Editor’s note: Meet Teresa Boardman at the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 5-7, 2009. She will be available to meet with conference attendees from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6, in the Palace Hotel’s Ralston Room. Click here to send Teresa a message.

A few years ago I was telling sellers I could sell their home quickly and for a good price. That is what they wanted to hear then and that is what they still want to hear.

Sellers expect my listing presentation to consist of all kinds of information about how fast I can sell a home, and seem disappointed when I don’t tell them that I can do anything.

These days I end up having a conversation with sellers outlining how it all works and what to expect and, of course, going over my services and fees. I also find myself spending a bit of time going over the things that can go wrong — maybe too much time.

It pays off when there is a problem and they are prepared. If there is no problem — well, I gave them more to think about, stress over, discuss, and build out of proportion. Some may even call me while I am eating dinner and ask more questions.

Last week I was able to sell one of my listings before the sign was planted. Except for the endless demands the buyers made about things that should be fixed, the sellers are very pleased.

When I initially met with the sellers they asked me if I could sell their home. I more or less said it depends. They wanted to know how long it will take to sell and I said it depends. They wanted to know what they should list it for.

They got an immediate answer, but when they asked about waiting to place it on the market, and whether it be worth more or less down the road, they got another "it depends."

They wanted to know if the value would go up or down in a few months and were surprised when I told them that I don’t know.

I ended up explaining some of the variables in the local market that impact the value of their home. You could call it all poppycock or sales speak, but the truth is I can only make educated guesses about value changes — though I am learning how to use the tarot cards I got for Christmas.

As I worked with them I learned that they were worried. Almost all of my answers to their seemingly endless questions were various scenarios or stories about situations that I have encountered with other clients. …CONTINUED

I painted a kind of picture of what they could expect, right down to the type of financing the buyers would likely use and what the buyer’s inspector would find that might scare off those buyers.

Much of my time is spent talking with sellers, like the nervous couple who thought they couldn’t sell their home. When it was on the market for less than a month and getting a lot of traffic, I had to explain that offers are better than showings and suggest what I now call a price improvement.

They were so worried about not getting any showings that they seemed very happy just getting them.

Then there is the woman who bought three years ago and paid top dollar for her home. I broke it to her gently that it isn’t worth more than what she paid for it. I let her know how lucky she is to be in a neighborhood with some housing appreciation in the last year and that she may not lose much money.

She is determined to get top dollar and has obsessed over every detail, which makes my job easier in some ways and harder in others.

She sent me a note after her home was on the market for a day. The subject line stated, "House on the market the first 24 hours" — the e-mail expressed her concern over being on the multiple listing service for 24 hours and not having anyone set up a viewing.

She asked if she should be worried. I guess I don’t have an answer because I don’t understand the value of worrying or how it helps sell the house. The choice is hers and I can’t stop her if she wants to worry, but I decided it would be best if I did not answer her question with "it depends."

Sellers are worried even though market conditions have changed and maybe even improved in the last few months.

In some cases they are worried enough to take my advice when it comes to pricing and condition. It is good that they ask so many questions but I don’t have all the answers and I am not going to tell them what they want to hear.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.


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