NOTE FROM NEIL JENMAN: If you home is not selling and you need suggestions, this article should help you. If you need more specific suggestions about your home and your personal circumstances, you are welcome to contact me personally. I will reply to you and support you as soon as I humanly can. At no charge, of course. Do not feel alone. There is no such thing as a home that cannot be sold – and at the best market price. Thank you.
by Neil Jenman
READING TIME: 15 minutes (but worth every second!)
Does this describe you?
Your home has been for sale for weeks, maybe months. It has not sold. You probably feel terrible.
A whole gamut of negative emotions can hit unsold property owners. One of the worst is the rejection. No one wants to be cast aside, passed over, ignored, or worse, told they are no good.
It might seem a bit dramatic but if your home is not selling you may understand the truth of the words once reportedly said by the late Mother Theresa, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
Okay, let’s calm down, forget the dramatics. Try to think rationally and sensibly.
THE VITAL QUESTION
Why has your home has not sold? That is the question you must answer.
As hard as it may be, you must try not to get too emotional. Some of the worst decisions are made when people are not thinking rationally, when they are tired, stressed, fed-up and, worst of all, if they are being bullied by an agent.
So, the first thing you must do is answer the question: Why has your home not sold?
Now, of course, almost every agent will tell you that “The only reason a home does not sell is because the price is too high”.
Such a statement is not only false, but also financially dangerous. Price is important but not nearly as important as most agents claim. And I can prove it.
I even read those exact words in the draft of a new real estate book last week. The author, an agent, asked me to comment on his manuscript. And there were those absurd words again, “The only reason a home does not sell is because the price is too high.”
The solution to an unsold home, according to almost every agent is DROP YOUR PRICE.
Yes, of course, if you drop your price your home will soon sell. If it does not sell, just keep dropping and dropping and dropping.
Yes, until it really does feel, as many owners complain, that you are “giving it away”.
As I have said many times, it is often better to drop your agent rather than drop your price.
Yes, that’s right, give the agent away, not your home.
Here is one of the fundamental problems with most agents – they do not have the same motive as you the home-seller.
If you are selling your home, your main motive is getting a sale at the best price possible. The agent’s motive is getting a sale. To many agents, that means any price.
You see, here is a fact most sellers do not realise: Whether an agent sells your home for a high price or a low price, the agent still gets a high commission. So, of course, the agent’s focus is more on making a sale, not on getting the best price.
MOST AGENTS ARE LAZY.
As a seller, you need to be careful that your agent’s laziness is not costing you big dollars off your selling price. If they are too lazy to work hard, they will ask you to drop your price.
It is a lot easier for agents to badger sellers to drop their prices than to do what agents should be doing – working diligently and conscientiously to get the best price.
Or, to make it simple, we can reduce that statement to two words: WORK HARD.
Let’s face another fact. Most of today’s so-called modern agents are lazy.
As soon as they list a home for sale, what is the first thing they do? They advertise the home on the internet.
Second thing? They wait for buyers to show up.
If no buyers show up, the agents soon start telling the sellers, “The market has spoken, you need to reduce your price.”
So, where is the hard work, the effort, the ingenuity in the above description which applies to probably 95 per cent of today’s agents?
FIGHT FOR YOUR PRICE.
So, get ready to face the truth. And sellers, I warn you: If you want the best price for your home you may have to fight. Stand up for yourself. You must not crack under the deliberate pressure placed upon you by agents. They have a name for such pressure. It’s called “conditioning”.
Do not let the agents condition you. As I am often saying to the sellers I am supporting: Instead of letting the agents condition you, let’s turn it around and have you condition the agents.
I then tell the sellers what to say and do – or, better still, I arrange for my colleague, Michael Kies (Australia’s best and most ethical real estate coach) to contact the agents.
You see, here is the truth.
TWO REASONS A HOME DOES NOT SELL.
If a home is not selling, there are essentially two reasons: Either the price is too high (yes, as all agents tell you). And the second reason, which almost no agent will tell you, is this: The agent is not good enough.
Get it? Let me repeat it, please (it is important): If a home is not selling, there are only two reasons: Either the price is too high, or the agent’s competency is too low.
In my experience – and agents love to boast about how long they have been in real estate, so let me do the same. I have been in the real estate industry for 48 years. In all that time, I can sincerely say that, when a home is not selling, then, in the beginning, in at least 80 per cent of the cases, the first reason is not the price, it’s the agent.
It’s not the sellers’ fault, it’s the agents’ fault.
The agent is either too lazy, too stupid, or too incompetent. Seriously, I am not joking about this.
Why would I?
The well-known, unorthodox business coach, Larry Winget says there are three reasons salespeople fail to make sales. And yes, they are confronting reasons and sure, I will likely get plenty of abuse for repeating these reasons.
The first reason is because they are too lazy.
The second reason is because they are too stupid.
And the third reason is because they don’t give a damn.
Yes, it’s confronting. But it’s true.
Agents are constantly under-selling homes. Again, my own research shows that more than 80 per cent of homes are under-sold. And usually by almost ten per cent. On a million-dollar home, that is a loss of one hundred thousand dollars.
The Melbourne agent, Jim Grigoriou, who has been working on a book called The Real Estate Short-Sell agrees with me almost to the exact percentage.
So, if your home is not selling and the agent says it is your fault because the price is too high, how can you discover if it is the agents’ fault or your fault?
Well, that’s easy.
In a moment I will tell you what agents should do – and if your agent has not done these actions, then it’s almost certainly not your fault. So, do not drop your price. If your agent will not do what should be done – HARD WORK – then drop your agent.
Please note that I am saying “in the beginning” and “at first”. All sellers must understand that if they do have a good agent who works hard and is both diligent and conscientious, well then, of course, if it is not the agents’ fault it is almost certainly the price.
But here is the point: Dropping the price should be your last resort not, as most agents would have it, the first thing that happens when you do not make a sale.
Here is what you need to condition the agents into doing for you.
Here is a list of the hard work actions that can get you the price you want. If your agent is not doing these actions, I repeat, do not drop your price.
Either fix the agent or fire the agent.
Do not be scared to fire an agent. When we are supporting sellers, we often fire agents. We call it “changing agents” so we do not hurt their egos.
Nothing makes me more wild than how quickly agents urge owners to drop prices. Someone once said, “Never he who spends so much as he who does not intend to pay.”
It’s your home, it’s your money.
Your home is likely your biggest financial asset. Stand up for it.
Here is what a competent and skilled agent will be doing.
As we go through these points, check your own agent. How do they rate? If poorly, fix them or fire them.
If they rate well, maybe it could be the price. But still, be careful.
If you need my help, let me know. I am here for you. Just email me at email@example.com.
POINT 1 – QUOTE ACCOUNTABILITY
When you first met the agent, you would have been quoted a likely selling price.
Since you signed-up has that quote become lower? If so, how does the agent explain that anomaly?
Get this: When agents make mistakes about the quoted price, it is always to the disadvantage of sellers.
Unless there is a mad boom happening, agents never list your home and then say, “Oh, good news, it seems my estimate when we met was too conservative, your home is worth a lot more.”
No, they always push you down once they sign you up. This almost certainly means that you were conned from the start.
How do you feel being stuck with a con artist?
Of course, some agents will genuinely admit to making an error.
The highly ethical agents may even offer to resign because of their mistake.
How does your agent score on this point?
POINT 2 – CONTACTING EXISTING BUYERS
All agents – unless they are incredibly incompetent – have lists of current buyers who have contacted their office in the past weeks and months. Many use these contacts as an incentive to persuade you to list your home with them.
And then what happened?
Did they immediately ask you to fork out huge money for advertising costs before they contacted their existing buyers? If so, at best you are being used and abused, taken for a ride. At worst, again you have been conned.
So, you need to ask your agent a direct question such as: How many prospective buyers have you contacted and told them about our home?
Now, here is a huge warning. You are about to discover if your agent is a hard worker who is really trying for you OR if your agent is a lazy slob who’s using smoke and mirrors and fancy words (such as “contact”) to make you think they are working hard.
There are two ways to contact prospective buyers. The hard-working effective way and the lazy ineffective way.
Here is what hard-workers do: They contact the prospective buyers by phone. They tell them about your home. They are excited as they list its many features and the benefits of buying it. They urge prospects to inspect the home.
This way is highly effective and often leads to a sale at a high price.
Here is what the lazy agents do: They “email their data base” with a “list of this week’s new listings”. Then they wait for prospects to contact them.
Of course, almost no one does.
The agents then tell the sellers, “We have contacted our existing data base without success. You need to lower your price.”
This way is very ineffective and leads to homes being under-sold.
POINT 3 – POSITIVITY NOT NEGATIVITY
Skilled agents know that their job is to focus on the positives of a property. And, wherever possible, without being deceptive, skilled agents minimise the effect of any perceived negative features of the home.
Skilled agents are like defence lawyers who do everything they can to get the best result for their clients. They are passionate, they are persuasive. Positive points are promoted. Negative points are turned into positives or treated as they often should be – inconsequential.
If your agent is spending more time telling you what’s wrong with your home rather than telling prospective buyers what’s right with your home, you have the wrong agent.
And, for sure, you should never lower your price after being subjected to a barrage of negativity by an agent.
It reminds me of the true saying, “With friends like this, who needs enemies?”
Negativity destroys your chance of getting a good sale.
The only benefit to an agent of telling you all the negative points about your home is to make you drop your price.
Then the agent makes a sale – and you lose thousands of dollars.
No, do not give in to agents who hit you with negative points.
If the agent cannot find positive points about your home, find a more positive agent – fast.
POINT 4 – “MUSTERING” OFFERS
Many buyers are reluctant to make offers. They don’t want to cause offense.
A skilled agent will ‘round up’ prospective buyers and encourage offers. The aim is not to give the owners low offers. On the contrary, the aim is to start the offer process in motion.
By asking buyers who’ve inspected the home, but not shown any real interest in buying, if they would consider buying at some price, a skilled agent can stimulate offers.
And, unlike the absurd auction process where a man is yelling at buyers with a hammer in his hand, a skilled negotiator can gently work buyers up in price over several days.
There are probably no finer agents in Australia than Jenayah Hampton and Peter Bull of Hampton Peters, serving Burnie and the north-west of Tasmania. By asking for offers and asking questions such as: “What price would you pay for this home?”, they regularly turn ‘walk-away’ buyers into firm offers.
And, many times, due to their team members telephoning buyers, they have multiple buyers for the same property. This, of course, leads to multiple offers.
And, because no buyers know what any other buyers are offering, unlike the auction system, buyers then offer their best price instead of a price based on the bidder below them.
Hampton Peters are often selling as many as half their listings above the asking price.
If your agent is not ‘mustering’ buyers and stimulating offers, what happens? The only offers you will be given are the ones where buyers themselves instigated the process. These are likely to be much lower offers leading to homes being under-sold.
The best prices come from the agents who are pro-active, not those who are sitting around waiting and hoping for something to happen.
Hope is not a method. Agents who are relying on hope to sell your home (they will say, “We hope we get some inspections at the next open-home”), are, to put it frankly, hopeless.
POINT 5 – IS YOUR AGENT A PROFILER?
Skilled agents are like skilled detectives. Instead of hoping buyers fall out of the sky, these detective-style agents will ask the question: “What sort of buyers will buy a home such as this?”
They will also ask the owners, “What made you buy this home?” And they will ask, “How did you find out about this home when you were house hunting?”
Armed with this information, the skilled agent will go out and find the right buyers.
Meanwhile, the unskilled agents will be standing at the door of the home for 30 minutes a week wondering what they can do to make a sale. Only one thing: Ask the owners to drop the price. Not on your financial life. If you drop your price when your agent has been too lazy or too incompetent to go looking for buyers, you are being financially penalised for the agent’s pitiful performance.
It is often said that there are three types of salespeople: Those who make things happen, those who watch what happens and those who wonder what happened. Make sure your agent is one who makes things happen.
Michael Flynn is an excellent example of a detective style agent. The director of Fox’s Real Estate at Southport, he has recently been given the honour of handling the sale of what is believed to be the finest penthouse on the Gold Coast.
This stunning ‘home in the sky’ is located at Main Beach and is the pinnacle of what it means to have a beautiful home. The owners have had nearly 20 years of happiness in this gorgeous penthouse, but with the years catching up on them and their children having flown the coop, they are reluctantly selling to move to something smaller.
If this penthouse were at Cannes or in New York, it could well sell for upwards of $50 million dollars.
At $7.2 million, it is probably the best buy for a property in the quality class in Australia. I have urged them to increase the price. Yes, that’s a technique that can work too. Just ask anyone who knows anything about being a good negotiator.
So, how is Michael planning to sell it? Not with the hope method or the sit-back-and-wait method. He is asking WHO. Who will be the likely buyers?
He is planning to send out dozens of letters perhaps hundreds – thousands if he can manage it – directly targeted to people he feels may buy such a property.
Michael Flynn is like the FBI’s legendary John Douglas. Instead of profiling criminals, however, Michael profiles buyers. That’s why he is the best real estate agent on the Gold Coast.
Is your agent a profiler?
Does your agent ask the question “WHO may be suited to this property?” – and then does your agent go searching for such buyers.
If not, find an agent who does search for buyers.
POINT 6 – HAS YOUR HOME BEEN A GOOD INVESTMENT?
If your property has been a good investment for you in the years you have owned it, chances are it will continue to be a good investment for the next buyer.
Most real estate agencies have “rent rolls”. These are investment properties they manage on behalf of landlords. It is not uncommon for some offices to have several hundred properties on their rent rolls.
Skilled agents will call their current owners. They know which owners may be interested in buying another investment property.
Now, granted this is hard work – for the agents. But a good agent will work hard.
With sales commissions exceeding $20,000 per property in many areas, sometimes as much as $50,000, how many hours will it take an agent to telephone, say, about 50 landlords? Five hours?
Jim Grigoriou, an agent in Melbourne, regularly makes sales to his existing landlords. He makes sure that, when a property is suitable for investors, his salespeople telephone the agency’s current investors. It works.
Is your agent doing the same? If not, find an agent who will call investors.
POINT 7 – THE TTP METHOD
Kathy Richer is the director of the same successful real estate agency in Melbourne. During the recent severe lock-downs in Melbourne, when most agents were shut, Kathy’s office found a way to keep trading.
They worked hard.
Not only did their hard work pay dividends for their sellers, but they also had record sales periods.
Think on that for a moment.
When almost every other agent had given up and gone home (stayed home as the government ordered them to do so), Kathy and her team used what she calls the TTP method.
TTP stands for TALK TO PEOPLE.
Now, when you ask a lazy, unskilled agent, a question such as: “How many people have you called about my property?”, they will give you a quizzical look. They won’t understand what you mean.
You see, lazy agents take calls. Hard working agents make calls.
Lazy agents will tell the sellers, “We haven’t had many calls,” the inference being that the sellers need to drop the price.
But when the sellers know how to “condition” the agents, the sellers will ask their agent: “How many calls have you made informing people about my property?”
If the answer is none, that means the agent is a call-taker not a call-maker.
Oh, but where can you find people to speak to about a home for sale? Now, if an agent asks such a question, you are speaking to an agent who is both lazy and stupid and, also, probably one who does not care.
There are millions of people in Australia’s capital cities. More than enough people for agents to call and ask if they want to buy a home.
Agents often go door-to-door looking for people selling their homes. How many go door-to-door looking for people who are buying homes? Almost none.
Laziness, that’s why.
Often the best paying buyers are those who live in the same area as the home being sold. Top prices are often paid by neighbours. Lately, I have called two neighbours on behalf of owners. At least one of the neighbours seems certain to buy, thus saving the owner about $50,000 in commission (I do not charge owners for giving them support so there are no fees in such instances).
But how many agents will knock on every door of every home where another home is being sold? Very few.
No, it is easier to tell the sellers to reduce their price than to work hard.
Please sellers, if your agent has not worked hard and done everything possible to get you a sale at the best possible price, do not throw away thousands of dollars from the value of your home.
Find another agent.
Call me, we will find one for you. Just call 1800 1800 18.
Sales for all products, from washing machines to homes, begin with TTP – talking to people. It may seem simplistic to these lazy pretender agents cruising around the burbs in their black beamers, but here is a great truth in selling: If you are not making enough sales, you are not talking to enough people.
If you want more sales, talk to more people.
If you want your home sold by an agent who is going to attempt to get you the highest price, hire an agent who makes the highest number of calls – a TTP agent.
POINT 8 – ENTHUSIASM
This point is so important it should be ranked first. It is often said “Selling is the transference of enthusiasm”. If the agent is not enthusiastic about your property, how can he or she get buyers to be enthusiastic? It’s not possible.
Enthusiasm is essential to getting a sale – especially at a good price.
In real estate, the highest priced properties are often sold by rookie salespeople. These newcomers don’t know any better than to be excited. Instead of focusing on the price – and saying to themselves or, worse, the buyers, “This place is a bit dear” OR “The owners want too much,” they get all excited and say something such as, “Hey, I have got a place that matches the exact description of what you’re looking for. Come and see it.”
And then the buyers see the home, they love it and then they buy it.
Too many agents are too fixated on price. Price is not the main reason buyers buy. The main reason buyers buy is because they love the property.
Love comes first, money comes second.
If your agent is not enthusiastic, find another agent.
The two times that an agent is most enthusiastic – which are the times they are most likely to score a sale – are when they are just about to be hired or when they are just about to be fired.
There is another good saying about employing salespeople which is essentially what you are doing when you are hiring a real estate agent. It goes like this: Salespeople who are not fired with enthusiasm, will soon be fired – with enthusiasm.
Please do not feel bad or guilty about firing – sorry, changing, agents.
As I often tell sellers, selling your home is not first and foremost about finding the right buyer, it is about finding the right agent.
The problem for all sellers – and it is also a problem for us too – is that most agents sound good before you hire them. They tell you exactly what you want to hear. They promise they will do what is right, that they will soon find a buyer at a great price.
But then, once you hire them, they turn like a cheating boyfriend. And then we know it, we failed to pick up on their true character. Therefore, you should never sign up for long time periods with agents you’ve just me. Give them 30 days. Max. If they prove themselves, you can extend. For another short time, say, 30 days. Short-time periods give sellers control instead of agents. As it should be.
Right now, if your home has not sold, these eight points will tell you who is at fault – you with your price or the agent with their competency.
If it is the agent’s fault, drop your agent. Hire an agent who is right for you.
If it is your fault, drop your price.
Either way, your home is now much more likely to be sold.
And for the highest price possible.
FOOTNOTE: When your home has not sold, you will be pestered by other agents telling you they can help you sell – now. They will feign shock that you haven’t sold. They will tell you they have “buyers waiting”. Be careful. Remember the ‘frying pan and fire’ analogy.
So, what should you do when other agents are circling like vultures? That’s easy too. Call us. We will happily contact the circling agents for you and find out if they are genuine or not.
Thank you for reading this article. Hopefully, it has been worth your while. Let me repeat what I said at the beginning:
NOTE FROM NEIL JENMAN: If your home is not selling and you need suggestions, this article should help you. If you need more specific suggestions about your home and your personal circumstances, you are welcome to contact me personally. I will reply to you and support you as soon as I humanly can. At no charge, of course. Do not feel alone. There is no such thing as a home that cannot be sold – and at the best market price. Thank you.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted, 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 get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’ll help you too. Thank you.