PART 3: “TROUBLE SHOOTING”
– What to do when things go wrong
by Neil Jenman
READING TIME: 12 minutes apx
Your home is “listed” with an agent. If you took note of the first two parts in this series on “how to handle agents”, things should be going well for you. But, these days, so many of us take short cuts. We don’t read, we speed-read or, worse, we skim important information, too eager to be getting it all started instead of getting it all right.
Finding the best agent is the most important step in selling your home.
The best agents have THREE PRIMARY QUALITIES:
1) NO NEEDLESS COSTS
First, the best agents do not waste your money with needless expenses. These days, there are so many “extras” – such as advertising, floorplans, professional photography, staging, copywriting, upgrading; the list goes on. Do you need this extra cost? In most cases, no.
2) NO RISK OF LOSS
Second, the best agents never put sellers in the situation where the sellers can lose money – often several thousand dollars – if their homes don’t sell. Good agents never profit from the losses of their clients. To do so is highly unethical.
Do not fall for the “must advertise” trap. Read our article ‘WHERE YOUR AD MONEY GOES’. Eliminate all risk. Let agents take the risk, that what honest businesses do.
3) BEST PRICE
Third, the best agents get you the best price. They have studied negotiation. They have done courses and read books.
After eliminating risk, nothing is more important than the best price for your home.
If you have selected a good agent and you are a reasonable seller, you should not have too much trouble selling your home without any unexpected problems.
Good agents warn sellers about common and likely mishaps.
Everything from little annoyances such as losing keys (it happens!) to leaving doors unlocked (common) to cancelled inspections to buyers knocking on their door to other agents white anting the sale process (very common). These are minor irritants. Selling a home is stressful. Don’t make it more stressful by getting worked up about small issues.
There are some ‘go wrongs’, however, that sellers consider major. Here are a few:
THE ADS ARE WRONG.
Sellers get furious when ads are sub-standard. Okay, so let the agent know and it should get fixed.
But remember an important point: Ads are not supposed to “sell”, salespeople are supposed to sell. The purpose of an ad should be to attract enquiry, that’s all. Too many sellers want too much detail in ads. But too much is too much. There is no need to mention that your kitchen tiles were imported from Italy. And gold-plated Grecian taps don’t mean diddly-squat to buyers. Make buyers curious. Give them a reason to call. Less is best when it comes to advertising real estate. Sometimes it’s even best to have zero advertising – as many savvy agents well know.
THE FEEDBACK IS NEGATIVE
The only thing more depressing than your home being constantly rejected by buyers is having your agent constantly giving you negative feedback. Telling you why you can’t sell rather than why you can sell.
Selling means showing something in its best possible light. When a buyer makes a negative comment, an agent should respond with a positive comment, not run to the sellers like a toddler having a tantrum. When agents say to sellers, “The reason your home is not selling is [INSERT ONE OF MANY REASONS], sellers should reply (or at least understand): “The reason the home is not selling is because you’re a poor salesperson.”
It can’t be said too often: Focus on the positives of your home not the negatives. Make sure your agent does the same. If not, fire the agent.
If all the agent does is bring you bad news, you’re never going to sell unless you take a big price cut. The agent needs to help buyers fall in love your home.
Think about this: Why did you buy the home you are now selling? What first attracted you to it as a home buyer? What have you loved about the years in your home? What do you like about the area? If you are being bombarded with negatives, hit back with positives.
Grab some paper and write a heading: WHY WE LOVE OUR HOME. Then list all your home’s positive features. No one knows your home better than you, so don’t hide its positive points. Make several copies of your ‘Love Our Home’ list and give them to the agent. Be sure every prospective buyer gets a copy. And, finally, put a ‘targeted’ ad on Facebook. The response is often far better than real estate websites.
THE AGENT WANTS MORE MONEY FOR ADVERTISING
Don’t fall for this trap. The agent says: “We are not getting enough enquiry. You need to spend more money advertising.”
Thousands of sellers get sucked-in to this trap by lazy and incompetent agents. There’s a very true saying about advertising in the sales profession: “Advertising means you are too lazy to talk to people.”
Your agent doesn’t need more money to advertise; your agent needs to do more work.
Here is how you can reply to an agent asking you to spend more on advertising, ostensibly to “sell” your home:
You: How many enquiries does your office get from buyers each month.
Agent: “I’m not sure exactly, but maybe several hundred.”
You: “Have you got the details of what those buyers are looking for?” The agent might say yes or might say no. Regardless, your reply should be:
You: And do you have a data base with details of people who have contacted you over
many months? I’ve heard that some agents have thousands of people on their data base.”
Agent: “Yes, we do.”
You: “Why don’t you call all the people who might be a match for our home and tell them how good our home is and offer them a private inspection at a time that suits them (instead of making buyers fit in with your half-hour per week inspection time)?”
Agent (with probably the enthusiasm of a teenager told to tidy their room: “Well, I could do that, I suppose.”
You: “Tell me this: When you advertise, do you ever get enquiry from people who are already known to you? It happens all the time, doesn’t it?”
Agent (if being truthful): “Yes, it does.”
You: “So, it would be correct to say that the sellers whose homes are with your agency are often paying advertising money to attract buyers who are already on your books?”
Agent: “Er, yes.”
You (as politely as you can restrain yourself): “So, some people (such as Neil Jenman) may say you’d rather spend my money than spend your time finding buyers. Can you see why they’d say that?”
By this stage, the agent may say: “Who have you been talking to?”
When you are an educated seller and you have taken the time to do your research, you will be in a much better position to “handle” agents. Instead of you falling victim to lines they learned in some real estate classes, you will be able to tell agents what they should be doing. Instead of you being controlled by the agent, you will control the agent.
ADVERTISING CAN HURT YOUR CHANCES.
Few agents tell you this, but in many cases, homes should not be advertised on major real estate websites. Why? Because they get “compared” to every other home. This means the cheapest homes – or the owners prepared to accept the lowest prices – drag your price down to their level. If getting the highest price is your aim, think seriously about staying away from big real estate websites.
Often, when your home is compared alongside hundreds of other homes, the only way to get it sold is to match prices accepted by other, often desperate, owners.
And what about that dreaded counter button? Buyers can look at how many “clicks” or “views” on your home. What do you think that does to your price?
Agents often encourage sellers to look at these “views” as if they are genuine inspections, when they are just sticky beaks. They say to sellers, “Look at the counter on the website. It’s says 762 people inspected your home. They all rejected it.” Guess what the agent then wants you to do? Lower your price. This is how advertising often lowers the price.
Sure, agents are right, if you advertise on-line you may attract “more buyers”.
But think about this: How many buyers do you need for your home?
What sort of buyer do you want? The one who will pay you the best price.
It’s not quantity of buyers you need, it’s quality. You don’t want tyre-kickers, cheapskates, sticky-beaks and bargain-hunters and those real estate cockroaches that infest big websites.
You rarely get a top price when your home is thrown-in amongst every other home for sale.
The agent may have persuaded you to spend money advertising by saying, “You can’t sell a secret?”
Oh really, says who? The agents who are urging you to advertise, that’s who.
Is your home special? Do you want to sell it for a higher price than similar homes? Well, make it special.
Anyone who understands pricing and negotiation knows the importance of what the author and psychologist Robert Cialdini calls “The Scarcity Principle”. The more special you can make your home, the more chance you have of selling it – and for a much higher price.
EXAMPLE OF A GOOD AGENT
Peter Bull from Hampton Peters Real Estate is one of the best agents in Australia. He is a superb negotiator who offers risk-free selling. He constantly gets amazingly high prices for home sellers. He is sought after in his community.
Peter often has great success by ignoring the major real estate websites and promoting properties to his massive and well organised data base. On occasions where he feels he needs to advertise a home, his first choice is Facebook. He often calls his homes “secret” or “preview” listings. He targets his ads to the demographic market he seeks. Not only does his method cost a fraction of the major websites, he consistently gets higher prices.
What’s exciting – and should be revolutionary for all agents and the entire industry – is that there is now early research to show what the best agents have long suspected: Sellers get better prices if they avoid the major websites.
NUMBERS ARE MOSTLY “NOISE”
Anyone who studies the number of sales made in an area and compares that with the number of ‘hits’ on homes advertised on websites will soon discover strange and startling truths. In a typical area of, say, 30,000 homes, there will be, on average, 200 homes sold each month. But there could be as many as four hundred homes listed for sale each month. It’s common to see homes with 500 ‘hits’ or ‘views’ on the internet. This means that, for every 400 homes on the market, there are at least 200,000 lookers. Yes, that means 199,800 people making a lot of “noise” but going nowhere.
With the websites being aided by incompetent, ignorant and self-focussed agents all trying to increase their profile at the sellers’ expense and all encouraging sellers to “upgrade” to more expensive advertising that “attracts more buyers”, the people who are laughing all the way to the bank (as the saying goes) are the major websites and agents being promoted by the sellers’ money. More than a billion dollars a year is milked from real estate consumers. Not only is almost all of it wasted but, as you have seen, it can cause severe damages to prices. Agents seldom care about prices; they care about sales. A sale as soon as possible is the aim of most agents.
If all the major real estate websites closed tomorrow, the numbers of home sales in Australia would not change. All that would change would the savings for sellers, most of whom are now conned into building the “profile” of their agents.
If you’re a seller and you want the highest price for your home, as you should, then you must focus on getting one of those two hundred genuine buyers who buy in your area each month.
But, with all the “traffic” and with websites boasting about how many people come to their site, the real estate world is drowning in “noise”. As already stated, you don’t need more “hits”, you don’t need more inspections or even more buyers.
What you need, most of all, is an agent who is smart enough to find the best buyers, those who really will buy your home at the best price. This requires agents to sift through (or ignore) the “noise” and do what good salespeople do: Qualify prospective buyers. Make sure the buyer who comes to your home is the best buyer who can pay you the best price.
It is better to spend a few more days, even a few more weeks, in the beginning, to find the best agent rather than spend months stuck with the wrong agent.
The last thing you want when selling your home is an agent primarily focused on using your money to splash that agent’s name all over the internet and then use this needless (and often useless) advertising as “evidence” of what the market is saying – lower your price.
With booms in so many areas for many years, most agents have either forgotten how to sell or, worse, never learned how to sell.
Selling is not about advertising and hoping one buyer falls out of the sky among thousands of lookers, it’s about finding that one best buyer and not being distracted by “noise”.
The foundation laws of selling are immutable. Few “modern agents” use those laws which is why most sellers now get ripped off. They waste money on needless expenses and lose tens of thousands of dollars when their homes are undersold.
The four basic rules of selling will never change.
The first rule is TALK TO PEOPLE. Most agents don’t talk much anymore; they are hard to contact and seldom return calls.
The second rule is QUALIFY. Salespeople should find the most qualified buyers. Salespeople should get to know their prospects, that’s how they can get better prices for sellers. These days, however, most agents know nothing about prospective buyers which means the sellers, for whom the agents are supposed to be acting, are constantly being short sold. Research clearly shows that most home-sellers sell for less than the buyers were willing to pay. One Melbourne agent, Jim Grigoriou from Newtons, is writing a book on this very subject. It’s called The Real Estate Short Sell. He says the underselling of homes is the “biggest hidden scandal in real estate today” because most sellers never know their homes have been undersold. On big ticket properties, Grigoriou says, “Many sellers under sell by millions of dollars.” It’s disgraceful.
The third rule is PRESENTATION. How many real estate salespeople truly know the sellers’ homes so they can properly present the homes and persuade buyers to pay the best possible price? Almost none. Instead, most agents think advertising is the way to “present”.
As stated earlier, advertising is mostly for lazy and weak salespeople. And, these days, advertising is also for dishonest salespeople who use the sellers’ money to promote the agents and find more prospects for the agents. Advertising benefits agents far more than sellers and yet agents expect sellers to pay all the advertising costs. It’s disgraceful.
The fourth rule of selling is CLOSING THE SALE. Agents rarely do any real selling these days. At best, they are like check-out operators at supermarkets (except for their inflated rates of pay). An average checkout operator earns $19.46 an hour whereas the average agent earns a thousand dollars an hour on the homes they sell. Agents are not worth more than fifty times checkout operators.
Agents may say they “negotiate” but most are just messengers running back and forth between sellers and buyers “presenting offers”. Agents should learn the skills of negotiation so they can get the best prices for their sellers. But research shows almost all agents have never read a book about negotiation. That’s why buyers constantly out-smart agents.
These days, agents rarely “sell” a home. Buyers buy homes because they like the homes, it’s rarely got anything to do with the selling skills of the agents.
To sell your home, you need the best agent. The best agents are true salespeople. They care about your interests first and foremost. Best of all, the best agents save you stacks of money by making sure you don’t waste a cent on needless expenses. Finally, the best agents make sure your home is not under-sold, that you get the very best price.
What a pleasure it is for sellers when they find the best agent in their area who gets them the best price. Sadly, it rarely happens. But it can happen. All you need to do is increase your knowledge by reading articles such as this. And, if possible, by having support from someone competent and caring who knows real estate and is dedicated to looking after you.
My name is Neil Jenman. If you are a genuine and decent home seller, I will be honoured to help you find the best agent. Unlike some companies (or so-called “advocates”) who just give your name to an agent and drop you, I will stay with you all the way, making sure you get the very best price, even supporting you in the negotiation process. I have read hundreds of books on negotiation.
If you want me, I will stay with you from the time you think of selling until you leave your home. I will even help you buy your next home. So, as I do with many people, I will help you sell for the highest price and buy for the lowest price.
Oh, and I nearly forgot: In most instances (currently 100%), I never charge you a cent. You can contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just call our office on 1800 1800 18.
COMING SOON – PART FOUR
In our series of ‘HOW TO HANDLE AGENT’
YOUR HOME IS NOT SELLING!!
Perhaps the most erroneous statement sellers make is: “We can’t sell our home.”
Some sellers will have their home for sale for weeks, months, even years. They will change agents. They will waste thousands of dollars in advertising. They will lower their price. Nothing happens. No one wants to buy their home.
So, out comes the statement said as fact: “Our home can’t be sold.”
But that’s not true. All homes can be sold. And for the highest market price.
In part four of How to Handle Agent we focus entirely on what do if your home is not selling. We will show you how any home can be sold – and for the highest price possible.
Thank you for reading our articles. Your comments are always welcome.
MISTAKES MADE BY SELLERS: In the above article, we mentioned that sellers make many mistakes that cost them a lot of money. There are so mistakes, it would take many more pages to outline them all. Several years ago, however, we researched and discovered THE 18 WORST MISTAKES MADE BY HOME SELLERS and the solutions. These mistakes are all covered in a booklet of the same name. If you are selling now (or soon) and you are considering using our FREE support service, we will be happy to send you a FREE copy of our ’18 MISTAKES’ booklet. Just click here. Thank you.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted or ignored or well publicised – it depends on our mood.
But one thing will never vary: We will never stop doing what we love most – helping polite and honest consumers to get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’d love to help you too. Thank you