How brutally honest are you with your Sellers?

Real Estate Agent with Edina Realty

Do you tell them there is an unpleasant odor in their house, and you're not sure what it is.  But it isn't good.  Let's find out what it is, and get rid of it before we list.

Do you tell them the hardware on the cabinetry gives the kitchen an outdated look, and for a few hundred dollars or less they could update the room?

Do you tell them the colors on the walls need to be changed.  Neutral earthy tones will completely change the look and feel of the room.

Do you tell them where they need to be priced to sell?

Sellers are looking for guidance.  They do not know what color their walls should be, or that they can get an updated look for as little as a few hundred dollars, or where they need to be priced to sell in this market.

Be brutally honest with your Sellers, because they are counting on you.


Comments (26)

Paula Swayne
Dunnigan, Realtors, Sacramento (916) 425-9715 - Sacramento, CA
Realtor-Land Park, East Sac & Curtis Park -Dunniga

Actually, I don't tell them...I let the stager I recommend tell them.  If you have a good one, they know how to do it tactfully...something I am not very good at.  My clients expect the stager to tell them things that need to be done, so even bad news is expected.  The stager then calls me with the recommendations, so I can back the things that need doing.  It is a win-win.

Dec 16, 2008 02:20 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Paula - Whether it comes from the stager or the Realtor isn't really my point, but thanks for the comment.  We both agree the Seller needs to be informed.

Dec 16, 2008 02:26 PM
Rob Oryl
Valuation Nation - Haddonfield, NJ


Honesty is always the best policy. I've heard many stories of perfectly fine homes not selling because of an odor. The stories are usually pretty funny, but the houses don't sell, many people waste too much time and everyone misses out. Thanks for being the honest one. Best of luck.


Rob Oryl


Dec 16, 2008 02:35 PM
Karen Monsour
Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
REALTOR, SSRS - Sells FL Waterfront, Short Sale Expert!


I just had to call the daughter of a customer today (she is also a RE agent in another state) and tell her that the odor in her father's house was horrible...Open the window's...its Florida and the air is fresh. No way would anyone even be able to get into that condo...let alone breathe...I was there for an hour the other day and I was nauseated when I left.

Dec 16, 2008 02:41 PM
Kim Hamblin
Bella Casa Real Estate Group - McMinnville, OR

I agree that it's a great idea to tell them the flaws/fixes with their houses.  I just learned how valuable a stager can be for those clients who are exceptionally sensitive (99% of them when it comes to their house and their color choice!) 

My clients wouldn't listen to me, so I brought in a third party.  We talked ahead of time and I told her about the clients and she looked at the pics of the house.

I think it's also a good idea to give them names of a helpful contractor to help.  Mnay stagers can do this for your clients too.

Dec 16, 2008 04:28 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Rob - Many homeowners don't realize there is an odor in the house because they are just used to it.  It may be something as simple as a rug that got wet in the laundry room and molded.

Dec 17, 2008 01:44 AM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Karen - Nothing turns a buyer off more than a home with an odor.  It's best to get to the bottom of it and keep things fresh and pleasant.  What's even worse is when they spray a can of freshener to try to cover up the problem.  That only gags people.

Dec 17, 2008 01:47 AM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Kim - I agree with you; sometimes it's best to bring in a 3rd party.  Thanks for stopping by.

Dec 17, 2008 01:49 AM
Frank Bailey Sr.
Keller Williams Realty - Schertz, TX

Darla this a great post and I agree with you to the up-most.  You have to let the seller know what's wrong with the house.  Don't sugar coat it, they seek you to be the professional and tell them what they need to get the home ready, especially in this market.  We are the experts in this industry and need to act accordingly. 

Dec 17, 2008 02:43 PM
Jim Valentine
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Gardnerville, NV

For all the great things that I have learned about our business frimMike Fery, the best is, Show Up, Pay Attention, and Don;t be attached to the outcome.  Tell them like it is ...even if they don't list with yiou yiu have done the right thing!

Dec 18, 2008 12:50 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Frank - I couldn't agree with you more.  Do we go to the doctor and tell he or she what is wrong with us?  I don't think so.

Dec 18, 2008 02:42 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Jim - Listing interviews are a 2-way street.  We need to make good business decisions and certainly do not want to take on a career listing.  No thank you.

Dec 18, 2008 02:46 PM
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

I believe that if people are going to hire me to help them sell their house quickly and at the best price, then I need to be forthright with them and they need to trust me. Absent that, they need to find another Realtor.

Dec 20, 2008 10:53 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

I could not imagine not being honest with my Clients, but I would never be "brutally honest" because I think that term has a certain negative connotation to it. Part of being a Professional is having an appropriate "bedside manner" for the profession.

Best wishes for health, happiness, peace, and prosperity in 2009.

Dec 23, 2008 04:15 AM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Jim - I agree with your must-haves.  Trust, communication, and partnership.  Absolutely.

Dec 23, 2008 01:18 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Russel - I got my point across in the post.  You must be honest and guide your client.  If it doesn't look right, change it.  If it doesn't smell right, fix it.

Dec 23, 2008 01:21 PM
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

I can be honest, but also have to be very careful not to offend. I always preface my comments on what prospective buyers will say when they see the house -- so it would be buyers saying these things, not just me.

One of my friends was going through a divorce  (this was before I knew her). She relayed to me the story of when they engaged a realtor who proceeded to tell her everything that was wrong with her house, who rummaged through her house, saying to get rid of this (hide it, throw it away, give it away, etc), and to keep that. 

She said that in her state of mind and heart at that time, she was going through such an emotional upheaval that she thought that realtor overstepped her bounds and was insensitive. She would never recommend that realtor, and she even tried to get out of the listing contract at that time, but couldn't.

Dec 27, 2008 12:28 PM

Pacita - That is unfortunate.  Hopefully your friend's house sold.  I agree with you that there is a tactful way of going about it, and an untactful.  I prefer the tactful route.

Dec 28, 2008 03:48 AM
Cristal Drake
Prudential California Realty - Fullerton, CA
Realtor - Fullerton Real Estate

Hooray for honesty!  So many Realtors are not guiding their clients because they are so afraid!  People want us to help them. There is a nice way to say just about anything!

Jan 04, 2009 02:22 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Cristal:  Sellers expect us to be the expert in getting their property ready to sell.  I agree; it's all in the presentation.  We don't need to say, "Who picked these ugly colors for the walls?"  We are professionals, and can certainly handle it gently, if need be.

Jan 04, 2009 02:40 PM