I Can't Sell Your House Because You're Not Ready to Price It Right
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a seller who received an expired letter from me. He tried selling his home on his own and then used the assistance of an agent. Two different agents to be exact. This is a fabulous listing; one that most agents would kill to have. It is in excess of a million dollars.
Prior to marketing to this seller, I had done my homework. I knew exactly why his home wasn't selling. A combination of price and home staging. (Although, even the worst looking house will sell for the right price.) So when I got the call, I already knew what his problem was.
I have learned from experience to pre-qualify my sellers. There's no reason to meet for a listing appointment if the sellers isn't ready to heed my advice. I initially ask the sellers a few questions upfront about why they want to sell and where they plan to go.
However, in this particular case I already knew the seller. He is the father of a friend. We talked a little bit about the family and how everyone was doing. We talked about his plans for moving and where he was going. It was easy to transition from there into his reason for calling.
His previous agents had many years of experience but couldn't get his home sold. He was frustrated with the whole process and thought maybe I could take him in a new direction.
I asked what his feedback had been from showings. He said, he hadn't really had much in the way of showings and blamed that on poor marketing by the previous agents. I explained that the competition for homes over a million dollars is pretty fierce right now. The home has to be staged to perfection and priced competitively.
The first hurdle--staging. His wife views herself as somewhat of an interior designer so he felt that part was going to be a slam-dunk. Unfortunately, as it often is with sellers who have lots of money, they had collected lots of stuff over the years. Too much stuff. It was clear it would be too big of a job to do without the assistance of a professional home stager. When I asked if he would be open to that, he was a little surprised. But he needs to get the home sold and would consider that recommendation.
The second hurdle--price. With an excess of million dollar homes lingering on the market, pricing was going to be essential to getting his home sold. I told him after carefully analyzing the competition, he would need to reduce his price if he had hopes of selling his house.
This was not something he was open to. He was adamant that the home was priced properly. I explained that the house had been on the market for over a year with very few showings, suggesting that the house was not priced correctly.
"How much of a price reduction are we talking about here?" The next words were difficult for him to hear, "At least, $400,000." He said he liked much of what I had to say and thought the way I was going to market the home could possibly get it sold but he wanted to stay firm on his price.
He then asked, "When can you come out to sign the paperwork?" I almost couldn't believe the next words out of my mouth, "I'm sorry, Mr. Seller, but I won't be listing your home."
"What?" his response.
"In all fairness to you, I can't take a listing on a home I don't believe will sell. If you insist on pricing it that high, I can't help you. No amount of marketing in the world will help sell an over-priced listing. I know this from past experience. Buyers will only pay what they believe your home is worth and the comparable sales suggest that you are priced too high."
He once again stated he would still like me to sell his house but it would have to be listed at his price. I thanked him for the opportunity and said that I would have to respectfully decline. I did wish him well and said if he would like to discuss this again in the future to please give me a call.
Several days later, I saw that he had listed it with another agent. There was a minuscule price reduction but certainly not what's necessary to get the home sold.
While this would have been a fabulous listing, the comparable sales are telling me it's not priced to sell. I want to sell the homes I list, the only way I can do that is if the sellers are willing to price their homes appropriately. When sellers are willing to do that, I can help them.
I'm sorry, Mr. Seller, I can't sell your house because you're not ready to price it right.
Update May 2016: Since August 2011, this home has been listed nine times with a beginning price of $1,790,000. It is now listed at $1,360,000. The price I suggested back in March 2012. Unfortunately, no staging was ever completed on this home. I suspect there will be several more price reductions before it sells.