Active Rain August 1, 2011

Why Won’t the Agents Showing my House Say Something?

What kind of a welcome mat are you? As Yogi Berra says, you can see an awful lot by watching. And as a broker who oversees 20+ agents, 50+ listings and who still works in the field with select buyers, I do see both sides of an issue that sellers often bring up in the discussion of listing and selling their house. 

Many of the people who list their home for sale with me already experienced failure with a prior broker. They often tell me in our preliminary interview that they were frustrated with the lack of “selling” they witnessed with the agents who showed their home when they came by. Why they were even home to see this in the first place is a post for another day-suffice to say the folks aren’t free to speak with the owner 2 feet away. The question itself speaks to the need consumers have for education and understanding as to how homes are chosen and bought. 

“The agents who show the home just walk through and hardly say anything about the house. Don’t they want to make a sale? Why aren’t they pushing for a sale?”

To understand the fallacious underpinnings of the question, you first have to understand the process a 2011 buyer goes through in the selection of a home. They don’t want to be “sold.” This isn’t a home-o-matic that comes with free steak knives if you act now. This is a six figure decision in an unreliable economy that will house their family. And owners or agents who follow them around the home tour peppering them with data about the storage under the stairs, an anecdote about the wall oven, and dozens of other well meaning tidbits are viewed as a distraction and nuisance

Buyer agents who are not talkative are not ignorant about the house. They aren’t talkative because they do know their buyer clients. Rather than seeing a home tour as a sales pitch, it is better to view it as a dressing room or a library. They are studying it. They are taking it in. They are soaking in it. They are seeing if it fits them. They are assessing how they look in it. And that’s hard to do with someone in your space the whole time.

If it feels like home, they’ll ask questions or gladly take a data sheet with a list of all those improvements and enhancements the owner wanted to ram down their throat in the first 15.8 seconds they walked in. If it doesn’t feel like home, no list will matter– it is off the list. Just imagine how little clothing a store would sell if the sales staff followed you into the dressing room and yapped about the pleats. How intrusive and unsettling would that be? 

Most homes sell themselvesA smart buyer agent therefore lets the buyer client go through the very personal process of understanding the house in as pressure free a manner as possible, selecting what to say carefully tailored to their clients needs as they see them apply through the home. They aren’t not trying to sell. Quite the contrary. They know that doing what a biased, emotional un-trained homeowner does will foil a sale. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Homeowners are wise to not be present for showings. And mandating that a listing agent accompany showings as their proxy is a bad idea in most cases also. Let the buyer agent do their job. If you are an owner and you have a pitch you feel works for the house, write it up and print it for the buyer to take with them so they can reference it quietly, at their own pace, and without pressure on their own terms. Homes are bought, not sold. If it doesn’t feel like home in the first place, you’ll never talk them into buying. 

Let the buyer try it on and see how it fits in peace. Let them study it without noise. Stay out of the way. My results say this is the way to go.