Sellers often have their own ideas of what the selling process looks like. When these notions surface, you’ll have to address them head on and set your sellers straight. Here are five ways to address seller concerns before they become outrageous expectations. 

It can seem impossible to truly assess your seller’s mind. This is why it’s prudent for listing agents to clarify as much as they can upfront, upon signing a listing agreement.

Nonetheless, things get forgotten or go undiscussed, and listing agents often find themselves struggling to manage a seller’s unrealistic expectations. Their breadth has no limit.

When these notions surface — and they will — you’ll have to address them head on. No matter how much your stomach may shudder at the thought of dealing with them, one thing is certain, the longer you wait the worse the tumult.

Here are five ways to address seller concerns before they become outrageous expectations.

What does ‘show-ready’ mean?

Everyone loves their own decorating style, and many assume the rest of the world does too. When trying to convince your sellers to alter their decor, say things like:

  • “to maximize the broad appeal of your home”
  • “I’d recommend a more ‘neutral color’”
  • “I think we should cut down on the clutter

Remind them that less “packed” apartments look larger. When it comes to tactfully commenting on their overall decorating style, you can delicately offer statements like, “While I know all this floral chintz cost a fortune, it may be a bit too much of a good thing.”

We need staging?

Another point of divergence between broker and seller can be whether the home is move-in ready. Although this usually means a residence is “up to code,” without structural issues and with working appliances, plumbing and electricity, today’s buyer interprets this in more aesthetic terms.

Does the apartment reflect current trends and styles? Are most people going to desire to change things before moving in? If so, it’s time to have the staging conversation with your sellers.

In all of these situations, bringing in another professional to weigh in is also a great way of convincing your seller.

How fast will we sell?

Sellers sometimes have unrealistic expectations of how quickly their home will sell. It’s often effective to address this with hard data like average days on market.

Be sure the data is current, as well as relevant to the home’s size, price and neighborhood. Showing a correlation between price, price drops and days on market can be compelling.

How much?

There is nothing more stressful than tempering expectations related to price. As many of us know, New York City is currently in a buyer’s market. Buyers are always the first to adjust to falling prices, while sellers remain blissfully ignorant.

What can you do when your seller is expecting a price far above what the market will bear? Before tackling this, assess how your seller likes to receive information. If he or she is a numbers person, your best bet may be to showcase most recent closed sales to support your pricing recommendation.

In selling co-ops, you also need to remember that closed prices are “lagging indicators,” as they may take three months or more to be published. If your seller likes visuals, the best tactic may be to take them to comparable listings with lower asks. You could also send articles supporting price reductions from respectable sources.

The best practice remains having a conversation early on about responding to market feedback. While a seller might want to start at a higher price, agree in advance that if three to four weeks pass without any offers, you will reduce. Put this in writing in a follow-up email to avoid confusion.

Another tactic is to tally the seller’s monthly carrying costs (including utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc.), being sure to account for seasonal factors like higher oil prices in winter. This will give sellers a realistic picture of the net cost of holding out for a higher price. It’s also essential to emphasize to sellers that overpricing has a “chilling effect” on buyers, making them shy away from offering bids, as they believe it to be futile.

Don’t underestimate the value of bringing in anyone who is compelling to a seller. This may mean engendering support from a family member or one of their friends. It can also be helpful to emphasize the fact that timing is crucial: the longer a property is on the market, the less appealing to buyers.

This is just the first offer, right?

Finally, if you have been fortunate enough to receive a good offer early on, warn your seller that this does not indicate a lot more are coming. We all agree that early offers are often the best. Sometimes they end up being the only offers.

Taking the “bird in the hand” can spare the seller a long and tedious showing process, which most often results in a lower price.

Keep in mind that no matter how outrageous your seller’s expectations, it is vital to find out what types of arguments will persuade them. When you do, deploy them respectfully, emphasizing that you too are invested in the most successful outcome.

Elizabeth O’Neill is a real estate agent with Warburg Realty in New York. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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