When was the last time you critiqued your listing presentation? Regular Inman columnist Bernice Ross details an experience her colleague had hiring an agent and what the winning agent did right.

With more than 1,000 Inman posts, Bernice Ross is a long-time contributor whose weekly column on real estate trends, luxury, marketing and other best practices publishes every Monday.

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The general manager of my company recently lost her father-in-law, and her family is preparing to sell his home. If you have ever wondered why consumers don’t get your value or challenge you on the commissions you receive, their experience illustrates why this is the case.  

Because my GM has worked for me for 19 years and has read virtually everything I’ve ever written, she felt well-prepared to embark on the listing process.

She interviewed three different agents, each of whom was a personal referral. She prepared a list of questions to ask each agent that included how they arrived at their pricing, what their unique selling proposition was, as well as their recommendations for staging the property.

What she and her husband (the sellers) were unprepared for were the lies, incompetence and the lack of follow-up that they encountered.

A tale of 3 agents

Below is a detailed explanation of the interactions the selling couple had with three very different agents and what the winning agent did right.

1. The ‘award-winning team’

The mother-daughter team they interviewed first had sold the house down the street and were recommended by one of the seller’s cousins. The agents arrived with notepad in-hand and were nicely dressed. Their comments, however, were so over the top that the sellers felt like “They were about to list the Taj Mahal — not a $250,000 property.”

In response to the sellers’ questions, here’s what they said:   

  • The agents had no recommendations for staging.
  • When asked how the agents would market the property: “We don’t do print marketing. We only do the internet. We will put your listing on the MLS, Zillow, and Trulia.”
  • They walked the 5-acre property and suggested a list price of $239,000, but failed to provide any comparable sales. They also didn’t bring any listing, agency or disclosure paperwork with them.
  • In terms of the commission they claimed: “The normal commission is 7 percent, but we’ll do you a favor and lower it to 6 percent.”
  • When my GM explained that she worked for a national speaker, trainer and Inman columnist without mentioning my name, one of them said: “Oh, I remember her. She spoke at our recent convention in Las Vegas.” When she asked if the agents had heard about the Awesome Females in Real Estate Leadership Conference, the other agent chimed in, “I picked up a flyer about that conference at the convention.” The last time I spoke in Vegas was 10 years ago.
  • When the sellers pressed the agents for more information about their marketing materials, they emailed them a 12-page stock marketing piece from their company stating that they advertise in the Homeseller Magazine and the Real Estate Book. This is after the agents specifically told the sellers that they don’t do print advertising.
  • On the plus side, the agents did pay for enhanced listings on the portals, they had three testimonials from past clients on their marketing brochure, plus a page that stated the benefits of using a team.

Eight days after their initial appointment, however, they still hadn’t followed up.

2. The local area expert

The second agent was recommended by a friend who grew up in the area. She had two comparable sales and explained that nothing had sold in the past six months.

When the sellers asked about the house across the street that sold six weeks earlier, she responded with: “I don’t know why I didn’t see it.”

The agent was very nice. She explained her marketing budget, that posting on the MLS, Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com was free and that she paid for enhanced listings on all of these sites. She also brought examples of her advertising from the local newspaper and a local real estate magazine.

On the negative side, she didn’t walk the property, she didn’t explain the two comparable sales she had supplied, and she had no recommendations on how to stage the house.

The kicker was that she wanted to price the property at $188,000 and have the sellers pay the buyers’ closing costs, even though the property is located in a highly desirable area and this location is currently in a seller’s market.

Five days after her initial meeting, the sellers still hadn’t heard back from her.

3. The agent who got the listing

The third agent was recommended by the sellers’ financial planner. She arrived on time with a full packet of information. After walking the entire property and viewing the interior of the home, she did a detailed explanation of each of the eight comparable sales and how they differed from the sellers’ property in terms of the price-per-square-foot, age, amenities and other features.

In terms of marketing, the agent advertises her listings locally in print as well as on the web through the MLS and the portals using professional photos.

When the sellers inquired about staging, the agent suggested power washing the house so it would look bright white (rather than the current greenish tinge) and trimming the hedges to let in more light inside.

She also pointed out that the empty mantle looked bare, that different color towels would be needed in the master bath, plus a several other items. She then recommended: “Don’t buy anything yet. I have quite a few staging items you can use. See what you like, and then if you want to add anything else, buy it then.”

The agent returned later with several large bags of staging items, and they jointly staged the house.  

After the staging discussion, the agent discussed where to price the property, how much the sellers would pay in fees, plus the other costs of sale.

The agent also suggested listing at a price that would give the sellers some negotiation room but also warned the sellers to be prepared for ridiculously low offers. While the agent is legally required to present low offers, she urged them not to become upset with this buyer tactic.   

The agent then explained each part of the contract in detail, answered all the sellers’ questions and addressed how to handle the disclosure statements (because the property was inherited, and they hadn’t lived there). The sellers felt no sense of being rushed or pressured.

The sellers ultimately listed with this agent at a six percent commission for $250,000 (not $249,000 because of how mobile search works. So, listings should instead be priced between $200,000-$250,000 or $250,000-$300,000.)

What did you do on your last listing appointment?

On your last listing appointment, were you adequately prepared with detailed comparable sales? Did you take the time to construct a marketing plan? Were you prepared to assist in the staging of the property? Did you take the time to explain your comparative market analysis (CMA) and the contracts a in detail? Did you follow up after the appointment?

If you didn’t get the listing, did you make any of the mistakes above or fail to use the best practices from the winning agent? If so, don’t make the same mistake on your next listing appointment.

If you’re looking to raise your listing appointment game, check out these articles:

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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