Sounds like you have an astute business person for an agent... congratulations. We have often discussed the agents that will list at any price because they are either: a. ignorant and thrilled to finally have a listing to work on, or b. they are going to take the listing and beat you up week after week for a price reduction. The smart agent knows that an overpriced listing won't sell, and ultimately it will have a detrimental impact on the Market and the property itself.
The matter is actually more involved for the savvy agent, the good business person that understands not just the mechanics of the industry, but the fact that it is, indeed, a business. Despite the perception of the uninformed public that all a listing agent does is put a sign in the ground and put the property in MLS, there is a lot more to it. When a homeowner signs a listing they agree to pay the agent a selling fee when the agent has performed ... not just procuring a Buyer, but actually closing the escrow with the Buyer.
When an agent lists a property they are committing to a substantial financial investment. In our particular market area, Northern Nevada, Just taking a listing actually costs the agent around $2,000 of hard money... without the extra stuff. Then there are ongoing monthly carrying costs in the neighborhood of $400 per listing. That figure will vary according to how many listings the agent carries and what his monthly operating costs are, i.e.- if an agent has ten listings and a monthly base cost of operation of $5,000 his monthly cost per listing is $500. If it takes six months to sell your home, a neutral market (not Buyer or Seller), the carrying cost is $3,000. The agent's cost is now $5,000 without a guarantee of any return. If you have a $300,000 home and their side of the fee is 3% they will gross $6,000. Now you know that the net is only $1,000 for their personal expenses, i.e.- taxes, house payment, food, utilities, recreation... life.
Some agents might take a listing for the sign placement if you have a highly visible property. That is an old school thought for there are fewer sign calls these days with the proliferation of the Internet in our industry. If your agent is taking the listing too high you might be an unwitting victim ... and so is the agent. They are only fooling themselves as to their actual benefits of the listing, and they aren't serving you well.
Our Advice: Even in a traditional office where agents don't pay as many direct costs, they still pay as their broker receives a larger portion of the selling fee. Many agents, regardless of their fee-split arrangement, don't know they are in business. Be careful with such an agent when considering them to list your home. If they can't manage their own finances properly how careful will they be with yours... your money... when it comes time to negotiate on your behalf and to protect you through the escrow process that is fraught with financial traps?! There is no "let's just try it", or "they can always make an offer" since marketing times have gone from a week to nine months on average. The costs and risk are just too high to put your hook in the water on a whim.
An agent must protect your property and investment as well as their time and financial expenditures when they take a listing. The art is to price it right - to get you the most possible in a reasonable period of time. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-5472, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.carsonvalleyland.com