Most homeowners love their home, and they think it should sell quickly at the highest price ever seen in their neighborhood. They hear outlandish tales about how much so-and-so got for their piece of trash in the next block – in a different market, even assuming the tale has any relationship to reality – and figure they will get at least $XX thousand more. Not many have any understanding of the market, let alone the competition. When they go looking for an agent, they want the agent that will promise the highest sales price. D’oh.
How does the home seller know if that price is realistic? They don’t. I get paid on commission and I’d like to sell your home for big bucks, too. But buyers make offers on the home that is the best value for them. Marketing is intended to attract the buyers whose needs and desires that home meets, at a better value than any of the competition. Sure, we’ll try to seduce the buyer into liking the property so much that they will pay a little more. But if the agent is selling a price to the seller, how can they also sell it to the buyer? Not gonna happen.
But to the owner with $ in their eyes, the “con agent” can promise whatever sales price he thinks will get the owner to sign that listing contract. It’s so easy – much easier than having the tough discussion about pricing realistically, or what has to be done to help the home look its best. It’s all about getting the listing contract. When they’ve got the contract, and the seller is locked in for 90 days or more, then they will start working on the seller to lower the asking price.
No harm in trying the higher price, right? Wrong. In fact, terrible. The buyers who are looking in the range where that home should be priced won’t see it. The buyers looking at competing properties will see those properties as better values. Within thirty days, all the buyers who could have been there have moved on, and new buyers coming onto the market see that it’s been for sale for over a month, and suspect there’s something wrong with it. And the agent who “bought” the listing by promising the moon is telling the seller about how tough the competition is, and insisting he must now lower the price . . . to less than he should have gotten if it had been priced right to begin with.
These homes eventually sell, at the lower price, so the con agent looks like a big wheel. He’s got plenty of listings for sale all over town. On paper, he’s doing a lot of business, and so he’s deemed successful – just the “top producer” many homeowners think they want. Yikes.
When you are discussing selling your home with a good agent, the pricing part of the conversation is supposed to be gritty. You want the highest possible price for your home, but you need to price it competitively with other homes. If a prospective listing agent does not show you the competition and recent sales, and suggest a price in line with that market, the agent isn’t doing his job. Is he ignorant of the market, or is he trying to buy your listing contract with a price he can’t deliver? Either way, you’re talking to the wrong agent.
Furthermore, unless you’re Martha Stewart, the discussion about what needs to be done to make your home ready to sell can also be somewhat painful. It’s to your advantage to make your home appealing to buyers, but if the agent doesn’t tell you how to clean it up and get rid of the clutter and make certain it stays presentable, he’s avoiding possibly unpalatable truths. Just like when he avoids the pricing facts, this is not a good sign.
Don’t confuse complaisance with competence. Keep searching until you find an agent who tells you the facts, even if you find them unpleasant.