Exclusive rights vs. multiple property agents: Which is better?

7 min read

You can engage as many real estate agents you want, and that’s just what some people do when trying to sell or rent out their properties. It’s like having a football team with 20 players instead of 11: more people, more chances to score right? Actually, it’s not quite that simple. Here’s what you need to know before you use a whole army of agents, or give a property agent exclusive rights to market your property, be it for sale or renting out.

The pros of multiple property agents:

  • You can theoretically reach a wider group of buyers
  • You’re getting a wider perspective
  • You can access different buyer demographics
  1. You can theoretically reach a wider group of buyers

This is the theoretical “shotgun effect”. If one property agent with exclusive right can buy two interested buyers/tenants, ten property agents can find 20. This remains one of the core reasons why some sellers/landlords want multiple agents: they think they can close the deal a lot faster.

But further below, we’ll explain why we think this theory is outdated.

  1. You’re getting a wider perspective

More agents often mean more feedback. You’ll get a wider range of opinions, such as on what renovations to make to attract more tenants, or which nearby amenities to highlight, or how much you should set your asking price. Since each agent potentially brings a new insight, you could learn a lot about your property that you hadn’t considered.

The downside to this is analysis paralysis. It’s kind of hosting a marketing meeting with 30 people, and ending up taking six months to decide on the colour of a product. You also need to remember that not all agents have equally informed opinions – that leaves it up to you to filter out the valuable insights from the rubbish.

exclusive rights property agent
More agents, more headaches?
  1. You can access different buyer demographics

Different agents, in theory, cater to different types of buyers. By using multiple agents, you can market your property to multiple demographics at once; for landlords this would mean reaching different types of tenants, from foreign students to affluent single expatriates.

There typically isn’t a diverse demographic where buyers are concerned, so using multiple agents to reach different profiles is usually done by landlords who want to rent out, but aren’t sure which segment of the market they should target. Even though this sounds reasonable, we don’t fully agree with this, for reasons described below.

The far bigger downsides of using multiple agents

Back in pre-internet days, the two positions – multiple agents versus an agent with exclusive rights – were more or less equal, but buyers now rely on online platforms, such as those on the 99.co property portal, when buying property. Changes in the way a property is bought and sold, coupled with new regulations implemented over the years that restrict the ways agents can market their properties, mean there’s now more advantages to using an exclusive agent. That’s because:

  • Almost all agents now use the same platforms to market your property
  • For regular residential properties, you seldom need access to niche demographics
  • Prioritisation is more important than numbers
  • Multiple listings can confuse prospective renters or buyers
  1. Almost all agents now use the same platforms to market your property

Before the rise of online listings, marketing properties was less efficient. It mattered how many flyers your agent put out, how many cold calls they made, and which newspapers or magazines they would advertise in. Multiple agents were more helpful in those days, as they were needed to cover more ground.

But today, most buyers go through the same online listings sites (such as 99.co), or browse using the same apps. And because of the way internet listings work, you’ll reach roughly the same volume of potential buyers, regardless of how many agents you use. The Do Not Call registry and Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) rules against flyer distribution also helped concentrate agent marketing efforts on online portals.

(At most, having multiple agents will mean your listing gets posted a few more times, but that’s also a drawback – see point 4).

  1. For regular residential properties, you seldom need access to niche demographics

It’s commonly said that different agents can access different demographics. But the question you have to ask yourself is: does that really matter for your property?

If you’re trying to sell a property that’s out of the norm – such as a $15 million penthouse, or an industrial manufacturing site – then having a group of specialised agents can be important. You’ll want agents who can access certain niche demographics (e.g. one agent to target the super-affluent, one agent to target businesses buying properties, and so forth). Each agent may also have personal networks they can tap on for potential buyers.

But for selling more mainstream properties, such as HDB resale flats or mass market condos, these specialisations matter less. The buyer demographics are not as niche, and most agents will be reaching out to the same pool of people.

For renting out properties, different demographics now rely on the same means — online portals — to find their rooms and units to rent, thus negating the need for multiple agents.

Canberra Residences condo Singapore
Mass market condos usually appeal to a uniform demographic.
  1. Prioritisation is more important than numbers

Because real estate agents are in sales, there’s the old misconception that it’s just a numbers game. Now that may be true for the agent in question, but sellers and landlords are always better off focusing on quality.

There’s no point having five agents who can sell your property, if all of them put you last on the priority list (because they think someone else might get the commission). Even worse, a non-exclusive agent might use your house as leverage to sell another property on his/her list. The agent might show a prospective buyer your house first, because he/she has access to it, after which they’ll immediately bring the buyer to a better house, using the technique of contrast to pump up the perceived value of the second home. In short, you might get played if you use multiple agents.

  1. Multiple listings can confuse prospective renters or buyers

This is why some agents hate listing houses, after another agent already has. Prospects get confused when they see the same property marketed by different agents – they may think some of the listings are old, or wonder if there might be something wrong about the house. They might even deduce it’s a scam.

Put yourself in their shoes: imagine if Agent A shows you around the house, and the next day you find the same property listed, but with Agent B as the contact — you’ll feel that you’re being played.

So, stick to an exclusive agent if you don’t want prospective buyers to start asking questions like “How come there are so many agents and it’s still not sold? Have all the other agents gave up?” We wouldn’t stand for the humiliation if we were you.

In general, it’s better to give one property agent the exclusive rights to sell or rent out your property.

Given how properties are marketed nowadays, as well as buyer behaviour and mindsets, there’s very little to recommend the “multiple agents” route. It’s much better to switch agents if the current one isn’t performing. It’s not hard to do, and it ensures every agent you engage is more committed to market your property.

Would you get one or multiple agents to market your property? Share your thoughts in the comments section or on our Facebook community page.

 

If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends Property agent commission in Singapore: How much should I pay? and Sell vs rent out your property: How to make the right decision

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