Real estate agents handle countless objections from clients in their daily course of business. But some professionals have turned this into a science.
Drawing from suggestions of agents and speakers at conferences such as Inman Connect Las Vegas 2019, we’ve compiled a list of some of the savviest responses to common objections from noncommittal or less-than-cooperative buyers and sellers.
1. You want to list my home for $X? That’s ridiculous. My neighbor’s home sold for $X, and mine should go for at least $50,000 more.
What to say: Here’s the thing, we all want to make more money, but it doesn’t do me any good to overprice your home. And buyers are going to respond better to a house that’s competitive, Sarah Padgett, a Realtor at Century 21 Judge Fite Company in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, suggested at Inman Connect Las Vegas.
“Say there are four loaves of bread on a shelf. If they’re all priced the same, but yours is priced at $X higher which one do you think the buyers are going to pick first? And the longer you sit on the shelf, the less money you’re going to get.
“So let’s start out of the gate with the best price, and if you don’t like an offer, you don’t have to take it.”
2. My friend got a great deal on a foreclosure, so I really only want to look at foreclosures.
What to say: “If I found you a property that was a great deal, but it was not a foreclosure, would you want to look at it?” said Bill Lublin, CEO of Philadelphia brokerage Century 21 Advantage Gold at ICLV.
Los Angeles-based agent at C21 Realty Master, Xio Sandoval shared a slightly different approach at Connect. She suggests first searching the MLS with the buyer to show how many foreclosure listings are available
Because they are not many in today’s market, the buyer will realize that restricting options to foreclosures would be very limiting.
Then tell buyers, “They’re likely going to require cash offers only. Do you have the cash available?”
3. Why do I have to offer more (for a home)?
What to say: “You’re really not going to get a deal in a seller’s market. The good deal is the interest rate [currently around 3.5 percent],” Padgett said.
4. I need to talk to [multiple friends and relatives] before I make a decision.
What to say: “Fine, let’s get them all on a call right now. Get them looped in,” Ed Feijo, an agent at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New England said at ICLV.
5. I like the house, but it has the ugliest carpet I’ve ever seen.
Lublin champions teaching the buyer the “Ben Franklin” approach. That means drawing a line down the middle of a piece of paper, and adding the pros to one side and the cons to the other.
What to say: “The only thing I’ll ask is that you not make a con anything that you can change,” such as the color of a bedroom the buyer doesn’t like.
Padgett suggests saying, “You’re going to wear this out pretty quick — it’s carpet.” This is especially true, she said, if the buyer has pets or children.
She recommends telling buyers, “You don’t have to live with it forever — just start saving money, and we can replace it down the road.”
When addressing a complaint about the aesthetics of a home, also remind the buyer of some of its positive aspects, Padgett advises. Those might include the home’s “mechanical components,” such its roof and air conditioning.
6. I just want to work with the listing agent.
What to say: “My job is to get you a lower price. A listing agent’s job is to get the sellers a higher price. Who do you want working for you?” Lublin suggests.
“If you were going into trial or court, would you want an attorney representing both sides? Let me represent you. Let me go to work for you for free,” Padgett said.
“Do you want to work for somebody else that’s not representing you, to work with someone who’s working for the other side of the transaction?” Feijo said.
7. I don’t want to sign a buyer representation/agency agreement. What if I’m driving around, and I see an open house I like, and you’re not available?
What to say: It’s fine to look for a home without me.
Then give them a stack of business cards, suggests Padgett, and tell the buyers that they can show one of those cards at the open house, and the listing agent will treat them with more seriousness.
Let them know they can call you any time, that you’re there to help your buyers, Padgett added.
8. But I don’t want to tie myself up with you by signing a buyer agency agreement. Six months is a long time.
What to do: Offer a smaller contract period, such as three months, Padgett suggests. Or even offer to “go a day at a time,” in which the buyer would sign a new agency agreement every day (ideally ultimately deciding to sign one for a longer duration).
Watch the full conversation covering the objection busters above onstage at Inman Connect Las Vegas below.
9. We’re not ready to list yet because we’d like to find a new home first.
What to say: “Let’s figure out what you need. Do you need to sell your current house to purchase a new home?” said Anne M. Rubin, a broker at Philadelphia-based Century 21 Advantage Gold at Century 21’s 2017 One21 conference.
“If I help you find your dream home before you’ve sold your current house, that offer would be contingent on the sale of your current property. Most sellers don’t want to deal with a contingency, and even if the sellers accept your contingency offer, you’ll have to pay more. Do you see why that’s a weaker negotiating position?
“Also, if you’ve signed a contract to buy a home and then you put your house up for sale, you’re more likely to take less money for your current house because you’ll want to get it sold in a hurry. Do you see how buying before selling could lead you to losing on both ends of the transaction?”
10. We’re interviewing other salespeople, and we’d like to think over the decision of listing with you.
What to say: “I’ll call in a day or two to see if you have additional questions. Is there something in my presentation you’d like me to cover in more detail right now?
“I understand this is a big decision — but I know you’re looking to sell quickly. If you sign a listing agreement tonight, I’ll have the time to do an open house this weekend.
“Here’s a thought: We can do the paperwork now, and I’ll postdate it. If you don’t want to work with me, I’ll rip it up. And if you do, we’ll be ready to go.
“I can appreciate that you want to compare real estate agents. Let’s set up a follow-up appointment so I can answer any concerns or questions you may have after you meet with the other agents.”
11. Another agent said they could get us more money.
In this scenario, said Rubin, “you need to have run the stats. It’s not about what you say or what the other agent says; it’s about the market.”
What to say: “Here’s exactly what’s happening in the market. We have X houses on the market right now, and we have X selling per month. That means we have X months of supply for buyers to choose from. You told me you wanted to sell your house in X months — correct?
“With X properties coming on the market every month, not to mention the number of foreclosures and short sales, wouldn’t you agree that accurately pricing the property is important today?
“Your home does have many upgrades; and many of the houses I showed you have similar upgrades. That demonstrates what buyers are willing to pay. Do you have any reason to believe that buyers are offering more than the recent closed sales?
“The MLS data is all the same — but some agents will tell you what they think you want to hear just so they can get the listing because they’re desperate to land your business. What kind of agent do you want to work with?”
12. Even though we like you, you’re the first agent we’ve talked to. We should probably interview others.
What to say: “I understand — your house is probably your most valuable asset, and you want to make the best decision. I do have a favor to ask, though: I really believe I can do the best job for you, and I’d like a chance to see if there’s anything else I can do for you before you make a final decision. Would you be willing to meet me again tomorrow after you’ve talked to the other agents?
“What would you like to see in the marketing plan or in the representation of your agent and their company that I didn’t discuss with you?
“What would make it possible for you to make a decision tonight?
“Is there anything you believe another company or agent could do for you that I haven’t offered to do?”
13. Zillow told us our house is worth more than you’re saying.
What to say: “Are you familiar with how Zestimates work?
“Zestimates take the deed recordings in a geographic area to determine the number. That includes refinances and deed transfers from family members, and they don’t include the condition of the home or any upgrades. They can often be too high or too low.
“I will supply you with accurate information from the MLS, which includes interior photos, of the properties that are most likely to be seen by buyers when they are also looking at your house. In addition, I can show you the recent sales in the area that appraisers will look at when they’re determining the value of your house from the buyer’s mortgage company.
“Don’t you want the best information available when you decide how to price your house and when to place it on the market?”
14. We only want to give you a 60-day listing.
What to say: “I’m sorry, but our company policy is X months.
“What concerns you that you are only willing to sign a shorter-than-normal listing contract? Let me review our seller service pledge*, which actually turns the contract into a 10-day contract. Does that make you feel better?”
* The seller service pledge Rubin referenced is specific to Century 21.
15. Let’s list high. We can always come down later.
What to say: “I understand you want to leave room to negotiate, but have you considered the problems this could create?
“Most people won’t even bother looking at properties out of their price range. You’ll have fewer showings and receive fewer offers — and they will be lowball offers.
“The best opportunity to sell your house for the highest and best price is in the first two weeks that it’s on the market. If you price the house according to what you expect to sell it for, from the beginning you will have more showings and could end up with multiple offers.
“In a multiple-offer situation, you will have the opportunity to have buyers bid up to the best possible price. Don’t you want to maximize your selling price?”
16. I have a friend in the business.
What to say: “I hope all my friends are as loyal as you are! But let me ask you a question: Are you serious about selling your house, or just helping your friend get a listing?
“If this is your most expensive asset, don’t you want to choose the best agent and not the agent you’re friends with?
“It’s important to be loyal to your friends, but because your home is probably your most valuable asset, you owe it to yourself to choose the professional who can best market the house and best represent you to get you the highest and best price and terms for your house. Wouldn’t you agree?
“Plus — if you have a problem with your friend’s performance or services, how will you be able to criticize or fire your friend? Who would you rather yell at — me or your friend?
“And then there’s the fact that you might need to reveal more about yourself to your friend than makes you feel comfortable. When you start to negotiate and prepare for the settlement, you’ll be discussing your finances, life, your bottom line and opening up some warts and blemishes in the process. Are you sure you really want to expose that much to your friend?”
17. You haven’t sold any houses in our area.
This is a good opportunity for new agents to shine, suggested Rubin. Talk about your company. Even a brand new agent probably knows more about buying and selling real estate than the average consumer.
What to say: “That’s a valid concern. The reason to choose me is not just for my knowledge and expertise, but for my company.
“My company has listed and sold many houses in this community. When you sign the marketing agreement with me, you’re signing up with my entire team. You’ll immediately have your property exposed to potential buyers from all over the area — and exposure to potential buyers is the most important thing about selling your home. Wouldn’t you agree?”
18. What do you do to sell homes?
What to say: “I have a written marketing plan in writing. Can you show me the other agent’s written marketing plan so that I can compare what we will do to what they have promised to do?
“There are passive agents and active agents. I am an active agent — which means that when you hire me, I will spend my time actively marketing your home to the public, to the agents active in your area and on the internet, where 96 percent of all real estate transactions start.”
19. We will list with you if you reduce your commission.
What to say: “Let me explain a little bit about how the commission works. Think of the total commission as a pie.
“The pie gets cut in half immediately. Half of the pie is offered to the buyer’s agent’s office while the other half stays with the listing agent’s office. Then those halves get cut again and are shared between the office and the agent.
“The difference in my pocket between 1 percent and 2 percent is very little, so I would have no problem reducing the fee, personally. However: The difference in your pocket can be huge because most agents are motivated by dollars, and with X houses on the market, buyer’s agents are going to show their buyers the houses that offer the greatest commission.
“So if we offer a discounted commission to the other agents, what that means for you is fewer showings and less qualified buyers. That can result in a lower sale price or other issues during the transaction. Do you really think that is worth the perceived savings?”
20. We are not ready. We want to fix the house up first.
What to say: “I think that’s a great idea! Let me come by and walk through the house with you to discuss the items that will be important to consider doing in preparation for selling. I wouldn’t want you to spend money unnecessarily. Would today or tomorrow be best for me to come by?
“That’s a good idea — we want your house to be 100-percent ready to show when it goes on the market so we can maximize its impact. Let’s get the paperwork signed now, and then we can pick a target date for putting it actively on the market. How much time do you think it will take to complete the items we discussed?”
21. I want to wait to buy until mortgage interest rates drop.
What to say: “What is your primary motivation for considering buying a home? How long do you plan on living in the home?
“Real estate truly is a long-term investment with tremendous tax benefits; your home is also the place where you will live life and build memories. We have no way of knowing when or even if interest rates will drop. They are still at one of the lowest points in our history. But the longer you wait, the greater the chances are that rates could go up.
“If we can find the home that meets your personal needs and we can negotiate the best value, why wouldn’t you consider buying now?”
22. I need to talk with my significant other first.
This objection is entirely avoidable, noted Rubin. “Make sure you’re meeting with everybody who needs to be part of the decision making,” she advised.
What to say: “I can understand that; this is an important decision. Would later today or tomorrow be best for me to meet with both of you and answer any questions and review our plan?
“When will you be speaking to your significant other? Let’s set up a time to meet afterward so I can address any questions and concerns.”
23. I don’t like using a Realtor.
There is likely a history here, warns Rubin. “You can’t answer this objection until you understand what the objection really is.”
What to say: “Can you share with me why you aren’t interested in using the services of a real estate professional? What have your past experiences been with real estate agents?
“I understand how you feel — because if I were not in the business and wanted to sell my house, I probably would do the same thing you are doing. However, statistics show that 84 percent of sellers who start out marketing their house on their own end up using an agent when they recognize the benefits of listing with an agent. Would today or tomorrow be best for me to stop by and review those benefits with you?”
24. You are asking questions I don’t feel comfortable answering.
This one likely comes from buyers who haven’t yet been qualified, notes Rubin.
What to say: “I apologize if anything I said made you feel uncomfortable; my intent is to gather information so I can help and guide you through the process and find the right home for your needs. Can you share with me which question made you feel that way and why?
“You probably didn’t intend to answer any questions when you called to learn more about the property — I understand that. Our sellers are assured, though, that we will not just walk anybody through their house, but that we will do our best to confirm who the prospective buyer is and that they have the financial ability to purchase the house.”
25. No other agents have asked me to sign a buyer’s contract.
What to say: “I’ve heard before that agents are willing to allow buyers to believe they are being represented when there is resistance to signing a representation agreement. In our area, though, if there is nothing in writing, an agent is not legally representing you. *Do you want to work with an agent who’s willing to ignore the law?
“In this market, it’s imperative that you work with the most professional and knowledgeable real estate agent available. I’m one of them. I apologize that others in my profession have not educated you about the law. Don’t you want an agent who’s knowledgeable about the real estate contracts and laws in our area?”
*Check your local laws — any information should be 100-percent accurate if you are sharing it with a client.
26. I want to look at houses, but I don’t want to commit to a specific agent.
What to say: “What’s your concern with making a commitment to a specific agent?
“I can understand that you might be uncomfortable making a commitment to someone you don’t know. Why don’t we make the representation agreement for a short time frame so you have the opportunity to see how we work together?
“Let’s just make the representation agreements specific only to the properties that I show you and give you time to feel comfortable with being represented by me. Will that work?”
27. I am just gathering information for a friend.
Don’t give any information to someone with this objection, suggests Rubin.
What to say: “Your friend is so lucky to have someone willing to do the legwork! Are you going to be involved in the buying decision or participate in the purchase with your friend?
“If not — often the house you call about might not fit your friend’s needs. Can you see why getting some information directly would be advantageous? And your friend’s name is … ?
“I have a list of questions that need answering — once I have the information, I will be able to send you a whole list of properties that might work. Would you like to get me the information from your friend, or would it be best to contact your friend directly?”