Cara Ameer, a top-producing broker associate from Northeast Florida, writes about working with buyers and sellers, sticky situations and real estate marketing in her regular Inman column that publishes every other Wednesday.
When it comes to putting a home on the market, sellers love to share their insight about how the selling process should work. They want and expect to give their input to their listing agent as to how showings should be handled as well as pricing, managing other agents, offers, negotiations and what they will and will not repair.
Selling a home is an art, and not an exact science, and ultimately you never know what is going to happen until a buyer crosses the seller’s path. Keeping an open mind and not setting predetermined limits on the process leads to a more productive and positive selling experience.
Here are ten things sellers often say — but shouldn’t — to listing agents:
‘I’m not going to sell for less than x price’
This one is quite common and can often come back to bite a seller later. The reality is the market will dictate what it is willing to pay for a seller’s home, and buyers do expect to negotiate.
Sellers who dig their heels in the sand are only setting themselves up for disappointment later.
‘I won’t consider any offers that are less than x amount’
This one ranks right up there with point No. 1. Sellers should never attempt to box themselves in by saying what they will or won’t consider when they haven’t even received an offer yet.
Selling a home is a fluid process, and because there is no way of controlling what an initial offer may come in at, the sellers need to trust their agent to take the lead in determining the best way to handle once it comes in.
‘I cannot (or will not) close any sooner than a specific date (or time frame)’
Trying to time the market with finding a buyer for a seller’s home at a price, terms and a closing date that are what the seller wants can be next to impossible.
Putting more restrictions on a yet-to-be-had transaction only creates expectations that might not be able to be met. A seller might need to close on a date that is less than ideal or risk losing the buyer and potentially the prime window for selling the house altogether.
‘There’s nothing wrong with this house, and I won’t need to make any repairs’
Big sigh. If that is the alternative reality a seller chooses to believe, so be it until the home inspection. This kind of attitude will get sellers in trouble almost every time.
What’s worse is when a seller knows of potential issues such as old plumbing, an aging roof or HVAC that is near the end of its life, and they don’t view that as something that might be of concern to a buyer who will need to get it replaced.
Instead of being proactive and taking care of critical items before going on the market, they wait to see if the issue will come up, knowing that it likely will, despite not wanting to admit it.
‘I only want showings with at least 24 hours notice and only between x and y times during the weekdays, and no showings on weekends’
There is nothing like dealing your agent an impossible set of circumstances to work with and creating an inordinate amount of showing restrictions. It’s one way to ensure low to no traffic comes through the door.
If the seller’s house is the only game in town then maybe, but putting arbitrary rules on showing times has sellers working against themselves.
Going on the market is much like going to a store — are you going to do business with the one that is always open, that’s well-stocked and has items that are priced right, or will you bother with the one that never seems to be open and has a “will return at x time” sign hanging on the door?
Convenience is everything.
‘I don’t think the buyers came, it certainly doesn’t look like anyone was here’
Listing agents just love when sellers say things like that, or “I didn’t see many footprints on the carpet, so they must not have been interested — it looks like they didn’t walk through all the rooms.”
Unless you have cameras hooked up and are watching each buyer’s showing from your phone, listing agents know and share information about showing appointments with sellers.
Given the lockbox technology available today, most listing agents are notified when an agent showing the listing accesses the lockbox as proof of whether or not the buyers actually came through.
‘So, what did the buyer’s think?’
Sellers love to ask that question when the showing literally ended about 10 minutes ago. It’s certainly normal for sellers to want and expect to know how a showing went and to find out if there was interest from the buyers who came through. However, listing agents typically won’t have feedback right after a showing.
Keep in mind that the showing agent might still be with their clients, and they could have several showing appointments scheduled, likely back to back.
Buyers often formulate their decision about what property to buy based on comparing and contrasting the available options that they are looking at, so a seller might not get the insight they are looking for that fast after a showing.
‘That’s the buyer’s problem’
Instead of working with their agent to see what can be improved or addressed for future showings, the seller puts up a wall and tends to discount any feedback that is less than positive.
‘My house is perfect, there’s nothing a buyer needs to do to it’
This is what sellers often tell their agent. It’s important to remember that value is in the eye of the beholder and the way a buyer sees a seller’s home is never the same way a seller sees it.
What might appear to be in suitable condition (after living there for several years) looks like it needs updating in the eyes of a buyer (like grainy oak cabinets and bisque appliances). The “lushly landscaped” backyard consists of overgrown bushes that the buyer views as needing to be completely taken out.
Flexibility is a seller’s strength when it comes to finding a buyer.
‘I’m not lowering the price’
Sellers love to fight this battle. They feel that their home is priced exactly as it needs to be and are looking through rose-colored glasses. Despite being presented with market updates and facts and figures, they don’t view their home as being overpriced as it continues to lag on the market and lacks showings and/or offers.
The more limits that are set by a seller on all of the above only create a more difficult and cumbersome selling experience that might not lead to a successful outcome.