Selling is Not Always Easy, The Best Laid Plans...

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) DRE# 00949880

"But mouse-friend, you are not alone
in proving foresight may be in vain:
the best-laid schemes of Mice and Men
go oft awry,
and leave us only grief and pain,
for promised joy!"
Robert Burns, To a Mouse

Okay, maybe that is a little over the top for a real estate transaction, but only by a little bit.  I have been involved in many transactions that promised joy, only to find out that I was wrong.  Sometimes, there are tears at the table.  Other times, like in this story, everything starts off with a promise of joy for everyone involved and quickly devolves into real frustration and more than a little pain. 

The Promising Beginning

It started off with a phone call from a real estate agent from another state.  One that I rarely get.  "Hi Ray, I found you online.  My mom and dad need an agent."  The phone interview went well, I called the agent's mom and dad and scheduled a listing appointment, also a rare event for me.  Almost everything I do is by referral. 

Anyway, I showed up at the listing appointment only to find out that I was competing against a very seasoned agent, an agent that I really liked and respected.  The interview went well and I was shocked to to find out that I would get the listing.  This was a beautiful home that would be highly valued and my client joked, "Ray, I bet this is will be your highest priced listing yet."  I just smiled.  We were all happy and there was the "promise of joy!"  I even created one of my first YouTube videos!  (It has brought me 6,648 views and 47 subscribers)

YouTube Short Video

The Best Laid Plans

While every sale is important, this one required a lot of planning.  It was a beautiful, five bedroom, four bedroom, 3,831 square foot home in a great neighborhood.  I hired a professional photographer and a wonderful stager.  I had a good idea on value, but it was a real outlier of a house.  It was only a few years old with almost all of the surrounding homes much older.  I wanted a second opinion of value, so I hired an experienced appraiser.  The appraised value came in at $895,000, which was under the valuation Zillow offered at $922,000 on its website.  Everything was in perfect order and ready to go!

Staged Pocket Road Home

The Plan Goes Awry

I listed the property and almost immediately Zillow dropped its valuation below our listing price.  I began marketing the property everywhere and held open house after open house with no results.  I ended up holding over 25 open houses and that did not include many open houses held by other agents.  We dropped the price five times over the next few months.  Each time we dropped the price, Zillow dropped their valuation lower than our sales price quickly, which was really very frustrating to my clients.  We moved forward with little concern over a new, strange virus hitting China.  It was a world away.

The strange virus, Covid, was detected in Washington, then shortly thereafter, in all parts of our country.  The open houses continued, but there were no more handshakes and we were told to keep our distance.  It was not a good time to sell a home and my clients decided to take a break.  We cancelled the listing to reevaluate the situation. 

We decided about a month later to relist.  We listed the home at $824,000, only see California shut down on 3/15/2020.  Again, Zillow dropped their valuation below our new price and there would be no more open houses in California.  It was getting to be an even more challenging situation. At least the home was vacant and we could make special arrangements for showings.

Other agents started calling in earnest.  They  were sure that COVID was going to hurt the real estate markets  and that all prices would fall and fall quickly.  We felt the price was fine, but my clients dropped the price one final time.  They really needed to sell.  Much to the chagrin of my clients, Zillow dropped their valuation below our sales price once again.

The Successful End?

Our price reduction brought in a buyer.  We closed at $790,000, over $100,000 below the appraiser's original valuation and almost one year from the day we originally listed the home.  An unhappy record for me with too many expenses for my clients and too many sleepless nights for my clients and for me.  It was a tough year.  The original plan did go awry quickly and had to be changed several times.  Now, back to Robert Burns, To a Mouse,

"while forward-looking seers, we
humans guess and fear!

I may not fear the future, but I do respect it and prepare for it.  I make plans, adjust them as needed and, while in the midst of even the most difficult transactions, remember what Abraham Lincoln used to say, "This too shall pass!"

Thank you, Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP and Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist for this month's challenge.  It has given me the opportunity to reevaluate some of my past experiences. It has also given us all the opportunity to know each other better and that is a good thing.

"Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love."
John Steinbeck


Posted by

             eXp Realty of California, Inc

Raymond Henson, SRES, GRI, e-Pro

Past Client Testimonials   

3412 Babson Drive

Elk Grove, CA 95758




Comments (51)

Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Ray-I too find it interesting that Zillow would drop their Zestimate so many times. That had to have been a very trying year for you!!!  And you're right...the best laid plans...

Mar 25, 2023 07:22 PM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

It was a tough year, Kathy Streib.  We tried very hard to get the right price on the house by hiring an appraiser for a second opinion, but then we had Zillow with their very quick value adjustments.  I think it had to have an affect.

Mar 27, 2023 06:33 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

It sounds like Zillow estimates of value have a lot of sway in your market.  House value can change quickly but ultimately isn't it what the buyer is willing to pay? Like you, I often have sleepless nights when a deal is not going well/house not selling!

Mar 27, 2023 08:59 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Hi Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR!  I have been taking a little time off and, not surprisingly, I am sleeping better.  Even when all my transactions are going well, I still worry.  I think it helps me make sure all my t's are crossed and my i's dotted. 

Mar 27, 2023 08:39 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

That's a really strange situation. "They" say timing is everything and unfortunately, it seems this house hit at exactly the wrong time. I'm surprised because your photo shows a very attractive home. Thankfully the sellers stayed with you and all your marketing, staging, and professional photos procured a buyer for this wonderful property, despite the struggles.

Mar 28, 2023 07:57 AM
Gloria Todor
Premier Property Sales & Rentals - Media, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Ray such a difficult time to sell, but it sounds like your guidance and communication with your clients kept things going to end.  Great that you were chosen for the listing.

Mar 28, 2023 09:13 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

It really was a gorgeous home, Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty.  It had two challenges.  The street is was on was busy, but not as busy as it was perceived to be.  It was also in a group of homes that were only a few years old surrounded by much older homes.  If it was one block to the South, it would have sold for over $1,000,000.  Still, we accounted for those issues and so did the appraiser we hired.  

Mar 28, 2023 09:47 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Thank you very much, Gloria Todor.  It was a team effort for sure.  It required a lot of faith and a positive attitude from my clients, too. 

Mar 28, 2023 09:49 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Ray, I think we all have a story along similar lines,  associated with covid, or not.  Many of them are not near your price point.  We feel as though we've disappointed our clients, our selves... but in reality, we've done the very best we could under difficult circumstances.

I, too, have had the same experience with Zillow, lowering their Zestimate to submarine our listing price.  It infuriated my seller, who insisted I contact Zillow and threaten them with a lawsuit (I did contact them, sans threat).  Fun times.

Mar 29, 2023 03:56 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

My clients were not happy about the price drops either, Alan May.  We discussed the issue a few times.  Did you get any feedback from Zillow when you contacted them?  I think the "sans threat"  was well thought out, by the way.  

May the good times roll! ! !  

Mar 29, 2023 08:10 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

That must have been so frustrating for all of you!  Arizona only shut down for a month so by May we were roaring upward.  Crazy times!

Mar 29, 2023 06:42 PM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

They were crazy times, Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ and we loved visiting Arizona during the Covid times.  It was much more open than CA and we really appreciated that it was so open.

Mar 29, 2023 06:57 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ

You bet!  I remember being in a restaurant at the bar with some friends and 2 couples in a row from California had dinner next to me. It was pretty funny!  Your idea wasn't original! 

Mar 29, 2023 07:08 PM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

You were fortunate to finally get it sold for your clients but he bigger item I gleaned from the post was the activities of the Z company. In as much as they are trying to get into the sales side of the business could they have been deliberately trying to sabotage your sale and maybe have a local agent ready to come in and take it away?

Mar 30, 2023 09:17 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Ray Henson - At the time, I had the best year ever during Covid.  I got a listing right before the shutdown.  Our MLS rose to the challenge and developed processes to ensure the safe showing of homes.  I came up with a virtual showing for sellers and buyers.  It was not the same in other states.  Arizona made the adjustments and let us use good common sense in handling Covid.  I feel terrible for other states that had restrictions that strangled their economy. 

Mar 30, 2023 09:54 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

This post speaks VOLUMES about what kind of agent you are, Ray. I am so looking forward to sending a referral you way as it is so obvious that you do the right thing, communicate with your client and have unwavering empathy for them in difficult situations. 

I was so happy to see that they stuck with you - through thick & thin and through price changes and an incredibly difficult WORLD change (with Covid). 

You are a rockstar in my book and I thank you for participating in this month's challenge. GREAT post - and love the video too!

Apr 01, 2023 06:04 PM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

I would like to think it was not that, Ed Silva, but who really knows.  It was really frustrating for my clients and me.  I do not recall it happening on my other listings. 

Apr 02, 2023 07:17 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Thank you very much, Debe Maxwell, CRS.  I really do think it says more about them than me that they stuck with me.  They kept me positive the whole time.  They also told me that they had a lot of calls from agents that specialize in cancelled listings who criticized my actions.  They would have none of it.  I do miss them.

BTW-If I have a chance at a referral, I better get my AZ license soon.   😉

Apr 03, 2023 06:55 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

One of the big reasons we are in Arizona now is the way CA manages the state, Sheri Sperry - MCNE®.  It becomes very apparent in times of turbulence.  We are much happier in a state that treats its citizens like adults.

Congratulations on your success in such challenging times!  Well done!

Apr 03, 2023 06:58 AM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

We've all had "those" type of sales (listings) Ray Henson and I am thankful your sellers stayed with you to the end and that you made the deal come together.  A Win Win for everyone.  Hey, are you licensed in AZ yet?  Plans for that in the future?  Just curious.  Hoping to see you, Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker and Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ and maybe we can add a few more AZ agents.

Apr 16, 2023 04:56 PM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Thank you, Diana Dahlberg.  It did work out in the end, but it was a challenge.

Yes, I do believe that I will get an AZ license.  My wife has been hinting that it is time! 

Apr 17, 2023 09:15 AM
Diana Dahlberg

Great!  I hope you do!

Apr 17, 2023 09:17 AM