Is It Good Business For A REALTOR To Turn Down A Listing?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Lizette Realty - Richmond KY 205403

old houseWhy would a REALTOR turn down listing your home?

Maybe, It's Nothing Personal...Just Good Business.

A few days ago, I was asked by another REALTOR to take a look at a property out of his MLS area to see if I might be interested in listing it as a referral.

The property was actually a county outside my usual area but, if it were marketable I would be interested.

You never know till you go look and see what is around it.

There are some areas surrounding Lexington and Richmond KY that just take extra time to sell. Even in good times they just take a long time to sell.

I toured the property, but decided it would just not be the right fit for my stable of listings.


(The house picture in my post is not the subject property...just an example)

Factors influencing my decision:

  • Too far away (in another county I'm not famular with...never sold a property there).
  • The property backed up to a landfill(the tenant said the smell in the winter was pretty strong, not too many people would buy a farm next to a landfill).
  • My car would not make it up the steep gravel driveway (we drove up in a front-wheel drive truck and it had trouble getting up the hill).
  • House in dire need of repair and not freshly staged (Too many cosmetic repairs needed. A home inspector would find mountains of things to kill a deal with this one).
  • Temporary fencing for horses on 15 acres (fencing a farm is expensive for a new owner).
  • My cell phone wouldn't work there out in the country (what if I had an emergency?).

I thought it over carefully while I toured it. Since it would be a referral, if I sold it, I have to pay a referral fee to the referring REALTOR. This takes a bite out of my commission if it sells and we make it to closing.

This listing might take years to sell and eat up advertising and gas money. I decided it just might drain my budget right now. We are in a strange economic time.

Now, it's not unusual for me to turn down a listing. It's just the market we are in.

REALTORS work on a commission basis. If we can't sell your home we don't make any money. It's that simple.

To list a home takes advertising money, gas and time. Maybe some REALTORS have a different situation, but I pay for all my advertising. Going into winter, the budget gets tighter.

Gas is more expensive I might not want to list a home that will require a lot of mileage to and from.

Time...I have plenty of that, but a REALTOR's time is just as valuable as an attorneys, doctors or anyone else that gets paid by the hour for services. I make time for what is important and my clients.

You can bet if I have to spend my money to advertise in a slow market, in winter... your house should be in tip top shape and marketable.

It needs to be squeaky clean, polished, staged, freshly painted and looking like a new penny. We have tough competition!

Buyers are walking in and walking out of listings right now. Nice houses are getting showings...but no offers. Some listings are not even getting showings! It's tough for sellers and REALTORS.

I'm all for getting a house sold fast. I have lots of ideas on how to get a home ready to sell.

There are plenty of houses selling now in Central Kentucky. All it takes is a little extra effort in getting one ready to market. 


 Lizette Realty Lizette Fitzpatrick

Lizette Fitzpatrick- Principal Broker at Lizette Realty.

#1 featured Kentucky Realtor on and

Publisher/Author for the only Central Kentucky email newsletter on local real estate listings and sold properties, Kentucky relocation, local events, homeowner information and fun!

For more information on Kentucky Horse Farms, Fayette County, Richmond or Lexington KY real estate click on

Copyright © 2009 By Lizette Fitzpatrick, All Rights Reserved..*Is It Good Business For A REALTOR To Turn Down A Listing? *


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  1. SarahGray Lamm 12/28/2009 10:57 PM
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Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

I think it can be challenging to market a property out side of your normal area. And it sounded like it had too many issues to be saleable in today's market.

Dec 29, 2009 03:11 AM #39
Trisha P Realty Group
Realty Executives - Leavenworth, KS
"Holding the Keys to Your Dream Home"

You are a true professional when you can turn down a listing.

Dec 29, 2009 03:20 AM #40
Nicholas Christopher
Century 21 Rauh & Johns - Gloucester Twp, NJ
Communication Is Key

I have turned down listings in the past, simply for the fact they were drastically overpriced. I was very sincere with them and told them that if they didn't sell with someone who would take the listing then lets talk when it expires. It our name out there for the world to see. Buyers don't rememberr how fast you sold a home they remember how long it took or that you didn't sell it. 

Dec 29, 2009 03:43 AM #41
Aaron Vaughn | Builder | Investor
Conifer Homes - Fischer, TX
If the deal makes sense, the cash will follow.

This is excellent advice. Of course, it has been covered a hundred times in various blogs before, but it still is relevant information.

Dec 29, 2009 03:44 AM #42
William DeVries
Magnum Property Inspection - Picton, ON

Great post and informative for the public, one thing I noted is that you feel it would be the home inspector that will kill the deal for you, would'nt as you put it;

  • The property backed up to a landfill(the tenant said the smell in the winter was pretty strong, not too many people would buy a farm next to a landfill).
  • My car would not make it up the steep gravel driveway (we drove up in a front-wheel drive truck and it had trouble getting up the hill).
  • House in dire need of repair and not freshly staged (Too many cosmetic repairs needed. A home inspector would find mountains of things to kill a deal with this one).

Have any influence on the deal not going through, as a realtor would these items not be brought to the attention of a potential purchaser? One could see with basically three strikes against the property and no home inspector in sight yet,  the deal may be killed on its merits or lack of, this could be the house commiting suicide.


Dec 29, 2009 05:13 AM #43
Rob D. Shepherd
Windermere/lane county - Florence, OR
Principal Broker GRI, SRES

I also would have passed on it. I'm in the selling business, not the listing business. If I'm not comfortable with it or feel I couldn't properly service it I would pass.

Dec 29, 2009 05:19 AM #44
Sajy Mathew
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Lancaster, PA
Making your real estate dreams become a reality!

If it is not making you dollars it is not making sense!  Sometimes you have to let them ride and you will be better for it in the long run.

Dec 29, 2009 05:49 AM #45
Jeff D. Clark
Blue Summit Realty Group - La Grande, OR
Your Eastern Oregon Real Estate Specialist

You certainly want to pick and choose qho you work with!  headaches are no fun!

Dec 29, 2009 06:18 AM #46
Bristol Restoration
Bristol Restoration, Inc 661-294-1812 - Santa Clarita, CA
When you need it done right and done right now!

At least you assessed the situation by going to house and looking at the scope of what you would be dealing with.  Some agents would have taken the listing and just thrown a sign up.

Dec 29, 2009 06:40 AM #47
Bob and Debbie Gibbs
J. Rockcliff Realtors - Danville, CA

I would only take a listing like the one in your article if it had a ridiculously low price so that it would sell quickly.

Dec 29, 2009 07:28 AM #48
Jim Ludes
RE/MAX Top Properties - Coal City, IL
Grundy/Will County, IL REALTOR

Nothing at all wrong with passing on a listing. I think ALL good REALTORS have done it for one reason or another.

Dec 29, 2009 08:00 AM #49
Evelyn Bruder
Steinborn & Associates Real Estate - Las Cruces, NM

Great post, Lizette. Like everyone else, I hate to turn down a listing in our current market but sometimes you just have to say no. All the reasons you listed were reasons why I have turned a few down in the past. That just leaves more time for you to focus on your other listings that you're more comfortable selling.

Dec 29, 2009 08:16 AM #50
Steve Loynd
Alpine Lakes Real Estate Inc., - Lincoln, NH
800-926-5653, White Mountains NH

Lizette, It's good business to so no to some business, or said another way you have to know when to hold them and you have to know when to hold-em. The money , time and energy wasted would be better spent elsewhere.

Dec 29, 2009 08:53 AM #51
Chris Walters
Edisto Realty Edisto Beach,SC - Edisto Beach, SC

Lizette, You have to know when to say no.  Taking a bad listing is just a big step toward disappointment.  I do agree that it is an advertising opportunity but to the neighbors it is advertising that you cannot sell a property when the DOMs rack up.

Dec 29, 2009 10:29 AM #52
John Elwell
CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc. - Zephyrhills, FL
You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results

There are a lot of good reasons for taking a listing, but I think that overall there are more reasons for not taking a bad one. You have mentioned many of them. But day-after-day I see agents take over priced listings, listings in areas they know nothing about, listings that are beyond their experience or range of knowledge (if you are experienced selling homes, what makes you think you can sell a large shopping center), if you live in Key West why are are you taking a listing in Pensicola over 9 hours away? This is what gives us a bad name since in many of these cases, there is no way that the listing agent can do a good or even somewhat adequate job. Especially in a market like we are in. I have done very few VA loans on mobile homes. They can be done, but they are a different creature. My license says I CAN DO THEM, but I made the choice to do a referral to an agent that did them all the time. No liability on my part, he made a nice commission, and I got a few hundred bucks for just making a phone call!

I have little respect for agents that take listings they have no business accepting. And in their hearts, they should know better. If they do not have that much common sense or high moral fiber, that is an even scarier scenario in my book. Yet I hear many hypocritically say "Oh, those people are crazy", then the next morning you see that they took the listing any way with the excuse that maybe they will get call they can redirect to another of their properties. To me that stinks and will backfire on them in the longrun. I know an agent with 20 listings on the wall and they NEVER change. I wonder why? I have very few on my wall because I PRICE THEM CORRECTLY AND SELL THEM LONG BEFORE THEY GET STALE. Turnover is more important than the number of homes you have in your inventory. Turnover means sales and money in your pocket and the pocket of your sellers.

Dec 29, 2009 10:31 AM #53
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


I have turned down an inspection or two because a client made me uneasy over the phone, by Email. Taking a look at your representative photo, lots of things would have to go right for that to work out for you.

Dec 30, 2009 08:57 AM #54
Leslie Helm
Tennessee Recreational Properties - Jamestown, TN
Real Estate For Trail Riders

Hi, Lizette. I try to take only listings that are in my geographic area, that are mainly horse properties and that have a good probability of success. It is a disservice both to myself and to my existing clients to allow myself to get spread too thin, just for the sake of having more listings.

Those interested in horse properties gravitate to my website,, so I cull non horse properties simply because they would not be of interest to riders and horse owners. That creates a niche and I've learned not to get too far outside of it....literally!

Jan 02, 2010 08:20 AM #55
Robert C. Burkhart
Carriage Gate, Ltd. - Lexington, KY

Lizette, You made a sound business decision. This listing would have been misery to sell. If the seller is not able or willing to make a property ready to market or refuses to competitviely price a property walk away. By the time it does sell there is so much angst and frustration it really is not worth the drama. Anyway good luck and good hunting this year.


Jan 04, 2010 08:26 AM #56
Herb Johnson
Access Capital - Florence, KY

Just makes good business sense to discern on whether you want to invest time and money into a listing.

Jul 19, 2010 01:04 AM #57
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

It would depend on the price for me. If the sellers are really motivated to sell it, there are plenty of investors who could work it out.

Feb 18, 2015 04:16 PM #58
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