Perhaps the price is wrong. Perhaps the sellers aren’t willing to make a few repairs or improvements. Perhaps the whole market is dead. Regardless of the reason for your listing failing to sell, it’s your job as an agent to manage your clients expectations so that they remain happy with YOU even though they may not be happy with the traction their listing is receiving.
1. Don’t let them be surprised. The first step to ensuring that you keep your sellers happy when their home isn’t selling is to set their expectations up front for potential difficulties they may face once they enter the market.
- Be honest with your estimation of value - I tell my sellers “by giving you my honest opinion of your home’ value, I can sleep at night. I would love to sell it for more and I hope it does. But I know you’d want me to be straight with you rather than tell you what you want to hear, right?"
- Inform them what needs repaired, improved, staged, etc - I don’t want to be the bad guy in this relationship so I hire a stager to do a 2 hour consultation and deliver any critical feedback to improve the property. I let the stager address the bad smell, the cleanliness, and tribute to Elvis throughout the home.
2. Be proactive with communication. The worst feeling in the world is having your seller call you 30 days into the listing to ask why they haven’t heard from you and to get an update on their listing. When I first started selling real estate, this happened to me a lot. I’d fumble through an update and always recommend a price reduction. This was bad, bad, bad. I realized that it was important that I reach out to THEM before they can reach out to me.
- Let them know up front when to expect to hear from you. At the listing appointment, I inform them that I will be in touch with an update every two weeks. This goes back to setting expectations.
- Prepare a professional update. I send out a report through http://infogr.am highlighting the showing activity, hit count from the various websites and portals, comparable new listings, pendings and solds that have occurred since the last update and finally my comments and recommendations moving forward.
3. Don’t always drop the price. By doing a professional marketing report every two weeks, you can identify the best course of action moving forward. Agents have a natural tendency to drop the price when a home isn’t selling, but I’ve learned over time that dropping the price is not always the answer.
- Grease the hands of the agent. Rather than take $2000 off of the sales price, it may be more effective to apply that $2000 towards a real estate agent commission bonus. If an agent can generate an additional 30% income by selling your home verses another, you might find a pick up in traffic and a desperate agent convincing their clients to purchase your home.
- Improve the home mid-listing. If you are getting constant complaints about the carpet or paint, don’t simply drop the price by $10,000, but instead install new carpet or paint. Since generating traffic isn’t likely your problem, focus on improving the showing experience.
- Offer a Buyer Incentive. Offer closing costs, decorating allowance, new countertops, etc. If you present to buyers that you are flexible with potential improvements, you’ll increase your chances receiving an offer.
The best way to avoid the hardship that comes with handling a slow listing is to sell quickly (obviously). The quicker the sale, the more leverage your seller has throughout the closing process. But since it doesn’t always work out this way, hopefully the tips above will help you create your listing process so that you can ensure the best experience for your clients in a slow or difficult market. If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear about them below.
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