Active Rain September 22, 2010

Want to Sell? Stop Trying So Hard


Carol Culkin, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person recently, wrote a very thoughtful post on listing agent-accompanied showings that prompted me to finish and revise a draft I had. We work the same market, and my thoughts are for Westchester County, New York and the Hudson Valley. Your results may vary. 

The idea of having the listing agent present in my view is the fallacy that the harder the listing agent “tries” in some cases, the more likely the house is to sell. The root of that fallacy is that some people think we pocket the whole commission while not really working too hard for it. We talk a little, take some photos, wait, someone else brings an offer, we take our cut. Voila. 

Therefore, these sellers want the agent to be on showings, jumping up and down “selling” the house to the buyers; pimping the 3 year old furnace, the landscaping, the radiant heat under the sun room floor (look Mom, no baseboards!) and so forth. These people do not understand how to sell. They do not understand what motivates buyers in this economy to make buying decisions. And it isn’t because we “try hard.”

  • People don’t buy the house because the listing agent was informative. They buy it because it feels like home. 
  • People don’t buy a home because the listing agent tried harder. They buy it because it feels like home. 
  • People don’t buy a home because the listing agent was able to pounce on their questions and give rapid, granular answers. They buy it because it feels like home. 
Let them walk through the house with their own agent, their own thoughts, and on their own terms. Think of it as a dressing room where the buyer is trying it on and wants privacy. Make sure there is a fact sheet that has the things that don’t meet the naked eye, and when they do have questions (GOOD- Buying signal), then you put on the dog show. If there are no questions and no offers, the home is overpriced. Sorry. Read the papers. We’re sliding down Vaseline hill, and there is no speech you can make in the kitchen to stop that tide from lowering. 
What some sellers do not understand is that “Effort” does not sell homes. Know-how sells homes. If “Effort” sold homes, then harder working stock brokers would get more money for stock, harder working, better talking car salespeople would get more money for their cars, and so forth. It doesn’t work that way. If the home is not priced at the price point your know-how suggests, the seller remains the high bidder and keeps the commodity. 
In some markets like Manhattan, the listing agent is always there. Fine. Are you in Manhattan? Look, in Manhattan people hardly turn their head when a fire engine screams by. They can deal with a listing agent. They don’t mind a listing agent breathing down their neck because 10 minutes ago on the subway, a complete stranger was actually breathing down their neck. So Manhattan is different, and here in Westchester, people like their necks un-breathed upon. 
99% of my buyers truly prefer the seller and listing agent to stay away. Some feel stronger about it than others. That leaves 1% who like them there. If you think you are going after that 1% by having the agent present, what you are doing is giving yourself a 99% probability of failing.