Is telling the truth in real estate all it's cracked up to be? Remember the classic scene from "A few Good Men" when Jack Nicholson (as Col. Jessep) shouts at Tom Cruise( as Kaffee ) "You can’t handle the truth! " in response to Kaffe's request :"I want the truth! ". Are real estate sellers now similar to Kaffe? They want the truth but "They can't handle it!!".
To be clear: I completely reject the warning of this post title. l will continue to tell the truth, no matter what. And I am learning valuable lessons from this experience.
I recently "lost" several perspective clients on account of them not liking my message.
This is what happened in a nutshell. Mr. X contacted me to sell their house in town A. The sellers believed their house was a high end property. We discussed the market and I showed them the statistics indicating:
- There was only one sale of $2,000,000+ in this town.
- There were many more sales in this price range in the neighboring town B.
- I explained that when real estate buyers evaluate where to buy, preservation of capital and risk management are part of the consideration. Although for the same money in town B buyers could get less then in town A, if buyers view town B as a safer investment, they may choose to buy there.
- Mr. X indicated there was no financial pressure for them to sell. I suggested to hold off on the sale for a few years and rent the property in the meantime.
- If they wanted to sell now I suggested things that could be done to make the house look better.
Truth telling did not bode well for me in getting this listing.This information was interpreted as me being negative about their town and their house. I am not sure if a real estate agent with "Better" news about luxury real estate in town A was received better.
I made a rule at the start of my career as real estate agent in Princeton area to tell my clients the bad and the good of the real estate market - as I see it. This knowledge, I thought, is:
- Why sellers should pay money to a real estate agent;
- What should help them price their home right from the outset;
- Market it in a way that beats competition;
- Negotiate the best selling price;
- Deal with many problems that invariably come up during the selling process.
I was proven wrong.
Why do I still insist on telling the truth? I am content with my old rule, even if on occasion I may "lose" some business, because:
- The stakes are too high when buying or selling real estate to sugar coat what is happening.
- It is not productive to repeat the gloom and doom scenarios offered by the media, if that is not what is going on in the local market.
- The only way to deliver useful information to buyers and sellers is for the agent to know the facts on the ground.
Get smart by knowing exactly where you stand in this market. Only then could you make the right decisions. That's my best advice for the real estate buyers and sellers now.
Not surprisingly, my clients are the smartest of them all. To get the best deal or to sell at the best price, they are not "afraid to handle the truth" .