Agents often lose listings when going through the pre-listing tour with a seller. Even if the seller has asked for feedback and recommendations, they can become either overwhelmed or offended when the agent tells them the truth.
At your future listing appointments, be very careful with what you say as you tour the property with the homeowner. Be complimentary in a sincere way, noting the improvements that you know they are proud of, and complimenting them when appropriate.
If they ask what you recommend they do to prepare the home, do not jump in with helpful suggestions. Instead, revert to clarifying questions.
“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, may I ask, do you prefer to sell the property ‘as is’ or would you be willing to do some work to prepare the property for sale if you thought it would net you a higher value?”
If they prefer to sell as is:
“I understand, and I will keep that in mind as we review the data and properties we will be competing against. This will allow me to help you select the highest realistic price that the home will sell for in ‘as is’ condition.”
If they say they might be willing to do some things to be able to sell for a higher price:
“Perfect, that is great to know. In today’s market, condition is critical to assure we net you the highest realistic price possible.”
“With your permission, I would like to reserve my comments and recommendations until we complete our walkthrough of the home. Then, once we sit down together and review your expectations of the net you want to achieve and the timeline by when you want to move, we can discuss what we need to do to make that happen. ”
“In fact, at the end of our meeting today, once we list the home, I will go out front with you and do another curb-to-curb walkthrough, just to ensure we note anything I may have missed on this first tour. Does that sound good to you?”
“If there are repairs, improvements or staging that we decide it makes sense to do, I will help you locate quality vendors and assist in coordinating any work that you decide to do, all as part of my service at no additional charge to you.”
Now that you have completed your tour and are at the table discussing the condition of the home, remember that they like to shoot the messenger. Even though they asked you for your opinion, they may still be easily offended by your comments.
Once again, it is best to be careful about the statements you make and instead revert to another clarifying question.
“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, tell me please, what is it that you feel the buyer might try to use against us in the negotiations?”
If you say it, they think you are trashing their property. If they are the ones to say it, they don’t get mad!
Once they tell you what the buyer might not like about the home, you can assure them you will do your best to fight for them to overcome any buyer objections and to locate the right buyer who will appreciate the property.
If they aren’t listing today, but ask for a list of your vendors to begin work to prepare the home for a future sale date, here is what you can say:
“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, I would be happy to not only share my list of vendors with you, but to also help you arrange and coordinate the work once the home is listed. The vendors I work with request that I am involved in the arrangement of estimates and services because it makes it easier for them to get the job done more efficiently. If you would like to go ahead and sign our initial agreement to work together, then I can go to work for you right away! We can execute the proper paperwork that my local board of REALTORS® requires, which will allow me to hold it off the market until you are ready to begin. Let’s take just five minutes and get our agreement signed now so that I can go to work for you.”
I understand that at times you may be forced to give up your vendors to them, but do so carefully because too often they use the vendors the agent recommends and don’t use the agent.
If possible, keep the conversation about the work to the home light until the listing is signed and then do what you promised you would do. Start at the front of the property and walk through with them, thoroughly discussing what you recommend they do based on the price that they selected.
Now that they have hired you, they are more likely to listen, and you can be more direct because you have the agreement in hand.
Also an added bonus, if they are not receptive to what you recommend and you feel the price is too high for the current condition, you can have a price adjustment conversation right on the spot before you even put the home on the market.
If you need help, talk to us and we will help you. We have the pleasure of working with some of the brightest and best agents in the real estate industry across the nation. Go to www.ForwardCoaching.com/consult/ to book your complimentary session.
Wish I had read this 9 months ago. I spent months helping a woman get her house ready, coordinated vendors, suggested the price. She listed with someone else and it sold very near ask in 13 days. Painful lesson, for sure.
Great advice! I like the way you worded it that “based on what they are looking to net…” Because yes, people can and do get offended by “suggestions” whether they are asked for or not.
Very informative article. People do become offended if you are not tactful.
I have sent listings to my prospective sellers to show them how “homes for sale” look on the internet. That will give them the visuals they need to understand what I am telling them about the condition of their home. Here in my market, listings sell if they are light & bright, clean and rather bare of personal and decorating items.
I agree with everything the article states. I’m a Realtor/Stager and stage mostly all of my homes. They sell faster and for more money then those that aren’t. I show them “before and after” pictures of houses Staged and I’m very confident when I speak. If they don’t want to do anything and demand top dollar, I have the choice to not take the listing. My favorite sayings are: “You can’t sell your house the way you live in it!” “You’re moving anyways, so start packing!” “Your home becomes a house which becomes a product for the consumer to buy, we need to make it appealing to the general public so they can visualize themselves in your home!” “Do you want me to tell you what your WANT to hear or what you NEED to hear?” “How bad do you want to sell?” “You only have one chance for a good impression!” Most Sellers appreciate the honesty.
I like Karen Cormier’s reply. I just had a client in her late 80’s who lives in the house her and her late husband built with permits in the 1980’s as a designer home. Now some 35 years later, that same home is in need of major upgrades and she couldn’t understand why I wanted to list it so low, of course based on my CMA and knowledge of the location. The long end is she wanted to list it for what she has “SEEN” properties sell for without walking through those properties and understanding the difference with hers and those. In her locale, the average sell was $1.4 mil. Her property needed over $225,000 in repairs AND upgrades to get a sniff of a buyer, but she wanted to list it at 1.8Mil because of the sweat equity that she and her family put into the property. I walked away from the deal after weeks of assisting her with removing personal effects and selling items on the internet for her. She stated that she wanted to use another agent that understood what she “wanted” contrary to my suggestions of what was realistic. No harm, no foul.
Great article! I have a potential listing on the way, and I needed the correct words to communicate with the sellers when we sit down to discuss the listing price.
One of the comments remarked that staged homes sell faster and for more money than homes that are not staged. While this may be true I am unaware of any statistical data to support that claim and consider it critically important that we as Realtors lean into market data and not fall in to the habit of using anecdotal jargon when discussing staging. If there is empirical data please let me know where to find it!