The Crumpled Letter Solicitation

A recent Knoxville News Sentinel article highlighted that there are now more realtors in the Knoxville area than there are houses to be sold.

And along with that reality has come a hyper competitive environment for realtors. With that environment we are starting to see more unethical practices surface as some agents become desperate to get business.

A few Sunday afternoons back my friend Kristi sent me a text with a link to a Facebook group thread that discussed an unethical practice that had just occurred to a single female by a local Knoxville realtor.

I tried accessing the link to the Facebook group post and I was unable to see it because I wasn’t a member of the group. It was the Knoxville Crime Group, which I discovered has over 92,000 members.

I told Kristi this and she sent me the screen shots of the thread- and what I read was quite shocking.

The lead post, written by the victim of the practice, read,

“Please beware..I will be filing a report with KPD, but thought you all should be aware.

I got a solicitation in the mail a week or 2 ago from this realtor…I threw it away and then I get this in the mail when I got home today…

So this creepy realtor went through my trash and ADMITTED to it on a handwritten post it note and mailed it back to me!!! This is so not ok!”


Folks began expressing their disbelief, and after dozens of comments, some in which the agent in question was “tagged”, he finally entered the conversation and posted the following:

“I print 2 copies of the same report, fill them out to look similar and knowing you’ll throw the first away and then I mail one immediately after leaving one on your door.”

I did some research on this specific tactic, which some real estate trainers and coaches are encouraging hungry agents to enact.

It starts with the realtor reaching out to expired listings, which are homes that were on the market for a period of time and for whatever reason didn’t sell and the listing contract “expired.” The agent either goes door to door leaving a flyer or mailing an old listing flyer, and writing on it that he knows why the listing didn’t sell- and for the owner to call him and he would help them sell it.

Knowing that most people throw away these kinds of solicitations, the agent then takes the same flyer and crumples it up and puts a sticky on it with the same solicitation, making it appear that he pulled it from the trash.

The conversation continued after the realtor explained the tactic.

One person responded,

“Why would you send out mailers making it look like you went through the trash? This is the dumbest marketing tactic I’ve ever seen.”

As I read through these comments, I honestly began to feel sorry for the agent. We all make mistakes and the helpful growing side of being a human is owning up to them, learning from them, and growing from them. I was hopeful that he would own up his mistake and the homeowner could forgive and the thread could end.

But in fact, the agent did the exact opposite.

I went to his personal profile where he posted a video, chastising the homeowner and placing the blame on her for “over-reacting” , “playing the victim”, and not having a sense of humor.

He later posted on the thread,

“Next time I’d appreciate a phone call or even have the cops come see me so I can explain myself to them before you blast me on social media. I’m trying to build a business and support my family and this could really hurt my ability to feed my wife and daughter. All over a misunderstanding.”

He continues, “This was apparently a marketing tactic that worked with my coach and was encouraged to try it to stand out.”

In this era where fear of crime runs prevalent in our neighborhoods, it should seem obvious to most logical people that it isn’t cool to insinuate that you were going through some one’s trash. There are countless stories of identity theft happening from thieves pillaging through trash to find old credit card statements or other documents that may have personal information on it, like social security numbers.

The agent would have been smart to quickly apologize instead of becoming defensive. Humans do make mistakes, and it is best to own responsibility unequivocally for those mistakes than to become defensive and blame someone else.

Here’s hoping other agents will learn the lesson that this tactic, taught by coaches and trainers, is bad business and is something to avoid. There are other ways to earn business that doesn’t rely on sleazy tactics that in the end hurt all parties involved.

Author and Publisher of Cameron Brooks News and Views and Affiliate Broker with Realty Executives Associates. Call or text me at 865-387-4408 or email at [email protected].

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