A couple of weeks ago, we got “the call.” If you are an agent, any agent, who has been on more than one listing interview, and I don’t care how incredibly competent or experienced or even famous you are, you have gotten “the call.”
“We have decided to list our home with another agent, but thank you for your time.” At this point, I always ask why we came up short. Critical self-evaluation and honest feedback is essential if we are going to avoid repeating past mistakes. The problem is that we don’t always get honest feedback. What they say is usually something like, “It was such a HARD decision, it was REALLY tough, we sure did AGONIZE, but we preferred his (pause) shoes.” What they really mean most of the time is, “We preferred his price” or “We preferred his fees.”
It’s Not You, It’s Me
One could argue that this is our fault. Perhaps we didn’t do an adequate job of communicating our value. Most often in these circumstances, however, I know it wouldn’t have mattered it I had produced a testimonial from Donald Trump himself. Blah, blah, blah. We charge “x” percent. Blah, blah, blah. Your home is worth less than you think and by a factor of a gazillion.
This is why our mentors teach us to talk about experience and marketing first. Once the subject of money comes up, either probable sale price or cost of sale, and if the message is unexpected, you lose your audience. In this market, we figure that about half of the time our professional estimate of value is going to be as welcome as a mild case of salmonella. We generally spend the first half-hour holding our breath for the moment of truth, waiting for the telling reaction. Sometimes, we get knowing nods. This is encouraging. At least we have a shot. Too many other times, however, we get vacant teenage-style gazes, the ones that suggest our hosts are thinking only about how and how quickly they can get out of the room. In extreme cases, they feign death until we give up and leave all on our own.
In virtually every case where we have found ourselves in a competitive situation, the sellers have assured us that they would “let us know.” We actually get the call only a fraction of the time. So, when we received our most recent closure, I had to at least give our would-be employers bonus points for common courtesy. And, it turns out, they deserved some props for bravery.
On the Rebound
This particular home had a rich history. It had been on and off the market for the better part of the past two years, with three different agents having done time at the helm. So when they told us that they were going to be relisting with agent number two, we were a little baffled. “She is going to do it for $500!” they explained. And, this is when I had to ask myself, “Do what?”
Obviously, money is an issue; it is always an issue. I get that, but am I missing something? You can’t really make more or pay less unless the home actually sells. And in the case of our $500 agent, she had not only failed once, but I want the name of her printer! This kind of payday wouldn’t even cover the cost of my initial photo shoot and brochure run.
This is a dilemma as old as the Slim Jims at my local convenience store. There will always be an agent who will tell the seller what they want to hear, and there will always be an agent who is willing to do nothing for very little. I can tell the seller all day long that unless that agent is holding a check book and is prepared to buy their home, he does not determine value. The buyer does. Blah, blah, blah. I can explain until I am blue in the face that what an agent can do is offer a knowledgeable and studied opinion of value and commit the resources to promote their home in the broadest, most professional way possible to maximize the ultimate sale price within that range of market value which truly exists. Yeah, whatever. Sometimes, it just isn’t going to matter what I say or how I say it, because it is ultimately up to the seller to make the call and, sadly, it’s not always going to be the call we want to get.