Tag Archives: Sellers

Why I Worked For Free

Why I Worked For Free

And it was time well spent

Recently a man (let’s call him Joe) called me about possibly selling his house. He lives in a nice home which isn’t very old. Joe has been blessed with work and finances, which allowed him to pay off his mortgage. However, he had learned that a larger house, in another nice neighborhood, was being offered for sale privately. It was an older house, but had some newer items like roof and AC.

We talked at length, and had a great conversation. Afterwards, I thoroughly researched Joe’s existing house and sent detailed comparables, giving him an estimated price range within which I felt he could expect to list and sell the house. I also asked him to send me the address of the house he was considering so I could research it as well. He did so right away.

It turned out there was past history in the MLS on the other house. The most recent activity was when the person selling it had bought it themselves. I ran detailed comparables for the subdivision, as it had a good number of sales. That’s when the home’s asking price jumped out at me. I saw right away that the owner wanted an amount that was far higher than even the highest of the comparables. I looked deeper, and discovered that the price paid for the house by the owner put it in the top 5 most expensive houses in the subdivision, ever! At the time of purchase years before, it was the most expensive, by a large margin. Their current asking price was much higher than even that!

To be thorough, and check if other houses outside of the subdivision might support such a price, I carefully searched all of the surrounding area for similar homes. I took a long time, in order to be as accurate as possible. Even with this much larger data set, the asking price for this house was far above the comparables. In fact, the price paid by the owner to acquire the house still fell in the top tier of prices.

I had generated links to the comparables, along with tables showing statistics on both Joe’s existing house and the one he was considering. These went into an extremely detailed, lengthy email explaining all I had done.

In conclusion, I told Joe:

“My truthful and heartfelt advice is to stay put. You have a nice house that’s paid for, and moving to a much larger, older house means more cleaning, and higher taxes, maintenance, and energy costs, even if the house was priced correctly, which this one is NOT!

I’d be hard-pressed to recommend paying even what the owner paid for it when they bought it. I believe the owner overpaid, then unfortunately had to replace the roof and AC. As he said himself, he’s upside down. Keep in mind that it’s not up to you to bail him out of that situation! He and his agent should have looked at all this before making the purchase.

So, here I am talking myself out of a listing, but this is my honest advice. And honesty is how we do business!”

After reading all I had sent, I received a reply from Joe. In it he thanked me heartily for being so upfront with him, and for taking the time to carefully evaluate and advise him on such an important decision. He said he will keep our information handy, for future use.

I spent the better part of my day working hard on Joe’s potential sale and purchase. The end result was to advise that he NOT list his house, or buy the other one. Maybe one day we will do business with him, his family, or friends, but there are no guarantees. However, I had a great feeling, because while I may not see a dime because of Joe, I went to sleep that night knowing I had done my job, and served Joe’s best interests well. That, to us, is the only way to do things.

Don't "give" your listing away!

Don’t “give” your listing away!

Selling a house is serious business, and your needs come first.

If you or a family member were sick, would you:

A) Go to your friend’s son who just got his medical license?
B) Visit the nice old doctor you sort of know, whose practice is slow so he “needs the business”?
C) Get treated by the best, most qualified doctor available?

Of course the answer is C! You want the cure to occur quickly, reliably, and with a low risk of anything bad happening.

While selling a house is not the same as dealing with an illness, it is still usually the single biggest financial decision in a person’s life. As a seller, you are also a customer. You are paying a commission to an agent in order to purchase service, experience, marketing, and representation, with the goal being a fast and successful sale. You do not want any unexpected surprises or expenses, or to wait forever.

You’d think that with the stakes so high, sellers would always choose an agent carefully, and demand the very best. However, we’ve seen far too many instances where owners treat selling a house completely differently from when they seek any other professional service. Instead of acting in their own best interests, sellers sometimes feel an obligation to “give their listing” to an acquaintance, or someone brand-new, or someone whose business is slow, etc. It’s very strange, as such owners somehow overlook the fact that they are about to make an enormous step, one which affects every aspect of their lives. Yet for some odd reason, they forget this, and put their fate in the hands of someone based on a casual relationship, or pity, or guilt. We’ve met people who listed with someone simply because they were the first agent they spoke to, and “felt bad” for not using them. Selling a house is far too important to “give it” to someone based on emotions.

A prime example of why not to do so: Long ago, an old client of ours called to say he was in dire circumstances and REALLY needed to sell his house. He was quiet and apologetic, and said that he’d already told a part-time agent he knew that he’d list with him. He explained that he felt sorry for the agent, and wanted to “give him a shot”. The owner didn’t have much confidence in the agent, as he actually said he expected to be talking to us after his listing was up and the house wasn’t sold! Yet, he still listed with that agent.

The agent put only a brief description and less than 10 pictures on the listing. About half of the pictures were sideways, and the square footage of the house was wrong by a huge amount!

The house was beautiful, and in a desirable neighborhood, but months and months went by and it didn’t sell. We never heard from the owner again, so they obviously renewed their listing in spite of everything. Eventually the house sold, but only after more than an entire year had passed and the owner had reduced the price several times. The owner lost months of valuable time, and thousands of dollars, due to the extra notes they had to pay and the price drops they had to make because of poor representation.

Selling your house is not a charity prize, to be given away to just anyone based on emotions. It is a huge event in your life, with far reaching and long lasting effects. There is considerable potential for things to go wrong, so it is crucial to have someone with the skills, knowledge, and experience to handle your sale, avoid the problems, and bring about a successful closing.