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by Neil Jenman

Article written and provided by Neil Jenman from Jenman.com.au . To see the original source of this article please click here. https://jenman.com.au/propertys-prickly-pear/. Neil Jenman is Australia’s trusted consumer crusader. He can support you, all the way, from choosing an agent who will get you the highest price guaranteed to when your removalist comes! You get an unprecedented level of total support. All for free. To find out more visit jenman.com.au

Reading Time: 8 mins apx

VPA – ‘Vendor Paid Advertising’. It’s now the most common scam in real estate.

More than 90 per cent of agents perpetrate this scam. In some areas, it’s 100 per cent – all agents are conning all sellers.

Except those sellers who know the truth. And those who know how to protect themselves.

The VPA scam is a plague unique to Australia. A scam that, in the 2020s, has spread like the prickly pear plague of the 1920s that hurt farmers. Only now it hurts home-sellers.

If you are selling a property, agents manipulate you emotionally. They make you feel it’s “fair” for you to pay to advertise your home. But, in real estate, “fair’ is as rare as, well, as humble agents.

It doesn’t matter how often I see this scam; it makes me wild. Especially how agents prey on the inherent goodness of sellers. Decent people like nurses and paramedics, who spend their lives helping others.

People such as Elizabeth, a nurse in the cardiac ward of a hospital. Elizabeth saves lives. If a real estate agent was Elizabeth’s patient, she would fight to save the agent’s life. Her patients’ welfare is her priority.

But if Elizabeth was the client of that same agent, the agent would con Elizabeth with the VPA scam. Most agents make their welfare their priority.

Caring for people is the nature of nurses. It’s why they are the most trusted of the professions. The nature of most agents, however, is to take care of themselves, especially with the VPA scam. It’s why agents are the least trusted of all professions.

Here is how devious agents deceive decent sellers. And emotionally “guilt” them.


Agents will make you feel that, as it is your home, you should pay the advertising.

If you are like most sellers – inexperienced – you may not know that, everywhere else in the world, advertising is included in agents’ commissions. VPA is a nasty Aussie scam.

You may be shocked to discover that commission is as much as, say, $50,000 (2.5% on a $2 million home) and advertising costs – payable in advance (or via a grubby money lending pay-later mob slugging 50% interest) – can be another $20,000.

Agents say the more you spend advertising, the more your sale price.

What agents will not tell you is that they already have buyers known to them. Most agents are lazy. Instead of following-up buyers, they take your money to promote themselves and attract buyers known to them.

The honest meaning of the letters VPA should be Vendor Promotes Agent.

Do not fall for this scam. As I often say, if you went to a butcher to order steaks for a barbeque, imagine if the butcher said: “Give us money to advertise to find some cows.”

Sound stupid?

It’s no more stupid than agents asking you for money to find buyers.

Please get this: Just as you buy meat from a butcher, so do you “buy a buyer” from an agent. You do not go to an agent to buy advertising to promote the agent.

“But it’s your home,” wails the agent. “It’s only fair you pay advertising. If I pay and you don’t sell, I lose my money.”

Do not fall for this guilt-trip con game.

Here’s what happens if you get suckered into paying money, supposedly to advertise your home: Other home-sellers contact the agent. The agents then sell these other homes and earn tens of thousands of dollars in commission.

All at your expense.

Let’s think about something. Most agents don’t like you to “think about it”. And here’s why.

If you pay the advertising, shouldn’t you get the commissions from homes the agents find and sell? You paid for the agent’s leads. You should “own” these leads.

No, this is the scam.

These VPA agents want it both ways. They give you the risk. But they take the reward. They charge you for advertising then pocket commissions from the sales from your money you spent advertising. Plus, often a major kickback (they call it a “rebate”) on your advertising money.

And guess what?

If your home does not sell – because you refuse to drop your price – you lose the advertising money.

With the VPA scams, the agents can’t lose. Only you, the sellers, can lose.

This happened to Elizabeth. She put her home for sale. The agent promised her $800,000. He charged her $3,000 advertising. He then pressured her to sell for $700,000. “The market is softening,” he said.

Rubbish. Property is still booming in her area.

Elizabeth refused to sell for lower than the agent quoted her.

So, she lost $3,000 for “advertising costs”.

As happens with the VPA scam, the agent got free promotion for himself (they call it “profile”).

The agent also got plenty of extra buyer leads. Indeed, in this case, the agent picked up several sellers and listed and sold at least two other homes – with a commission of $40,000 for one home and $53,000 for the other home. Maybe more sales will come soon.

Yes, the agent got $93,000 in commissions (plus more VPA scam money) as a direct consequence of the $3,000 advertising money spent (lost!) by Elizabeth. So far.

Elizabeth, the nurse who spends her life saving lives (of people like agents who rip off people like her), lost her $3,000.

This happens to thousands of sellers: The agent profited from the loss of Elizabeth. To profit from losses of clients is highly unethical. That’s the VPA scam, the financial prickly pear.

I asked Elizabeth: How long would it take you, a nurse, to save three thousand dollars?

Her answer: “Maybe three months.”

And you wonder why I get wild at these agents who recklessly destroy the savings of decent people like Elizabeth with VPA scams.


What can you do to avoid property’s financial prickly pear? The VPA scams!

First, stand up for yourself.

Follow the Golden Rule: “NEVER PAY ANY MONEY UNTIL YOUR HOME IS SOLD and you are happy [with the price and the service].”

Second, ask the agent: “If you want me to pay thousands of dollars advertising to find a buyer, why do I need you? I can place my own advertisement and save the commission.”

As many sellers are now doing: Finding their own buyers and making their own sales. And believe this: Many are not only saving tens of thousands of dollars in commission and the VPA scam but, they are also getting hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the agents could get. [Feel free to ask us how].

Please don’t fall for another other great con line – “Agents are great negotiators”. Try asking any agent how many books they have read on negotiation. Most have read none.

Show them this article.

And ask: “If I pay advertising, will I get the commission on sales from my advertising?”

Finally, just say this: “This is my home. I want an agent who takes the risk, not one who gives me all the risk. If you think my home needs advertising – because you don’t have any buyers on your books – you pay. When you find a buyer acceptable to me, then – and only then – I will pay you.”

Yes, only pay when you get the result you want.

Just like when you buy meat from a butcher.

This is the way business should be. It’s what smart sellers now demand. They pay when they get the result. Not before.

It’s the way to sell your home without being part of the prickly pear VPA scam!