The Myth of Needing a Real Estate “Salesperson”
I spoke with a homeowner that is selling his home For Sale By Owner. While it’s only been 2 weeks since he put his house up for sale on Zillow, he has not gotten traction. Upon further discussing his house, he revealed to me has had his home listed with two different agents in the last three years. He explained to me that neither agent was very motivated to sell his home, and that for whatever reason, his house just isn’t selling.
He has done lots of upgrades, is willing to fix most items that could appear during the repair phase, and pay a buyer’s closing costs. He’s even willing to pay nearly $20,000 in agent commissions. But what he’s not willing to do – after 3 years of trying to sell his house – is reduce his house price. He thinks his house should sell for more because of what it offers, even though there are no comparable homes sales to support this. It’s close to a half a million dollar home, which can make pricing that much more subjective than objective. Remember, an appraisal is simply an “opinion of value,” so whether it’s valuing a property – whether it be to list for sale, to assess for tax purposes, and determine replacement costs – is never going to be an exact science.
I get the sense that seller, who is willing to do almost anything to sell the house, just does not want to feel like he’s getting ripped off; he wants to know he’s getting fair market value, which is completely understandable. However, what he fails to consider is the following: what is fair market value? His idea of fair and a buyer’s idea of fair apparently are two different worlds apart. And from a brief overview of his property, he’s probably a good $35,000 over priced. Again, even using the words “over priced” is subjective, but in this case, he is over priced.
This seller has been told for more than 1,000 days (really incredible when you think about it), that he wants too much for his house. We’ve been in a pretty hot market the last couple of years, too. The market has responded to him, and the market is telling him, “Hey, I like your house, but not for that much.” The seller is not listening to feedback from the market; rather, he has doubled down and sunk more money into the property.
After nearly 20 minutes of learning about his problems, I learned that I can’t help. He explained to me that he has met with several agents and what he really needs is a good salesman. A good salesman, he said, knows how to talk to buyers, knows how to address concerns of buyers, and will ultimately be the reason the house will sell. His reason for listing the house on Zillow on his own was to “try something different” but that he would list with an agent eventually if it did not sell. The distraught seller also acknowledged something most home sellers do – he felt comfortable with the agent with whom he’s going to list with.
I do understand the idea of being “comfortable” with someone who will be your right hand man selling your house. Everyone has their own version of “comfortable.” For me, it would be a combination of past results, knowledge, and sound reviews from past clients.
For this seller, it did not sound like any of that. It sounded like he actually was the person being sold, for a third time, by a real estate agent. And so while selling his house is supposed to be the top priority, it became clear to me that the real top priority was for this seller to have someone who would listen to him, do what he wants, and provide him with a sense of comfort when selling his house.