It is much more difficult now
Our real estate market here in the twin cities has changed quite a bit in the last couple of years. It is much more difficult to sell a house than it used to be. Last year I made some mistakes that I decided not to repeat this year. I will publicly admit that not all of my listings sold.
I was beating myself up, but…
For a time I was beating myself up a bit over it but it wasn’t me not doing a good job. In every case the home owner was upside on a mortgage and the asking price for the home was too high. I would show my clients numbers and local sales data and recommend a price reduction but they would tell me that they couldn’t reduce it. I canceled two of those listings myself.I watched as one of those listings I canceled listed with another agent, six months later she listed it with yet another agent.
It is still on the market listed with agent number four. The price has been reduced slightly, mostly by agent number three but the property is still on the market and has been for the last 15 months. The property is worth less money today than it was the day I originally listed it. If she would have accepted my recommendation she would not have had to make fifteen months worth of mortgage payments, pay a years worth of taxes and insurance on an investment property that she is upside down on.
When did you buy it?
This year when a home owner calls and asks me to list their home I ask them when they bought it. The question is less personal than asking a total stranger that just contacted me how much the owe on their home. If they purchased the home after 2003 my questions get a bit more personal. Sometimes I give them a kind of lecture and ask them if they really have to move and if they have ever considered renting the place out. I have been able to help a few people find good tenants. I don’t make any money that way.
Some people call me and I do a market analysis for them and then they tell me how much money they have to have for their home and I tell them that I won’t list it for them. I explain that I can not sell it for the price they want to ask but assure them that there are plenty of Realtors in the Twin Cities and that they should have no trouble finding someone who will list it for them.
The same goes for buyers
It is pretty much the same with the buyers. After I have determined if they have talked to a lender I ask them how long they plan on living in the home. If they give me an answer of five years or less they are advised that buying and selling real estate that often may not be the best use of their resources. I explain typical buying and selling costs.
Last week I had a couple ask me to discount my fee because they owe about as much on their property as I can sell it for. I told them that I wanted to work with them, and I meant it, but that I could not reduce my fee. They explained that they do not have a lot of money and they need as much as they can get from the sale of their home. My heart goes out to them but I also have bills to pay, and selling their condo is going to be a lot of work. I explained the value of my services and the ways that I will save them money. I also told them that they can find an agent who will charge less. They signed a contract with me last Saturday, and their home will be on the market this week.
I’ve said “no” just as often
In the last couple of months I believe I have said no to new clients at least as often as I have said yes. I still have some tough listings but I am confident that I can sell them. It isn’t easy saying no. When I started in the business I worked for one of those huge real estate companies. They would encouraged me to get listings at any cost and we were all thought that some commission is better than none. We were discouraged from discounting our fees but in the end the company would rather see us take less than get nothing at all.
A woman who called me last week spent some time trying to “sell” me on the idea of listing her townhouse. The answer was still no. I did feel some compassion for her and her situation but I have learned that if I don’t remain some what emotional detached from my clients and their problems I end up wearing myself out and doing a lot of work for free. She has her unit listed with another agent. I asked if that agent had ever suggested reducing he price. The caller said yes. I told her that she should listen to her agent.
Learning when to say no
Learning when to say no is important. Last year I spent too much time and money trying to sell homes that were over priced. Now I am not afraid to say no, I think I have had enough practice now so that I am good at saying no. It just kind of rolls off the tongue and I enjoy saying it. It makes me feel like I am running my business instead of letting it run me. Every hour spent trying to sell and over priced listing is an hour that could be used for activities that will lead to revenue generation.