How to "Just Say No" to Your Seller without Sounding Lazy, Cheap or Disrespectful

Education & Training with Sell with Soul


God Bless 'em, sellers just want to help. They have lots of opinions on how their homes should be marketed, advertised and promoted to agents and buyers, and they LUV sharing those opinions with us. And of course, they expect us to agree with their opinions and implement their ideas immediately!

And sometimes they're right. Hey, our sellers are intelligent human beings, and at times, they have great ideas we'd never thought of.

But sometimes, um, they don't. No disrespect to homesellers around the world, but we DO (or should) know more about selling houses than they do. We DO (or should) know what works and what doesn't work.

Now, truth be told, there are things we do simply because they make our sellers happy and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, there's a lot right about it. And many of these things we do primarily promote ourselves more so than the property, and again, that's just fine. Open houses, color brochures, single-domain websites, Craigslist postings and virtual tours might fall under one or both of these categories.

But what about ineffective marketing that is expensive or time-consuming? How can you tell your seller "no" without sounding cheap, lazy or disrespectful?

Before I answer that burning question, here are some examples* of marketing I "refuse" to do:

  • Enhanced listings
  • Broker open houses
  • Magazine advertising
  • Newspaper advertising
  • Talking House sign riders
  • Flyer distribution to neighborhood
  • Flyer distribution to real estate offices
  • .... feel free to add your own

*If, in your market, any of these marketing approaches actually work, please do them - don't accept what I say as gospel. In some markets, broker opens are effective. In resort markets, magazine advertising might be worthwhile. Know your market and adjust my advice accordingly.

So, how do I respectfully say "Just Say No" to a seller's suggestion?


"Well, Joe, here's the thing. I want to sell your house as much as you do, so if I thought a particular marketing venue would work, I'd be all over it."

Very simple. It reminds the seller that you're on the same team, with a common goal of getting the home sold. And it's true! If you believed that having an enhanced profile would sell the house, you'd do it, right? If you thought that advertising the listing in the newspaper would bring in buyers, you'd advertise in the newspaper all day long, wouldn't you?

Of course, you certainly may do any and all advertising suggested by your seller; nothing I'm saying here advises against it. Doing these activities certainly won't hurt the chances of the home selling, but if you want to say "no" and haven't figured out how, give this a try. If said calmly, confidently and non-defensively, the seller will usually understand and agree! 


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Mark Montross
Catamount Realty Group - Burlington, VT
Listing and Buyer Specialist

Jennifer, thank you for the great idea. I just received an email this morning from a client who wants a ton of extras - now I know how to respond to them!

Sep 04, 2010 08:46 AM #17
Alan Bruzee
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Rockville, MD

You have to have YOUR plan and follow it.  When you start changing up for a particular client, it costs you time, money, credibility, and usually doesn't work.  Because you are so RIGHT - if if worked at this point in time in our market, of course we'd do it.

Sep 04, 2010 09:00 AM #18
Linda Jandura
Raleigh Cary Realty - Apex, NC
Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist

That's what I tell my sellers about Open Houses. If they sold houses I'd be sitting there every week. I have done a couple just to make the seller happy. They always seem to be surprised when no one, or maybe 1 person shows up. They never ask for another one.

Have a great weekend. Get to the beach!

Sep 04, 2010 09:01 AM #19
Coral Gundlach
Compass - Arlington, VA
Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate.

This is so well put and matter of fact.  I quit doing newspaper advertising way too late, last year, and now tell sellers that it is not effective and I focus my marketing budget on the internet vehicles that work (ie virtual tours) or staging items (yes I consider this to be marketing).  I will picture you doing it in a cheerful, soulful way the next time I have to tell them no or that they can do it themselves.

Sep 04, 2010 09:06 AM #20
Lesley Wagstaff
Re/Max Results Realty in Vancouver, BC - Coquitlam, BC
For Real Estate and Mortgages

I agree it is all in the way it is presented.  I let my clients know up front what I will and won't be doing, that helps a lot.

Sep 04, 2010 09:08 AM #21
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

I actually found a tenant for my seller/landlord by placing an ad in CL. Our area LOVES that site. But I love the way you worded it...being respectful and yes, reminding our sellers that we're on the same team. Our collective goal is to sell the house, and they are paying us for our expertise. Unfortunately, many sellers are listening to their co-workers who might be telling them, "She's not doing an open house?? Fire her!!!"  : )

Sep 04, 2010 10:14 AM #22
Dick & Sandy Beals
Wilmington Real Estate 4U Wilmington, NC - Wilmington, NC

"Well, Joe, here's the thing. I want to sell your house as much as you do, so if I thought a particular marketing venue would work, I'd be all over it."

I will advertise your home and put it on the front page of the newspaper in color if that is what you want....reduce the price by $100,000.00! 

It is never what you do or do not is always the price.....that is what they need to know, and be told gently

Dick Beals

Sep 04, 2010 01:37 PM #23
Kathy Kenney
Keller Williams, Princeton, NJ - Robbinsville, NJ
Realtor - Princeton & Central NJ Homes for Sale

I love the Sellers that listen to co-workers, friends and relatives, who have never sold a home in their lives!  Of course we want to sell your house, we don't get paid unless we do!  It's funny how their friends don't tell them that their house is overpriced, smells like cat, and needs to be decluttered!

Sep 04, 2010 02:11 PM #24
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Hi Jennifer,
I do SOME of the things that's on your don't do list.

Enhanced  - I get it at a steep discount through Keller - so why not?

Broker Opens for SOME types of listings - not others.

Postcard distribution to the neighborhoods- advertising open houses and my web site.

NO FLYERS - they are messy and end up on the road and as litter etc.

The rest  I won't do either.  I may do ONE newspaper ad for an open house if the home isn't selling and we've had a big price reduction.

Talking riders?  You gotta be kidding me!

The post-cards seem to work at some level - the do drive up traffic. - if it weren't dirt cheap for me I would NEVER use it.

All areas are different. What works for some doesn't work for others.

Sep 04, 2010 03:33 PM #25
Stanley Stepak
Howard Hanna - Avon Lake, OH - Avon Lake, OH
Realtor - Avon Lake, Avon, Bay Village, Westlake,

well said and I like your approach to the seller.

Sep 04, 2010 04:23 PM #26
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I think this is good language for handling this problem.  Sellers often hear something or believe that things work that don't.

Sep 04, 2010 05:28 PM #27
Bryan Robertson
Los Altos, CA

You hit the nail on the head.  I will NOT do print advertising.  It doesn't draw buyers and wastes money.  I will put print ads for open houses but that's with the brokerage so it doesn't cost me or my client anything.

I will do high quality flyers but that's expected for homes in this area.  However, I don't send them to other agents or neighbors in hardcopy form.  I always send them out as eflyers.

Sellers just don't get it these days about marketing.  In most markets it comes down to online presence and networking - knowing other agents.  Do those two things and the rest is just fluff.

Sep 04, 2010 05:30 PM #28
Christine Pappas - REALTOR®
eXp Realty - Willoughby, OH
eXp Realty - Because Experience Matters

Another good one Miss Jen!  Even my own kids have asked me why people think they can do my job better then me sometimes.  I tell them, everyone wants to be an armchair real estate agent.

Sep 05, 2010 02:32 AM #29
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Ken & Tanya - Oh, don't I know it! I figured out this solution totally by the seat of my pants with a difficult client a few years ago. He was second-guessing everything I did and providing all kinds of "helpful" advice. I found myself on the defensive every day, several times a day, and it was eating me up. I finally took a deep breath and asked myself WHY I wasn't doing everything he wanted me to and BAM! The answer was so obvious! He wanted me to do stuff that I was certain wouldn't work, but if I thought it would, I'd do it - I mean, duh!

What actually helped me come to this epiphany was that, at the time, I owned a discount brokerage firm, so it was easier to "blame" my hesitance to spend money frivolously on that. But once the words left my mouth, I realized they were true regardless of the compensation involved.

Oh, by the way - PLEASE don't take my list of stuff I won't do literally - if something has worked for you in the past - DO IT!

Sep 05, 2010 03:43 AM #30
Charlie Ragonesi - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

I feel a little better looking at your don't list as it mirrors mine. i would like to see your do list as any help is appreciated

Sep 05, 2010 08:17 AM #31
Ken Gramley
Cary, NC

Great post! In my area it's open houses that don't work, and I often have to explain to my clients why I don't do them.  No one even questions me on not doing print advertising anymore.  I am surprised that enhanced listings are on your list, as I get quite a bit of online traffic from that route.

Sep 06, 2010 04:40 AM #32
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Well, I just wrote a long response to Charlie's question, hit SUBMIT and poof. It was gone. Darnit.

I'll be back later to recreate it!

Sep 07, 2010 01:30 AM #33
Dick and Dixie Sells
Sells Real Estate, LLC - Trinity, FL
Realtors, Tampa Bay Florida Homes For Sale

Sometimes frustrated sellers cling to unrealistic modes of advertising and showings. Thinking that only if.... Great No answer back! I will commit that one to memory !

Sep 08, 2010 01:16 AM #34
Bill Saunders, Realtor®
Meyers Realty - Hot Springs, AR

I am reminded of the seller that wanted me to go down and door-knock his listing (that was rented for the weekend) and be certain to remind the tenants that it was for sale. UH...they were on...a...honeymoon...   Yeah, right...good luck with THAT tactic... :)

Sep 08, 2010 01:38 AM #35
Kim Boekholder Utah Real Estate
Results Real Estate 801.580.5624 - Draper, UT
Broker, Results Real Estate

I love the comment " I want to sell your home as much as you do"

Very well written as always,  thank you

Sep 30, 2010 04:41 PM #36
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