5 Mistakes Made by Listing Agents

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Broadpoint Properties Cal BRE #01324959

real estate agentsI’m not exactly sure why the world believes that selling real estate is a glamorous job. It’s true that many agents have fancy cars and some attend wine and cheese parties and tour beautiful luxury homes. However, there is a lot more to real estate than just topping off with a glass of merlot.

Setting the Tone for a Smooth Transaction

It takes more than just that glass of merlot to set the tone for a smooth transaction. Since so many things can run amok with respect to a home purchase or sale, I’ve found it best to explain that a real estate agent is like a pilot. It’s the pilot’s job to get you to your destination safely and to avoid as much turbulence as possible. The same with the agent—we look to protect our clients from themselves and also to manage any turbulence that may come up along the way. Having worked with thousands of agents and having participated in thousands of transactions, I’ve found that real estate is always a learning experience and each transaction is like a brand new adventure.

Huge Mistakes Made by Listing Agents

Here are the 5 biggest mistakes made by listing agents, and what you can do to resolve them.

  1. Taking an overpriced listing. Everyone wants to have a full sales pipeline, and the best way to do that is to add lots of listings in your portfolio. But, what about the seller that wants to list his or her home for $200,000 over value just because he has an emotional attachment to the property? Do you take the listing or not? While it is tempting to take a listing, the best course of action is to focus on properties that you can actually sell. This means that if you cannot develop a written price reduction plan during the life of the listing, then taking the listing may not be in your best interest.
  2. Embarrassing and unprofessional photography. Not only do the listing photos showcase the best features of the property for all to see, but they are also an online showcase of your abilities as a listing agent. As such, it’s best (unless you take awesome photos yourself) to hire a professional photographer to take the pictures. If the listing is at a lower price point, hire the photographer to take a smaller quantity. Of course, there are obvious hurdles when the seller is not cooperative and the place looks like a pigsty, and these will be difficult to overcome no matter what photographer you hire.
  3. Not answering and returning phone calls. While I certainly understand that everyone is busy, I’ve made it my creed to always return every call and respond to every email in a timely manner. You never know which phone call will lead to a new listing, a new referral or even a new friend or loved one. You can set yourself apart from the bulk of your competition by answering every call each day.
  4. Responding to offers too quickly. If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it is that the real estate transaction is something that happens slowly and deliberately. If you rush to accept an offer, you may not have thought through the details. Also, you never know what additional offers may come in the following day. Take your time and have a good heart-to-heart with the sellers in order to assure that all the terms are satisfactory before rushing to acceptance.
  5. Inability to manage the drama. There’s nothing worse than the second listing agent hearing bad stuff about the first one. Often times, this happens when the first agent didn’t set expectations accordingly. In my neck of the woods and with all those new lending guidelines, it’s tough to calculate the closing date with 100% certainty. That’s why we always tell our clients that the property will close within 5 days of the closing date. Then, nobody is mad if the deal doesn’t close exactly as specified. It’s those sorts of minute tweaks to the messaging that can make a huge difference and leave you with a much better relationship with your clients. If you anticipate the drama and handle it through your regular scripting, everyone will be much happier with your service.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

If you want to get lots of transactions close, you cannot sweat the small stuff. You cannot worry about whether the buyer dropped off his pay stub or get the required item notarized. And, you cannot fixate on the few drops of water coming from the hose bib outside. Focus on identifying more prospective home sellers, and use the tips provided to constantly sharpen your saw.


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  1. Shawn McNeal 11/16/2016 06:38 AM
Real Estate Industry

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Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

#2 & #3 - Have always baffled me.  I can't imagine an agent can even get any business if those two elements are not rock solid.

Nov 11, 2016 10:12 PM #14
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

Great post, Melissa.  You have made some great points. 

Nov 11, 2016 10:20 PM #15
MaryBeth Mills Muldowney
TradeWinds Realty Group LLC - Braintree, MA
Massachusetts Broker Owner

Excellent post - especially about setting the expectations on closing dates and more.  We do our very best to keep control of all the moving parts but let's face it some are just out of our control. Thank you.

Nov 11, 2016 11:16 PM #16
Anna Hatridge
R Gilliam Real Estate LLC - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with R Gilliam Real Estate LLC

Congratulations on the feature!  Well deserved, as all of these points are excellent business advice.

Nov 11, 2016 11:47 PM #17
Greg Mona
eXp Realty - Chandler, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

Another great post by Melissa Zavala!  "Don't sweat the small stuff" and "Don't take overpriced listings without a reduction program in writing" (paraphrased a bit) are two excellent takeaways here. 

Nov 12, 2016 02:20 AM #18
Theresa Akin

Great post and for all agents seasoned and the newbies.

Nov 12, 2016 02:22 AM #19
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Melissa

This is a terrific post with some pretty sound advice! Some agents are their own worst enemies by what they do and say, or don't. I especially like the parting commentary about not sweating the small stuff.


Nov 12, 2016 03:44 AM #20
Ron Aguilar
Continental Mortgage - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

5 excellent and common points, thanks for your time

Nov 12, 2016 03:53 AM #21
Rose Mary Justice
Synergy Realty Pros - Dandridge, TN
Synergy Realty Pros

Excellent Post.   A Drama free transaction is the best result.  If we stick to these key points all should be good in a smoothe transaction for all sides.

Nov 12, 2016 09:44 AM #22
Kathryn Acciari
Century 21 Real Estate - Shrewsbury, MA
Brand Ambassador and Business Coach

Setting expectations among all parties involved helps clear the clouds away. Great post!

Nov 12, 2016 08:37 PM #23
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Your post lived up to my hopes when I clicked on the title. Thanks for sharing some winning analogies -like the pilot and turbulence-and offering great advice about managing expectations and explaining possible hurdles to clients up front.

Nov 13, 2016 01:50 AM #24
Brian Rugg
Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-818-6700 - Georgetown, TX
Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est

Closing withing 5 days of contract date must be a California thing. I've been a broker in Massachusetts and Texas and contract dates are always on or before, never approximate. In ten years I've done two extensions.

Nov 13, 2016 05:48 AM #25
Monir Clark
Atlanta Communities - Marietta, GA
Real Estate agent specialized in Northwest Atlanta

You made you points very clearly; fantastic post.

Nov 13, 2016 09:05 AM #26
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Your comparison is perfect.  Setting expectations and keeping lines of communication open goes a long way to eliminating the small stuff.

Nov 13, 2016 02:17 PM #27
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Always enjoy getting points to ponder.  Your post was level and I loved the analogy of the airplane pilot and turbulence.  Congratulations on the Feature!

Nov 13, 2016 02:20 PM #28
Florida Luxury Realty Inc - Hudson, FL
Helping Buyers and Sellers since 1994

That's a great post....and so true.....thanks for the reminders :)

Nov 13, 2016 10:27 PM #29
Jimmy Williams (352) 874-2354
Classic VI Realty - Mount Dora, FL
Lake and Western Orange County Real Estate Expert!

Excellent post, agree communication is the key to a smooth transaction, and part of the communication is setting expectations.

Nov 13, 2016 10:35 PM #30
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Inability to manage the drama...so important and a lesson I've learned. No matter how tense things can get with the transaction...never loose your cool with the client and always try to be positive.

Nov 14, 2016 04:55 AM #31
John Dotson
Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC - Highlands, NC
The experience to get you to the other side!

Melissa, these are all "Real Estate 101" points, and those of us who don't practice ALL of them are very susceptible to having our "lunch eaten" by someone who does - a higher producing agent!

Nov 14, 2016 05:19 AM #32
Dan Derito
Success! Real Estate - Brockton, MA

These are all excellent points Melissa.  We have all made at least some of these mistakes.

Nov 15, 2016 12:30 PM #38
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Melissa Zavala

Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County
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