I Don’t Have To Sell. By Dan Polimino.

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty DTC

Many times, I would go on a listing appointment to talk with a potential seller and they would tell at the end of the presentation, “Well, I really don’t have to sell!” Which then prompts my response of, “So why are you putting your home on the market?” After all, selling a home and keeping it in constant show-ready condition is not a lot of fun and usually requires a lot of work and patience. The sellers go on to say, “If I can get my price, I would sell the home.” If you want me to translate this last sentence for you, I will. It means the following from the seller: “I am going to ignore good data about the price of my home, overprice it, and let it sit on the market until I get what I want for it.” That is a recipe for disaster for everyone involved. 

When I represent buyers and I submit offers to the listing agents, I often hear from the listing agent that the seller did not accept the offer. I go on to discuss with the listing agent why we think it’s a fair offer. Then lo and behold, the famous sentence comes out, “Well, my sellers really don’t have to sell.” I then say to the agent, “Well, maybe they should take their home off the market.” 

You see, the days of some fairy tale buyer walking off the street and overpaying for a home stopped about five years ago. Buyers know exactly what a home is worth and in some cases, put in fair offers. Sellers cannot fall back on the old “I don’t have to sell” excuse anymore because that market does not exist. If a seller really doesn’t have to sell, they should not have their home listed. By overpricing the home, it ensures that it will sit and accumulate days on the market which hurts the seller and the marketability of the home. The listing agent will be frustrated because they can’t sell it, and buying agents will stop showing it because they’ll realize that the seller will not look at a reasonable offer. The end result may be a seller chasing down the market and being forced to do a series of price drops or take the home off the market. In either case, it ends up being an exercise in futility for everyone involved. 

Dan Polimino is a Realtor with Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty. He can be reached at DPolimino@fullerproperties.com and www.coloradodreamhouse.com/denverpost 

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Comments (195)

Paula Cardozo
Long Island Property Shoppe - Amityville, NY

Dan...you don't believe in the "Home Sale" Fairy?... you have described the sellers in my inventory that haven't sold.  They are waiting for the buyer to get off the "bannana boat" with a "proper"offer and think nothing of complaining to you when the "Banana boat" dosen't dock and they watch prices going down over the course of their long term listing...a gentle message to homeowners; "Get Real"and you will sell your house... no buyer is that uneducated today.  

Paula Cardozo,  Broker/Owner

LI Property Shoppe Amityville NY

Oct 06, 2011 06:33 AM
Steve Earnshaw

I love this post and the many great responses.  I tell those sellers, "I am a small firm with limited shelf space for listing inventory.  There are two wharehouse companies down the street with unlimited slelf space that would be happy to list your house at any price.  I truely wish you the best of luck!"

Oct 06, 2011 11:44 AM
Rod Powers


Right on! I too, have a seller right now who keeps quoting these same words to me. (They are long time clients and we sold this house to them originally) I keep showing them comps every week and their position on the active list. It just dosen't seem to make any difference. I send them news articles and market states for the area and they still will not reduce. The funny thing is they keep thinking a buyer will come along and pay their price. I keep teling them to wait for a couple years and I'll let them know when the market reaches their home's value. The funny thing is, then they'll want even more! Go figure!!

Oct 06, 2011 02:17 PM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Um I don't have to sell_ well great Don't, but when you do call me. I only work with sellers that need to sell.

Oct 06, 2011 03:46 PM
Balboa Real Estate San Diego, CA - San Diego, CA

Been there, doneTHAT!! Any good agent would never take an unrealistically priced Listing from an unmotivated Seller.

Oct 06, 2011 04:40 PM
Michael Singh,Broker
Singh Real Estate - Corral de Tierra, CA

I tell them  Thats great the buyers are in the same position.

Oct 06, 2011 04:47 PM
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Sellers don't "have to" sell, but then Buyes don't "have to" buy a specific house either.

Oct 06, 2011 05:07 PM
Mike Schneider
10 YRS with Active Rain ! - Lake in the Hills, IL

When I first meet with seller....I tell them it's simply about "ME"....I love the look on their face.....

I explain it's not what theyre thinking so I explain....."ME" = Motivation + Education.

best wishes./


Oct 06, 2011 05:19 PM
Joshua Stein
Coldwell Banker Preferred - Conshohocken - Flourtown, PA
Homes For Sale - Montgomery County
The truly sad thing us when sellers who NEED to sell act like they don't HAVE to. They overprice and sit, and there ain't a thing you can do about it.
Oct 07, 2011 09:33 AM
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

good points

Oct 07, 2011 05:35 PM
Christine Gerbehy
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Northfield - Egg Harbor Township, NJ
Making waves, one home at a time...

Dan, it's just like the "make me move" keys on Zillow, it's RIDICULOUS!  These people are still living in the "WOW" market.... what a shame.

Oct 08, 2011 05:22 PM
Lexie Longstreet
Savvy + Co. Real Estate - Charlotte, NC

I agree that if a seller isn't super motivated... they shouldn't put a house on the market.  But some people are super motivated but can't afford to sell.  Having $30K or $50K to bring to the closing table just to sell a house doesn't always make sense.  And sometimes they just don't have the money.  With the rental market being so hot sometimes it's just better to rent and make a profit every month than loose a huge chunk of change.  That is what buyers need to understand.  They may like a house, and want it but if the seller can't afford to walk away and loose X dollars... then those buyers may not be living in that house.  

Oct 09, 2011 06:26 AM
Tony Lewis
RE/MAX of Valencia (Hall of Fame) 30 year Valencia Resident - Valencia, CA
Summit Real Estate Santa Clarita & Aliso Viejo

You don't have to sell and I don't have to take the listing.  I might if your lawn presents a good place to place my advertisement, my sign!

Oct 09, 2011 07:15 PM
Kerry Jenkins
Prime Properties - Crestline, CA

Great, I willthank you now for using your home to try to get buyers from the yard sign, since that's about all the good that will come of your listing. If you don't mind that, then great! Let's sign here.

Oct 11, 2011 06:03 AM
Catherine Marrone
Integrity Residential Brokerage LLC - West Newbury, MA
West Newbury MA real estate, Essex County

Yes, Yes, and Yes.  Every once in awhile I take an over priced listing and always regret it.

Oct 11, 2011 09:57 AM
Jim Hale
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

It is not just the agent who will live to regret (taking) the overpriced listing.  The seller will regret it, too.


If you list a home today, thoe people who started looking today, yesterday, last week, last month, and up to a year AGO will take a look at the price and decide whether they want to bother: driving by, seeing the inside, or making an offer.


(It helps to know that, in my market the ratio of sale price to last listed price is around 96%, depending on area or price range.  Successful offers below that are few.  For every one that succeeds at, say, 92%,  the law of averages demands that there by one at full price.)


If you do not price right and you thereby fail to entice a buyer from among that pool of folks already in the market,  you will then be stuck with relying on the buyers who come onto the market tomorrow, next week, next month, or a year from now.

In short, you will have kissed goodbye over half of the potential buyers who might ever consider your house.  That means you have chosen to reduce the size of the pool of buyers for your house, greatly  increasing the chances that you will have to go to settle for an even lower price than you might have realistically expected by pricing fairly now.

Is your experiment in testing the market to get the very highest price you think you "should" get really worth taking that risk.

A good agent should inform the seller of these realities. 

That is what they pay us for.

Oct 11, 2011 01:18 PM
Jayson Holland
Listings.com - Denver, CO
Jay Holland

For a transaction to take place you need the parties on both sides to have the means and the motivation. Only having one and not the other will not work.

Your buyer could have all the motivation in the world and no money, or all the money in the world and just be kicking tires.

The seller could have all the money (equity) but no motivation......as in your example.....or they could have all the motivation, but their house is upside down 30% and they dont have the means to pay off the loan.

On a short-sale it is the same test, except the bank has to have the means and the motivation.

Good luck.




Oct 23, 2011 04:07 AM
Matt Robinson
Professional Investors Guild - Pensacola, FL
While I am equally frustrated by an unreasonable seller, I think it's their prerogative if they want to list it. If they can find an agent who doesn't mind listing for more than it's worth, and they don't mind keeping it show ready, and they are OK with getting offers much lower than their asking price, then more power to them. It's a free market, and I don't think it's our place to tell them what to do. You are right, it may hurt them in the long run, but I don't have a problem with someone who wants to test the market. That's the freedom of living in this great country...and the free market will tell them if they're in fact wasting their time.
Mar 13, 2012 02:40 AM
Sylvia Jonathan
Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties - Irvine, CA
Broker Associate, SFR

The "I don't have to sell" statement is on equal footing with a buyer declaring "I'm not in a hurry to buy". Each time I have heard those words in the past, the "client" hired an agent for entertainment value.

The advantage of these words coming out at the listing presentation, rather than 3 months down the road when an offer comes in, is that the agent knows what he or she has to deal with.

Oct 03, 2012 02:23 AM
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

This post is spot on. I have been there many times.

Oct 16, 2012 01:46 AM