Home sellers can be their own worst enemies when they develop a case of "foot-in-mouth syndrome". It's a common ailment among all home sellers - especially FSBO's. Symptoms include the following:
Sincere (mistaken) belief that buyers share sellers' priorities and taste.
- Assumption that marketing is all about property features, when it's really about the buyer's wants and needs.
- A need to fill silence with noise by talking too much (about the wrong things).
Perhaps you saw my recent post titled My Daughter Made an Offer on a FSBO this Weekend.... Not only did this very nice woman make the mistake of trying to negotiate on her own behalf, without any negotiating skills, she suffered from "foot-in-mouth syndrome". Let me give you some real life examples of how this condition played out:
My daughter and I spent about 15-20 minutes walking around this 1950's era house located two blocks from a university campus. Based on our experience and her goals, we talked about things she might do to make this house more enjoyable for her (cosmetics), maximize the return on her dollar with updates over the course of time, and make it a more profitable rental property for the future. Topping the list of "to-do's" were add a second bath, update the existing kitchen and bathroom, and rip out the 70's style harry-homeowner built-ins. We both have some experience with real estate investment, rental properties, and college-town communities in particular.
However, Madame FSBO said that extra built-in storage was a life-saver - without it, there just wouldn't be enough (yet, without it, closet space was double that in any dorm or grad student housing); she went on to say they never replaced the windows or updated the bath and kitchen because that would over-improve the house for the neighborhood. After 8 years of professionally managing student housing, Susan knows the importance of doing this, but the seller's comments had the effect of making her feel stupid for even considering it.
Hmmmm. Why didn't this seller just keep her mouth shut? Why didn't she ask questions about what the buyer liked/disliked and then validate the buyer's feelings about the house? Instead, she just weakened her own position in negotiations because she severely diluted the buyers' excitement about the property. Her "foot-in-mouth syndrome" AND her poor negotiating skills were the reasons Susan walked away from this property which suited Susan's wants, needs, goals and budget.
Madame FSBO, I hope you learn from your mistakes - you lost a well-qualified buyer who would have been very happy with your property. Please read 25 Mistakes Home Sellers Sometimes Make - At least five of them should look familiar, because you made them.
This was a disappointing experience for Susan, but a good one for me (from a professional perspective) - it reinforced in my mind the value I provide to home sellers.
UPDATE: This experience awakened Susan's desire to buy a home, and we spent the rest of my visit to Texas looking at neighborhoods. By the time I left last night, she was safely in the hands of a buyer-broker of her choice and they were submitting an offer on another (mls-listed) property today.
Copyright 2006-13. Margaret Woda. All rights reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Information contained in this post is deemed reliable on the date of publication, but it is not guaranteed and it is subject to change without notice.
Margaret Woda, REALTOR & Associate Broker
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., 2191 Defense Hwy., Crofton, MD 21114
Direct: (410) 451-6245 or click on EMAIL
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