage their client to accept an offer that has been falsely represented as being more than the buyer wanted to originally pay. Appalling behaviour.

Unfortunately, these high-profile hubristic agents attract sellers who, on the grounds they ‘sell the most around here’ list with them without properly exploring alternates. Some high-volume selling agents are often more interested in maintaining their volumes than getting you the best possible price.

Of course, not all high-profile successful agents are self-indulged egotists. We are fortunate that the well-established agencies around Fremantle are full of genuine, professional agents passionate about delivering the best possible result for their clients. Agencies compete but mostly on a mutually respectful basis. Competition is good for everyone. It keeps agents on their toes and ensures services delivered and fees charged are determined by the open market.

But some agents seek to undermine honest competition. One high-profile northern suburbs agent, blinded by his own hubris, has been charged this week for stealing a competitor’s home open directional signs. Here’s an agent that sold $132m worth of property in 2018. At a 2.5 per cent average commission, that’s $3.3m in earnings in a year! If found guilty of the charges, this agent has tarnished his reputation and risked his career for a few hundred dollars’ worth of signs because his arrogance couldn’t allow a potential competitor to share a space that he thought was exclusively his.

This sort of blind arrogance is precisely what led to Icarus’ demise.

Accordingly, consumers of real estate services would be wise to thoroughly research the personal and professional reputation of their preferred agent.

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