In the blog titled Reasons to Rethink “For Sale By Owner” I started exploring some of the things sellers should consider before putting their homes on the market without the help of a professional. That blog focused on price. It considered the idea of accurately pricing a home the first time by partnering with a professional real estate agent. An agent can consider all of the current market factors and help set an asking price that will attract the appropriate buyers from the beginning rather than under or over valuing the home and losing out on the initial frenzy of interest. In this blog, I want to encourage sellers to think about how helpful it is to partner with someone who is essentially a professional negotiator.
Working with a real estate agent gives the seller a buffer from the direct pressure of haggling. Some people LOVE to haggle. You know the ones that come to a garage sale and if something is already underpriced for $.50 they ask if you’ll take a quarter…. It’s almost a game to many people to see if they can get a better deal on something or really a “brag worthy” deal. It makes it feel like a success of some sort. The interesting thing is that many times the people don’t actually expect anyone to accept their lower offers but don’t see why they shouldn’t try….. SOOOOO they ask. This sort of direct haggling makes many people uncomfortable and nervous. They subconsciously become competitive and emotional (heart racing, hands sweating) and this reaction comes with little things or things of small relative value. When the haggling is over someone’s home, typically people’s single biggest asset, this reaction is amplified. If a low offer is made the seller may become personally offended and insulted rather than knowing it’s just haggling at its core. Think about this: the entire concept of the successful car sales store CarMax is based on customers’ basic aversion to haggling. They want to know that the price, is the price, is the price, without question. A real estate professional will handle this part of the process for the seller and deliver the offers without the element of confrontation. The seller is hearing the information (offers high, low, or on target) from someone on their own “team” who will deliver it along with whatever context it takes to make it palatable. This brings me to the next point: the process.
A professional knows the system and can guide sellers through the process with the context and explanations of an insider. The agents can discuss offers and purchase prices without the emotion that the owner has. This allows them to consider the discussion with less bias and then filter the message so that the owner only hears what is relevant. There is a certain amount of pattern to the typical process of selling a home that experience has prepared the agent to expect. For example, if the current market is better for buyers because there is a great deal of inventory, the agent may expect to get a low first offer. He or she can help the seller understand that this is the potential buyer’s starting point (usually) and not the final offer (again, usually…). Experience may also help agents detect if an offer is just a truly long shot lowball or if someone is actually willing to compromise and arrive at a fair market price. These things progress toward the invaluable role of the agent as advisor to the seller.
Free advice is worth what you paid for it. How many times have you heard that? There is also that saying about opinions….. but, we’ll let that go. A real estate professional is like a tour guide, an educator, a counselor, and a coach – among a million other things depending on which facet of the job we consider – but definitely these when focusing on the relationship between agent and seller. The agent can help the sellers clearly understand their position within the market as well as their options and the consequences of these. For example: what if the sellers receive one of the before mentioned lowball offers and they become angry at the insult? They could lash out and tell the potential buyer to take a hike. That could have been THE buyer…. the next offer may have been a far more reasonable response to a counter offer by the seller that sent a message about how much they were willing to move in price. How much would emotion cost the seller in that scenario? An agent can also advise the seller if they know a particular feature of the house is currently sought after in that area and encourage the seller not to deviate too far from asking price. Waiting another day may bring a more appealing offer. What could that be worth? Again, this is advice from experience and analysis of trends in the market – knowledge and expertise that comes from being a field professional. This isn’t a crystal ball or “insider trading” or authoritative dictates. The seller ALWAYS has the final decision. It’s just for the best if they have all of the information when they make it.
Finally, when sellers make the decision to sell their home and consider doing it without a professional, I hope they consider all of the aspects of what that entails and demands of them. When sellers partner with experienced real estate professionals, they gain a trusted confidant who can run interference, shield, cheer, prepare, encourage, educate, and guide them through the process saving them time, emotion, and in the long run, many times money as well. That is certainly food for thought.