I spend most of my written capital giving advice to buyers. I tell them when it’s a good time to buy, when it’s the right house to buy, when they should pay attention. I also tell them when someone bought something right, and I tell them when someone bought something so horribly wrong. As an aside, I should tell you that if I say I don’t like something very much, that’s code for “I hate it”. I tell sellers, too, when they should be in the market, when they should pay attention to pricing, and when they should seize selling opportunities. I do all of these things here, often times hidden between lots of rambling.
One thing I rarely discuss is the business of selling, and more precisely, a sellers relationship with their agent. Over the weekend, I found myself in a familiar position. It’s familiar but it isn’t necessarily welcome, as I spend a significant portion of my time talking to would be sellers and talking to already sellers. Already sellers are the sort that have a property for sale with Joe Blow Broker, and they’re looking for a change. They ask me for a meeting, and I oblige, because I’m that sort of fella.
These sellers ask me, in direct ways that they might not feel comfortable asking their already broker, why isn’t their home selling. They ask me what’s wrong. They ask me why, given their granite counters and their new paint in the guest bathroom, their home refuses to sell. It’s the broker, they assume, and they are, many times, simply looking for validation that someone else can do this job better. While it’s true that I’m certain I can represent a buyer’s best interests better than anyone else on this earth, and it’s true that I can best agents in negotiations with alarming consistency, there is one secret about selling a home that I’m going to share with you now: There is no secret.
I’ve spent too much of my life trying to convince people to work with me. It’s exhausting, really. If I must tell you the truth, this business is a race and it’s as competitive as any business ever was. Some listing agents thrive on telling you what they do better, and how they are different. It’s true that narratives are unique to individual agents, and sales skills are extremely wide ranging, with some agents possessing lots of selling skills and most others possessing very, very little of that skill. But hey, that agent’s mom’s hair dresser said they’re tops, so that’s good enough.
Because I’m a bit jaded, and my form of jade encourages brutal honestly, I can tell you the secrets about listing side representation. I’ve already told you, as I told that nice seller over the weekend, that there’s no secret. No proprietary blend that causes instant selling success, no formula that can be universally applied to yield tremendous results. There is, instead, a process to consider. The first insider’s secret is that as long as your agent is proficient, and some form of top producing agent within your market segment, that agent is likely good enough to represent you and your house, and they’ll get it sold. But they don’t call you back within 45 minutes of leaving them a message? Who cares.
See, brutal honesty. The truth about agents is that the successful ones are pulled in many different directions by equally deserving customers. If you want an agent that specializes in hand holding, that agent will likely not be great at actually selling real estate. As a seller, you have a decision to make. Do you want to work with someone who desperately wants to be your friend, on Facebook and in life, or do you want to work with an agent that’s actually really good at selling real estate? They are, generally, not the same person. Do you want an agent that sends you birthday cards or one that sells a ton of real estate?
Outside of the individual sales skills, brokers typically follow very similar paths of advertising and marketing properties. Why do we all do the same thing? Because we know what works, on account of this being our day jobs. So if one agent markets their homes in the Lake Geneva Regional News, and one does not, does that matter to you? Well, maybe check to see which agent sells more real estate in your target market. If the Regional News advertiser sells more, go with them. If they don’t sell more, but they list more, because Realtors advertise in local print to attract sellers and not buyers, then go with the agent who is proven by their results, not the quality of their glamor shot.
Lastly, if you’re a seller, and you want to sell your property, please don’t make your Realtor hate you. While there is cause to believe that beatings may improve morale, I’m here to tell you that they don’t. If I have two sellers that I’m working for, and they have similar properties, it stands to reason that I’d like to sell both of them. I’ll work to sell both of them. But one seller is kind and pleasant and the other is demanding and rude. Which seller do I feel a great obligation to help? The one who insists that they know more about selling real estate than I do, because they once sold a duplex in Schaumburg AND their mother’s home in Boca, or the one who trusts me and knows I’m doing my very best to sell their home? It’s rhetorical, as usual.
All that to say, sellers, do your best to list with an agent who has a proven record of proficiency in your individual market segment. If they don’t call you every Tuesday just because it’s sunny out, don’t worry about it. They don’t give you feedback right after a showing? Then assume there is no interest and the buyer hated your granite counters and your guest bathroom pain. If they don’t send you birthday cards, don’t worry a bit about that. They’ll sell your house, because that’s the goal every single day.