Realtors Need Open Minds, Flexibility, and Vision

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Real Estate RS301772

Once upon a time there was an old house.  This old house had been left alone for some time.

While it was not abandoned, its owners were unable to give it all the care that was required.  Grass grew too long, brambles grew too Old House thick. Windows that once gleamed in the sunlight took on a hazy emptiness.

Inside, the once vibrant farm kitchen was tired, aged, and in need of a revival.  Attempts to modernize from the top down were halted leaving bedrooms upstairs ready with anticipation of fresh paint and new carpets that didn't materialize.  

Though old, though empty, though a little rough around the edges, the house yearned to once again be a home.  The beautiful woodwork - a sign of the craftsmanship of a bygone era - awaits a good cleaning and eager feet upon the staircase, young fingers gripping the banister.  The front porch needs a pair of rockers and a glider...and someone to sip iced tea under its shady roof.

The listing agent was excited - surely others would jump at the chance to grab this home and rejuvenate it.  It was priced well below the comparables.  It was in a good school district.  It had "good bones."  All it needed was someone with vision to see the potential.

Several agents came to show it and left oh, so quickly.

One winter showing yielded feedback of "The house needs way too much work for my buyers."  When asked if they saw how nice the upstairs was -mostly finished!- and how big the kitchen was, the agent merely shook his head and said "It wouldn't work."  The next day the listing agent went out to take new pictures of the property and noted there were no tire tracks in the snowy driveway but hers; there were no other footprints in the snow leading to the home.  The agent didn't even bother to take them inside. (But indicated that they did, and his attitude was such that the home was "worthless" and a "tear-down.")  

You can't always judge how much work a home needs merely by the outside appearance.  Remember that old adage, about books and covers and all.  

Two more agents showed the house.  One came out of the house with her clients after spending less than 3 minutes inside, muttering under her breath "That house is creepy, I could never live there!"  This agent also came completely unprepared to even explain the property boundaries or features of the property to her clients.  She wasn't there to sell anything, she was wasting everyone's time.

The second agent, however, took time with his clients.  They went over the details of the home - hidden behind the superficial - they saw how solidly the house sat on the foundation. They noted the fine woodwork, the wood floors, the large rooms.  They were guided by their agent to see the potential.  Their agent sent them comparable properties that had been renovated, so they could see the future value. Their agent sent them comparable properties so they could see how competively this home was priced, compared to others in similar condition with similar features.

We as agents aren't here to project our feelings onto a property based on our tastes, our standards, our superficial judgements. Our job is to help buyers find the right property - that's right for them, and to advise them with comparable properties on whether it's priced appropriately or not.

Some properties simply will not work; that is true. Some properties do require a lot more work than buyers want to put into it. That is true as well. But sometimes - it takes more than a cursory glance and a snap judgement based on the age of the siding or the depth of the grass in the yard.  

It is also our job to educate our buyers on what their expectations should be in a particular price range.  You can't go looking at bargain basement prices expecting a like-new home.

You as an agent need to look at the whole picture of what is being offered - property, location, condition and how well it will work for your buyers.  Dismissing a home that is essentially solid as a "teardown" merely because of old siding, overgrown grass, and a few broken windows is absurd.  

It is not about what you as an individual feel. Nobody really cares if you would live there or not - you're not the buyer.  And chances are, you are not a builder, or a home inspector, or an engineer.  So you need to be careful about what you convey to your buyers.   

This job requires an open mind, flexibility, and vision.  

Posted by

Homes For Sale & Local Info for Pike County, Wayne County, & Lake Wallenpaupack in Northeast PA.


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Karen Rice (that's me!) lists & sells in Tanglwood, Wallenpaupack Lake Estates, Hideout, Indian Rocks, Masthope, Fawn Lake, Tink Wig, Woodland Hills, Walker Lake, Hemlock Farms, & more in Pike & Wayne County.

Comments (24)

Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Karen, Congratulations onthe featured post. I always keep my opinion to my self when I am showing homes because  my taste in home designs may not be the same as theirs.

Jun 13, 2013 09:47 PM
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

Very good post Karen.  I am guilty of voicing my opinion too much sometimes.  I want to make sure my buyers don't buy something that isn't right for them, but like you said, I need to have a more open mind about it.  Maybe they can see the promise of the home and are okay with it.  

Jun 13, 2013 09:56 PM
Karen Rice
Keller Williams Real Estate - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

Thanks for all the comments! 

I think sometimes we think we need to take on the role of Old Mother Hen or something...we prattle on and sometimes maybe we just need to shut up. LOL

Jun 13, 2013 10:04 PM
Tracy Oliva
West USA Realty - Arizona - Fountain Hills, AZ
The Oliva Team Arizona Agents

Good Morning Karen!! This is some great Info and this is a great post,  keep up the good work and good luck with your business.  E

Jun 13, 2013 10:22 PM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Karen, excellent post and point! I agree, it's not our job to force our opinions on our buyers. We're not buying the property.

Jun 13, 2013 10:47 PM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Like the pound dog or cat with lots of personality, hearth, someone wants to take them home. Exposure, marketing means not projecting what you would personally want, but to make shine the potential so others will hop on board. Get you tickets to a real estate closing long conference table with all the cushy high back swivel chairs, the slew of pens ready and waiting for the paperwork "t" crossing, "i" dotting.

Jun 13, 2013 10:56 PM
Fernando Herboso - Associate Broker MD, & VA
Maxus Realty Group of Samson Properties - Clarksburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

If this house was in my area, I would snap it without entering the front door. .

excellent rehab candidate. . good neighborhood and good bones?. .I would be low balling this one. .

Jun 13, 2013 11:05 PM
Jeremy De La Garza
Corpus Christi Realty Group - Corpus Christi, TX
Corpus Christi, TX

You can never judge a book by it's cover as you said, however, so of those buyers or agents may have saw it was more work than they cared to do once seeing the outside of the house. In South Texas this is the case quite a bit, old listing photos, and a different picture once we arrive at the house. Investors see past the work that is needed and the value of a finished project. Nice post

Jun 13, 2013 11:53 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

What one sees and why is a fascinating subject for many things...I knew a developer who would see potential in land while others saw nothing...he made millions

Jun 14, 2013 12:25 AM
Frank Harper
Idaho Family Real Estate - Boise, ID
Broker/Owner, Realtor, GRI, SFR.

There is a home for everyone...What might be a serious fixer upper to one person could be another persons castle!

Jun 14, 2013 12:39 AM
Edward & Celia Maddox
The Celtic Connection Realty - Queen Creek, AZ

Some buyers are visionaries, but most are not.  Don't try and turn them into one, it never works.

Jun 14, 2013 12:41 AM
Mark Horan
Resident Team Realty, LLC & Toni's Property Management LLC - Saint Cloud, FL
"The Resident Chef" - Resident Team Realty LLC &

Karen, it goes back to, 68% of buyers have no vision and cannot see potential. That number staggered me as I review properties with a calculator and couldn't understand what buyers see. Unfortunately, agents fall into the 68% also. Great post!

Jun 14, 2013 01:12 AM
Graziella Bruner
NCS Premier Real Estate - Detroit, MI
Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County

Great Post and congrats on the feature!  You're so correct about what we convey to the buyer, not only by our words, but by our actions, which speak louder than words.

Jun 14, 2013 01:55 AM
Suzanne Otto
Six Twenty Designs - Lansdale, PA
Your Montgomery County PA home stager

It's so true, but unfortunately some people just can't see the potential. They only see what's right in front of them.

Congrats on the feature!

Jun 14, 2013 02:03 AM
Harry F. D'Elia III
Avant Garde Residential Management Services - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

I agree with your post. It is not always easy to operate your own business but I could not think of doing anything else at this point in time.

Jun 14, 2013 02:54 AM
Karen Rice
Keller Williams Real Estate - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

Ed & Jeremy - it's not a matter of forcing the buyers to be visionaries but forcing REALTORS to be careful about judgements they make about a house.  Our job is to help buyers find that perfect treasure.  Just the other day I pulled up to a house with my buyers and we all sat in the car and wondered if we should get out. They said "Wow the outside looks horrible...the inside must be a mess." It did truly look awful.  It looked like a real fixer upper. But I said "Well let's see what the inside is like since we're here.

We were pleasantly surprised when we got inside to find the house in near perfect condition inside.  The sellers had, for some reason, neglected the outside. Maybe they wanted to put new siding on and ran out of money.  Who knows...but the inside was very nice.  The floor plan and layout wouldn't work for my buyers but the fact is - we would have never known how nice it actually was without stepping inside.  


Jun 14, 2013 03:48 AM
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

I hope that home has found a new family by now;  and you are 100% right, it's not our job to project our tastes or our feelings on our clients, but to guide them as necessary.

I am sure we have ALL had the clients who fell in love with a house that was nothing like what they told us they wanted - something about a particular property just spoke to them.  Sometimes they just cannot put it into words. Our job is to listen and respond accordingly.

Jun 14, 2013 06:23 AM
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Karen, when showing homes, it's all about the buyer and not us. Words are powerful and so is presentation. As long as we understand what our clients are looking for, we could present that ugly house in such way and point out all the positives that they could see themselves living in the house.

Jun 14, 2013 01:44 PM
Gerard Gilbers
Higher Authority Markeing - Asheboro, NC
Your Marketing Master

I agree that the whole picture must be evaluated. When looking at homes some owners and agents were worried about dirty dishes or clothes out of place when they won't be there after you close on the house! I know first impression are important but certain things as paint colors and carpets can all be changed!

Jun 14, 2013 02:28 PM
Ralph Gorgoglione
Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes - Kihei, HI
Hawaii and California Real Estate (310) 497-9407
"A place with potential" can be an accurate portrayal of such a diamond in the rough. You are correct; sometimes it just takes a positive outlook to see the beauty that lies beneath the obvious.
Jun 15, 2013 04:35 PM