What is “Sign Jumping” & When Should You Change Agents?

“Sign Jumping” is a term used in the real estate industry to describe an agent that calls another agent’s seller trying to persuade them to dump their current agent and list with them, usually stating they will do a much better job than your current agent or they have buyers willing to sign a contract now.

Some agents do this on the very first day a property hits the market! Some have built a reputation of doing this and some are very aggressive and persistent to the point of being annoying and rude.

There is nothing illegal in this practice, but it’s certainly unethical and shows the agent doesn’t have the ability, desire or reputation to source their own listings. How do they know what you and your agent have discussed and agreed?

As a friend of mine put it “The agents that have a good reputation and happy clients attract sellers rather than having to chase them“, personally I think it comes down to ethics.

The sales pitch of these agents is quite simple – after all, any seller would rather believe that it’s the agent’s fault that the home hasn’t sold rather than any rejection of their property and/or asking price. In some cases, there may be legitimate reasons and intelligent decisions made by sellers in changing agents that could produce the result that they’re hoping to achieve. 

Now that sellers aren’t seeing 50 people lined up to view their property and they aren’t receiving 20 offers on their property, some sellers think it’s their agent’s fault. They seek to change agents in the hope that another agent will produce some magic pills and achieve a result that the first agent couldn’t…well, that’s certainly what these “sign jumping” agents want sellers to believe.

So, when is there a legitimate and intelligent reason to change agents?

1. ATTITUDE – If your agent seems defeated, it’s definitely time to change.

There are times when a seller’s property isn’t attracting the same amount of interest it originally did when it first hit the market. Some agents rave about the property and the market, until they get the listing paperwork signed then it becomes all doom and gloom. You don’t want an agent that will sugar-coat the situation, but you also don’t want an agent that blames everything they can think of for your property not achieving your desired outcome.

The agent needs to have a positive mindset and on-going ideas on how to increase enquiry levels and do their best to achieve a sellers’ desired result. It’s amazing how many times all seems lost and then, with a quick adjustment, out of the blue a buyer walks in and offers top dollar!

2. MARKETING – I touched on this in last week’s post – marketing is an INVESTMENT in your property NOT A COST!

During Covid it was super easy to sell a house, they pretty much sold themselves! The hardest part was handling and replying to the hundred of emails received on a property.

Marketing on some properties was just a quick photo with the mobile phone and a basic, half-baked advertisement for the websites and voila, the property was sold within a couple of days (sometimes even quicker).

Not so now! As buyer numbers drop and property prices are slightly adjusting (not too much in the Redlands, we have a very robust property market) we are seeing buyers having a lot more choice, and time to act.

Do your own research, look at the way your property appears on the websites compared with other similar properties. An agents first job is to present your property in such a way that buyers don’t want to miss out on viewing the property; our job is to show your property in its absolute prime (even if this means we have to clear your benchtop or remove the clothes from the washing line to get that perfect photo).

If you feel your listing needs improvement, have a discussion with your agent. If your agent takes little action and doesn’t address your concerns, it may just be time to consider making a move to an agent that is willing to put in the hard work to get you the absolutely top result you deserve.

3. AVAILABILITY – It wasn’t too long ago that buyers would be lining up 20 deep and willing to move heaven and earth in order to make a particular open home time or private inspection to ensure they didn’t miss out on seeing a property when it first hit the market.

But again, not so now. The urgency has gone, and buyers are now making inspections at their own leisure and in a timeframe that suits them. This is where you need an agent with a good team around them that can accommodate a wider variety of inspections.

As real estate agents, our job is to provide a service. This includes showing properties after 5pm, and on Sundays, and even in torrential downpours, we need to be available when the buyers require. It’s a 24/7 job and if your agent can’t, or won’t, accommodate these buyers it may be time to look for one that can, and will, because you don’t know how many buyers you are missing by restricting viewing times.

Remember, if you need any help or advice, we are just a phone call away.

All the best, Simon.

Source:  My good friend Michael Spillane

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