Active Rain December 22, 2008

Information Overload Kills Sales

With rare exception, buying decisions are made for emotional reasons. Overwhelming a prospective buyer with lots of data in a showing will typically talk them out of, rather than into, making an offer.

Understandably, many sellers have put years of effort and money into keeping their home in good condition. They have upgraded, added on, improved and enhanced. They are justifiably proud. And that 47-point checklist of improvements and updates is valuable… at the right time. When is the right time? I’ll tell you when the wrong time is: 30 seconds after the buyers walk in. Given the slower market, many of us are taking listings which were previously with another company, and I often hear how the prior agent didn’t “push” the house enough. Often, they’ll only list with someone who pledges to sell it their (as the seller’s) way. That shouldn’t be the time to make a blanket pledge, it is a training moment. I sell my way. That isn’t arrogant, it is the voice of experience. Most lay people don’t know how people make their buying decision. It is my job to tell them.

Listing agents (or, worse, sellers who are there for the showing) who blather on about copper piping, the fireplace heatilater, artesian well, closet organizers and the arcane rationale of why they removed the linen closet in 1994 to enlarge the master bath, forget that if the place doesn’t feel like home, then they are wasting their breath. All too often, I’ll leave a showing after the agent or owner’s soliloquy and hear my buyer say “so THAT’s why it has been on the market so long.”

That’s how the information tsunami works on most buyers. There is the odd match made in Heaven when the buyer is a forensic CPA who is obsessed with statistics. But for the rest of us, the pitch is counterproductive. Just let them walk through and try the place on. Let the buyer agent do their job. And when they leave, hit them with the Magna Carta improvement handout. But for the initial showing, less is almost always more.

Remember, questions are buying signals. If they ask about the fireplace, tell them about the heatilater. Just remember that where you might see a upgraded chimney lining retrofitted for a stove insert with a state of the art blower which harnesses the heat that might otherwise go straight up the flue, I see myself and my wife with a bottle of wine. Same fireplace.

People buy homes because they feel like home and they formulate their choices of showings with basic criteria. Barraging them with information does not build value, it actually destructs the emotion that goes into making a buying decision. Sellers need to understand that. And they also need to get a cup of coffee down the street for showings.