How not to sell your house

2 – Don’t call the Realtor with qualified buyers back for nine hours.
3 – Don’t allow the house to be shown until after 5pm.

The above are two reasons that unrepresented sellers frequently have a harder time selling their properties. The reason is simple – the sellers work during the day. What did we, the Realtor and the buyers do? Moved on to the other seven competing listings … with at least seven more to go. The property is going to have to be mighty special and unique to make us alter our schedules.

In a buyers’ market (which we’re in, if you didn’t know) – I advise my sellers to do (almost) whatever it takes to get buyers through their house. You just never know when the “right” buyer is going to walk through the door.

At some point, one must ask – how much is my time worth?

1 – Overprice it.

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12 Comments

  1. Scott February 27, 2008 at 13:01

    No offense, but for a home purchase, which isn’t an impulse buy on the same scale as, say, a new sofa, it seems to me that if a seller gets #1 right, then #2 & #3 won’t trouble the buyer or certainly their transaction-hungry agent very much.

    Now that it takes more than just a pulse to get a loan (ie, a downpayment), and therefore truly qualified buyers are scarce (and their ability to qualify is strongly coupled to price), there aren’t so many deals moving. Realtors actually have to do stuff, like, you know, keep regular hours, make appointments, etc. I’d say the agents have as much interest in accommodating a seller capable of offering realistic pricing as they do in accommodating anyone else in the deal. Houses are just sitting there because sellers either won’t or can’t lower prices – self representation has little to nothing to do with it. There are far more broker/agent signs out there than FSBOs right now.

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  2. Florida Realtor February 27, 2008 at 15:29

    This is kind of funny (I try to find humor in everything), but not at the same time. I think all of us, who are working as Realtors in the areas that have been hit hard by this “crash” are experiencing some of these issues.

    Price is and always has been a major factor is making that sale. Problem is in todays market in many areas, the seller owes more than the house is worth, therefore can not lower the price.

    Reality is that most people do work, and if for whatever reason we can’t get in to show it, then yeah, alter your schedule…we are Realtors right? I mean, if you expect to make all of your sales during the 9-5 work day then you may have some issues coping with a realistic real estate market.

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  3. Matthew Rathbun February 27, 2008 at 15:36

    Many buyers fall in love with the house that they see within six seconds of pulling up into the yard. Once a client is in love with a house, it puts an automatic distaste in their mouth for other homes. It’s human nature. If my client has taken the day off of work to go see houses during the day, then that’s just what they want to do. Any physical barriers to seeing a home is going to translate to a subconscious barrier to buying one.

    Why Sellers think Buyer Agents are sub-human and not entitled to being at home with their families at a reasonable hour is beyond me!

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  4. Jim Duncan February 27, 2008 at 15:54

    Scott –

    You’d have to do more than disagree with me to offend me. 🙂

    I used an unrepresented seller in this case because it was fresh. Sellers who have restricted hours generally get less traffic. Period. Less traffic = less interest = less likelihood of an offer.

    I certainly agree that Realtors have to work harder now, but so do sellers. Buyers, too – they have to look at more houses, all of which generally qualify as “good things” in my book.

    My schedule is generally flexible so as to accommodate my clients.

    However – if there are 10 very comparable houses in generally the same location, and one is more difficult to show than the others, the one that is more difficult to show will probably not have as high a chance of selling in a timely fashion, nor for as high of a price.

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  5. Rob February 27, 2008 at 16:02

    I agree with the comments from the others, but we are forgetting one thing. Not everyone works 9- 5. This includes buyers. People work evenings and night shifts. Only allowing your home to be shown after 5 pm is limiting the amount of people that can see your home based on their potential work schedule. Price does have the most to do with selling and there is no doubt in my mind that it will get sold, but why limit yourself to get it sold in the fastest amount of time?

    If a seller doesn’t see that as something that is potential hurftul to the sale, then the seller is probably not that motivated and is most likely not offering the home at a price to move. From my experience and what I have seen #1 and #2 tend to go hand in hand. If the buyer’s agent is good at what they do #3 shouldn’t ever matter

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  6. Daniel Rothamel February 27, 2008 at 16:36

    #1 is King. That is why it is #1. Of course, #2 and #3 are just as important, on an individual basis. We tell all of our clients not to restrict the selling hours of their home unless their is a VERY good reason to do so. Same thing with “appointment only.” Sure, if every home in your price range is being shown this way, it is fine; but if not, the seller is going to have a problem.

    The best buyer agents in the world are not going to force their clients to look at a house. If the seller turns down the showing, there is a better than average chance that the buyer will never return. In many instances, there is just too much inventory for a buyer to care or even remember.

    The issues you mention certainly are not confined to unrepresented listings, but access to agents is one major consideration to make. It is similar to unrepresented listings in gated communities. What good is FSBO sign if only the neighbors can see it? Representation sometimes has benefits that are not obvious to those who do not sell homes for a living.

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  7. Jeff Edmisten February 28, 2008 at 06:37

    Jim,

    You are completely dead on with ALL three issues. I have to utterly disagree with comment #1 above. Unless that house is an EXTREMELY great price or unique property, most buyers move on and forget about it. There are WAY too many other homes to choose from. It has been quite some time since I had a buyer go back to a home, once we were refused entry. They simply have too many homes that they have to eliminate to narrow down their search, and the seller just made this decision for them… we couldn’t see it, it is now eliminated.

    The “transaction hungry agent” comment makes no sense either, because if I am showing them homes, they are likely buying a home with me, and remember we have LOTS of homes to choose from. We will find a home that fits their needs, that we can get in to see with our schedule and that is priced right.

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  8. Scott February 28, 2008 at 13:31

    So, a follow-up:

    – I’m not a REALTOR, don’t play one on TV, and never have; I have worked in the industry.

    – I haven’t used a REALTOR (or any representation) for my past two deals; I used dual-agency before that (Jim, you will be entertained given your many recent posts on the subject, if you haven’t figured that – who – out already), but only because the house already had an agent – in fact, that’s the only time I’ve used representation.

    – I have dealt in foreclosures.

    I mention these things only to make the disclosure that I’m not typical and I have biases.

    My Points are:

    – If Price is “King”, then the other things *aren’t* equal. Price *is* more important. Yes, many sellers cannot really re-price appropriately. Their lenders would rather go to foreclosure (then REO) than allow a short sale. Price is key. An over-priced house will not move, no matter how flexible the “showing options” are.

    – Jeff: if you have clients who can qualify for the $250k but not the $350k home, you will alter *your* schedule to show them the $250k 6-9PM only FSBO with the scary cat lady, rather than the unoccupied lock-box $350k home. Because it’s not worth your time (or theirs) to show them a property they won’t be able to close on anyway. Remember, the days of the 80/20 piggyback 100% financing are over; most buyers don’t just have an extra $20k lying around to increase the down-payment (assuming an 80%LTV – which is rapidly becoming reality). It will be worth your time, as Jim put it, to take up part of your evening.

    I’d certainly agree that if price and everything else are equal, the FSBO loses nearly every time.

    Having said all that: I have to agree that many FSBOs are really just idiots and have no idea what they’re getting themselves into. They have totally unrealistic expectations – particularly with regard to showings – and are generally unrealistic about price too. I’ve encountered that as an unrepresented buyer.

    My point is only that, to quote a broker I knew well, with every deal, “it’s just a matter of dollars”.

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  9. Gooby February 28, 2008 at 16:22

    It’s all very well to have your home available at the drop of a dime, but my home has been on the market for 8 months. I have had about 5 viewings and supposedly everyone loved it. Then you never hear back from them. I have given my agent orders that NO ONE walks into the house without proof that they can afford to buy it. I’m sick of nosy neighbors and looky lous. If people can’t afford to buy it, then I don’t want their butts in my home. It’s an inconvenience and I’m tired. Realtors should be more selective as to who they show houses to. Otherwise they are wasting the sellers time AND their own gasoline/time!

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  10. Jeff Edmisten February 28, 2008 at 21:21

    Well stated Scott. I guess my point was in this market, there are very few price ranges in which we are fighting to see a home. Instead, we are fighting to not see 100+ homes. So, my clients usually move on and forget the ones we could not get into, when they were ready to look

    I am not sure what part of what I said that made you think I said it was not worth my time, or that I wouldn’t alter my schedule. I was TRULY referring to most buyers I deal with. They decide that the seller wasn’t interested in getting the home sold. If it is best for my client, I will make the time.

    Now, with that said. In a different market, where we are not trying to narrow down to a manageable number of properties to see, then you are absolutely correct. We make a 2nd, 3rd, etc. attempt to see the home.

    Thank you for the direct reply to my comment.

    Reply
  11. Mark February 28, 2008 at 22:56

    Gooby:

    If only 5 people have been through your home in 8 months, one of two things is probable:

    1. Your agent did a lousy job on the listing (bad/not enough photos, for example).
    2. It’s overpriced.

    How can you be tired and inconvenienced after an average of .6 showings a month, anyway?

    I sold my house in Northern Va, and we had 2-3 showings per week for about 6 weeks. With 2 kids ad a pregnant wife, that is a hassle. But if you want to sell your house you gotta do it.

    Fire your agent or drop your price!

    Reply
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