Most homeowners don't realize that when they interview a real estate agent to list their house for sale, the agent is also interviewing them too. As Realtors, we don't always take every listing that comes our way. Well, okay ...maybe some of the most desperate of agents do. Not me. The truth is, we CAN be selective about who we do business with. While I don't normally turn down business, there are a few reasons why I have. The obvious would be because I felt the homeowner might not abide by fair housing laws. Another reason I might turn down business is if I felt there was something unethical and/or unlawful. The last reason would be the homeowner. Yes, that's right. Homeowners can scare me when the chemistry is not right.
Every man thinks his home is a castle and it's worth more than it really is. My job as a Realtor is to dish up reality. This is not always easy, nor is what I have to say always well received.
I have had to decline taking a listing when a seller appears to be unrealistic about price. Oh, and sometimes there is an obvious disconnect. This doesn't happen often, as I am an easy going person who can usually adapt to all personality types. But, there's not a person on earth who doesn't occasionally feel the wrong chemistry about someone or something.
It's usually never about the property. I will list just about any type of property IF it is priced right and I feel the right chemistry with the seller. It doesn't have to be a showplace home, but it does have to be priced according to the overall condition and appeal. True, there is a buyer for every home, but every home will eventually sell ONLY when priced right. A house needs to be priced to compete with other listings and within a reasonable variance of comparable sales. And, a little staging often helps too.
Pricing is the easy part. The data is available through my local MLS datebase. Delivering the news regarding home values ...NOT SO EASY. This is when I usually find out if the seller has reasonable expectations, is in denial, or is simply difficult to work with. Remember, chemistry is part of it too.
Here is a sampling of a recent conversation I had with a homeowner:
Oh, well that competing property is a short sale.....
In an effort to get your house sold, I cannot dismiss this listing, nor will a buyer's agent or a bank appraiser. Sorry.
But, my house was built by (___________fill in the blank) builder.
I didn't have the heart to tell the proud homeowner that a google search of this national home builder reveals a list of complaints and that some local agents and home inspectors are not saying too many kind things about this builder. Local custom builders actually have a better reputation for quality.
That house down the street sits on a corner lot and has no back yard....
Yeah, but it's 700 square feet BIGGER than yours. Can you see the trade off?
There was a sale last year at $698,000, I want to list mine in the 700s.....
That was last year. Home values have fallen 15% since then, and that also happens to be the house which is 700 square feet MORE than yours. PLUS, you need to be below price point.
Regardless of what you're saying, I still think my house should be listed in the 700s....
The highest sale in your neighborhood EVER was the house that sold at 698K - before prices fell 15% in the past year. Houses in your neighborhood have NEVER sold in the 700s - even in a GOOD market, so what makes you think they will NOW? Sorry, your neighborhood just does not yet command this price - yet.
My house is decorated better than the other homes.
I didn't get around to telling the seller that we might need somebody to tweak things ...like a professional stager. There was no sense doing so once I felt strongly that I probably would not list this house. Why go there?
Oh, you don't have to tell us all this, my husband is in the real estate business (he confirms that he has been a mortgage broker for the past 20 years).....
I didn't say what I was thinking at this point because it's become clear that I know nothing and they know everything there is to know about MY job. But, I was silently thinking ..."I don't pretend to know the mortgage business, please don't pretend to know how to price, market and sell houses".
So, I didn't want the listing. I parted ways on friendly terms that day, after agreeing that they should think things over and CALL ME if they were interested in listing their home as I had suggested. I didn't hold my breath waiting for them to call either, nor did I follow up with a phone call encouraging them to list with ME. I simply watched the MLS database for a few days and eventually found their property show up listed by another agent at a different firm - for $53,000 more than I had suggested. Good luck to them! I won't lie to get a listing. I won't waste my time, energy and money advertising a property that is overpriced. And, I won't work with a seller who won't listen to reason.