Why Won't the Agents Showing my House Say Something?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY License # 49FA1074963

What kind of a welcome mat are you? As Yogi Berra says, you can see an awful lot by watching. And as a broker who oversees 20+ agents, 50+ listings and who still works in the field with select buyers, I do see both sides of an issue that sellers often bring up in the discussion of listing and selling their house. 

Many of the people who list their home for sale with me already experienced failure with a prior broker. They often tell me in our preliminary interview that they were frustrated with the lack of "selling" they witnessed with the agents who showed their home when they came by. Why they were even home to see this in the first place is a post for another day-suffice to say the folks aren't free to speak with the owner 2 feet away. The question itself speaks to the need consumers have for education and understanding as to how homes are chosen and bought. 

"The agents who show the home just walk through and hardly say anything about the house. Don't they want to make a sale? Why aren't they pushing for a sale?"

To understand the fallacious underpinnings of the question, you first have to understand the process a 2011 buyer goes through in the selection of a home. They don't want to be "sold." This isn't a home-o-matic that comes with free steak knives if you act now. This is a six figure decision in an unreliable economy that will house their family. And owners or agents who follow them around the home tour peppering them with data about the storage under the stairs, an anecdote about the wall oven, and dozens of other well meaning tidbits are viewed as a distraction and nuisance

Buyer agents who are not talkative are not ignorant about the house. They aren't talkative because they do know their buyer clients. Rather than seeing a home tour as a sales pitch, it is better to view it as a dressing room or a library. They are studying it. They are taking it in. They are soaking in it. They are seeing if it fits them. They are assessing how they look in it. And that's hard to do with someone in your space the whole time.

If it feels like home, they'll ask questions or gladly take a data sheet with a list of all those improvements and enhancements the owner wanted to ram down their throat in the first 15.8 seconds they walked in. If it doesn't feel like home, no list will matter- it is off the list. Just imagine how little clothing a store would sell if the sales staff followed you into the dressing room and yapped about the pleats. How intrusive and unsettling would that be? 

Most homes sell themselvesA smart buyer agent therefore lets the buyer client go through the very personal process of understanding the house in as pressure free a manner as possible, selecting what to say carefully tailored to their clients needs as they see them apply through the home. They aren't not trying to sell. Quite the contrary. They know that doing what a biased, emotional un-trained homeowner does will foil a sale. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Homeowners are wise to not be present for showings. And mandating that a listing agent accompany showings as their proxy is a bad idea in most cases also. Let the buyer agent do their job. If you are an owner and you have a pitch you feel works for the house, write it up and print it for the buyer to take with them so they can reference it quietly, at their own pace, and without pressure on their own terms. Homes are bought, not sold. If it doesn't feel like home in the first place, you'll never talk them into buying. 

Let the buyer try it on and see how it fits in peace. Let them study it without noise. Stay out of the way. My results say this is the way to go. 



Re-Blogged 5 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Gabe Sanders 08/01/2011 12:39 AM
  2. Cheryl Ritchie 08/01/2011 12:54 AM
  3. Maureen McCabe 08/01/2011 03:47 AM
  4. Brian Rugg 08/01/2011 03:37 AM
  5. Evelyn Johnston 08/01/2011 08:12 AM
Home Selling
Independent Brokerages
40 Somethings
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Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618
Keller Williams Valley Realty - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Phil - We too will take them by our hands if there are more than one person and show them all of the hidden storage that can be had for a very reasonable price in this market. Great post....

Aug 01, 2011 05:34 AM #52
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Century 21 Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

No matter if the house is gorgeous ....it has to FEEL LIKE HOME to the buyer....so stay out of the way!

Aug 01, 2011 05:47 AM #53
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Couldn't agree more.  The homes needs to feel as "neutral" as possible.  The owners or their agent present gives the feel of it being less than neutral -- it's the owners home.  Buyers want to feel themselves there, and when someone is present (onwer of their agent) they feel like a "guest" not a "buyer"

Aug 01, 2011 07:14 AM #54
Zeev Greenstein
Nadlan Realty, LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtor - Wellington Florida

Exellent post! And its not just homeowners...i had a few listing agents that HAVE to be there for showing because "they know the house better then me..." well if thats the case i do not show the house.

Aug 01, 2011 07:22 AM #55
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

J. Philip

Oh, this is a good one. I certainly understand why anxious sellers want as much feedback as possible, and perceive a buyer agent, or the listing agent, as one who will convince buyers to buy. Ain't so, except maybe in HGTV land, but that's all scripted anyhow.

Consumers do NOT want to be sold, and don't need to these days. I think anyone who believes they can talk someone into buying a particular home is fooling themselves, and probably stepping outside their fiduciary bounds.


Aug 01, 2011 07:22 AM #56
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

One sure way to turn your buyer off is to SELL THEM when showing houses. That's a fact! We're here to provide information and put THEIR interest first, not ours. And no, that's not a load of brown squishy stuff. This type of behavior leads to referrals. Seller need to understand this and then they'll appreciate agents, especially when they're ready to do a little house hunting themselves!

Aug 01, 2011 07:22 AM #57
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

No doubt about it.  You, cannot make someone like your home not because you have loved it every minute you've lived there or because you spend a lot of time or effort getting it ready to sell.  The buyer will buy it when it feels like home and fits their budget and lifestyle.  Great post!

Aug 01, 2011 08:11 AM #58
Laurie Martinez
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Dana Point, CA
South Orange County Real Estate

This is a very well-written post!  When it comes to individuall homes, I am not a salesperson, I am an agent.  My job is to assist the buyer in finding and purchasing the home that is right for them.  I am diligent in finding possible choices, but they know "it" when they see it!

Aug 01, 2011 08:22 AM #59
Deb McNeill
Flying M Team Small World Realty Fort Worth, Tx - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Good post! One of the best darn 'sales' techniques around is to know when to shut your mouth and let the buyer fall in love.

Aug 01, 2011 09:18 AM #60
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

I don't SELL a house that way either. It's in the buyer's gut reaction and no pushing should be needed.

Aug 01, 2011 09:53 AM #61
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA

J. Philip:

The first thing is Sellers should not be at a showing of their house.  Second, if they are present during a showing they should be invisible.  The sellers should not tell the agent how to sell their house or tell the buyer about the great "closet under the stairs" story.

Aug 01, 2011 10:13 AM #62
Elizabeth Byrne
Keller Williams Realty - Arlington, VA
Arlington Virginia Real Estate

You are right - home buyers don't want to be followed around and sold on anything. Buyers usually know what they want and too much sale pitching leads to lost sales. 

Aug 01, 2011 10:36 AM #63
Michael Brown

I could not have said it better.

Great post...

Aug 01, 2011 05:52 PM #64
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

J. Philip - "Just say no" to sellers being present in the home.  Let the buyers get a feel for the home. They ask when they have questions.  Hovering does nothing but make them uncomfortable.

Aug 01, 2011 06:22 PM #65
Phyllis Lerner call 914.438.7556
William Raveis Legends Realty Group LLC - Tarrytown, NY
William Raveis Legends Realty Group

Hi Phil...

as you said... nobody can "sell" a home to anyone... not the home owner, the listing agent and especially not the buyers agent... you only can "introduce" a home to a potential buyer... that very buyer in the end decides if it "fits" the bill...

Aug 01, 2011 06:40 PM #66
Peter Mastroianni
RealPartner.com - Pelham, NY

Terrific stuff as always Phil.  Your insights into the homebuying experience are always so right on.

Just one thing, what is the number for "home-o-matic"?  I really need a new set of steak knives.

Aug 01, 2011 08:35 PM #67
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good afternoon Philip. You are one smart guy who writes very, very well. I really enjoyed this.

Aug 02, 2011 10:45 AM #68
Renée Donohue
Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - www.urLVhome.com






This is a different day and age.  Homes will sell themselves and buyers are EXTREMELY savvy with their homework.  We are hired NOT to be door openers but to be savvy negotiators to protect their interest when things get hairy.  The fun begins during ESCROW!

Aug 02, 2011 02:07 PM #69
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Why oh why won't those sellers listen?  Buyers feel downright creeped out if the seller is present stalking their every facial expression and hanging on their every word.

Aug 03, 2011 09:34 AM #70
Lina Robertson
RE/MAX Solutions and RE/MAX House of Brokers - Springfield, MO
REALTOR® Serving Springfield, Nixa and Ozark, MO

Amen!  I don't hear this as often as I used to, but maybe that's because I really train my sellers to stay out of the home during showings.  The sellers who typically make that statement are the ones that feel that they could do a better job selling their home than we can.  They also don't get that the buyer's agent is working for THE BUYER, not for THE SELLER.

Aug 05, 2011 02:36 AM #71
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