If you get offended easily, this may not be the right article for you to read. May we instead suggest this article.
I don’t understand why we’re not getting any offers….
The age old lament of FSBO sellers, and usually the same age old reasons.
#1. It’s often the price. No, they just know they got it priced right. After all, a Realtor friend did the market analysis for them (ahem). We’ll circle back later to this one and take a closer look.
#2. Sometimes it’s the location. Some locations are just perfect for some people, but not so much for others. You might love living out in the sticks to be awoken by the cheerful crowing of the rooster down the lane and across the field. But not everyone wants to be woken up at 4:37 AM, or travel thirty minutes (one way) to get some milk because someone left it out on the counter in the morning (you know who you are).
Seriously, this of course is extreme, but locations do matter to an extent. A few years ago everyone and their uncle wanted to move up to a few towns just north of the Iowa side of the QCA because of – new neighborhoods and school system. And that area is still smokin’ hot. Now entire clans are also moving to one of the QC Cities on the Iowa side because – neighborhoods and schools. Does that mean the other areas are not as good to live in or go to school at? Of course not, but it’s about perception. And in real estate, perceptions sell.
3.1 – Sometimes the lament comes from sellers who have by all appearances priced their house relatively right, but are still not selling. And sometimes we’re just itching to be honest, but decorum and business sense prevail and so we bite our tongues and grind our teeth. The question becomes one of not wanting to hurt feelings, and maintaining a polite relationship, or being truthful. What is one to do? We have seen homes with really stained and dirty siding which looks grungy even in the photos. Or basements which look like there’s several generations of stuff no one wants to deal with shoved in. We have seen homes with blankets nailed over the window in lieu of curtains, and homes so pungently reeking of cat pee, it made the photographer’s eyes water (that one was ultimately torn down and turned into a parking lot, no joke). How a house appears matters. If it looks untidy, dirty, and unkempt it makes the potential buyer wonder what mechanical defects might be lurking and then they won’t even want to call or visit the Open House. Here’s another link where I try to address this and why it’s important to fix it.
3.2 – Sometimes the house is clean and neat and the price may be not that bad either, certainly within a ballpark, but there is still no offer. And it might be because the 80’s called, they want their stuff back! We see houses with fixtures which still scream brass, and hunter green carpet, not to mention several layers of wallpaper. We’ve seen neat as a pin kitchens with ancient Formica countertops and equally vintage linoleum floors, and pink tiled bathrooms so commendably clean, they’re giving off enough Pinesol fumes to make Mr. Clean get the vapors. But the fact remains, the house is dated. The buyers are likely looking at all that work and they keep searching for a home which may be priced a bit higher but is at least for the most part updated. Updating this stuff not only cost money, but doing it takes time and nerves, and as we all know… you never know what other issues might crop up while you’re doing these improvements.
Now, let’s circle back to #1. The price. Actually, folks, I stalk people who leave our site to list with an agent. Not all of them, but some. If they list with a real estate agent I write down when, and who with, and for how much. Then I keep tabs on when they lower their price, and by how much, and when/if they close and for how much. What we see is that the large majority, of those fine folk, many of whom called us numerous times to get their stats (hits), and bemoan the fact that though they had a lot of hits didn’t get offers, end up lowering their price, considerably before selling. And guess what? Not only did they lower their price, but now they paid a commission anywhere in the neighborhood of 6-7%. We tell people, if you are getting a good amount of hits, but are not getting calls, revisit your price. Normally we then hear a long explanation of why they are asking that price. And then if they give up and go with an agent, they sometimes lower their price right away, but more often only after a few weeks.
I was a Realtor. And when I was a brand new agent, I had a mentor, who was really amazing in many regards, a great person. She taught me a lot. And the manager of the firm (who years later listed her own house with us, after the retired vice president of the company listed two of his properties with us also) let me borrow tapes by this realtor guru. Yup folks, tapes. Way before streaming. But I have no doubt that these same lessons and techniques are still used, after all, people haven’t changed. These lessons had titles like ‘How to Overcome Objections’, How to get more Listings’, ‘How to deal with FSBOs’ and so on. Back then FSBOs were sort of a nuisance pest. They generally weren’t effective, all they had were the local newspapers and a sign in their yard. But between my mentor and the tapes, one of the first lessons I learned was to never argue with the Seller about the listing price when trying to get their listing. Be enthusiastic, ‘Oh sure Steve Seller, this is a great house, it’s just the exposure is better with us. We have the MLS!’ (You should next read this article on that, btw). The idea is to first forge a positive relationship with the client. Once trust is established then you can go back after a few weeks with a chagrined expression and tell the client, ‘you know, I was so positive that this was a good price, and that it would move, but my colleagues have had a look at the listing and feel that I may have been a bit too optimistic. I’m so sorry guys, but I think you may want to consider lowering the price.’
In that same real estate firm I worked at was another agent whom I remember rather less fondly, but one of the things he said then was as dead on the money then as it is now.
‘You can sell a dog house in Manhattan as long as you price it right.‘ He never bought into the Location, Location, Location schtick. His point was, if the location wasn’t optimum, adjust the price. It might take a little longer to sell, but sell it will.
And that applies for a good many issues with a property. If you price it right for the location, for the condition, and possible other factors….it will sell. It might take a little longer to sell compared to something in the hottest location and newly decorated and updated, but sell it will.
Tell me this…. if REALTORS and their MLS are obviously what you need to sell – according to them, then WHY IS THEIR AVERAGE LISTING PERIOD 6 MONTHS? We routinely see smart people only giving themselves 1 or 2 months to go FSBO but then stay for months listed with Realtors, lower their price anyway and then pay thousands of dollars in commission on top of it. I’m filing this under Observations made over the past 20 years!
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