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04 February 2016


The personal price of not selling.

by Neil Jenman

Many of today’s sellers have a serious but hidden problem.

They don’t realise, often until they’re in pain, that there are two prices when selling a home – a financial price and a personal price.

Think about it – why do people sell real estate? It’s not, as most people believe, primarily for the money. No, people sell because of what they can do with the money.

The money is secondary to the personal needs, goals or dreams of the sellers.

Far too many sellers focus far too much on just the money. They become so fixated on the money that they barely remember the personal reason they are selling. In doing so, they lose financially and personally.

Back in the days when I was selling real estate, a delightful elderly couple asked me to sell their home. They were Yugoslav immigrants and although their English was poor, they made one point very clear. They had a big financial goal for their selling price.

But what about their personal goal? Well, they wanted to move closer to their grown-up children. They showed me photographs of their grandchildren and their eyes brimmed with tears.

Unfortunately, the market was falling. I could not find a buyer willing to pay the price they wanted. There were several offers, but each was firmly refused. Out of respect, I didn’t push them. I just kept trying; but I was trying to do the impossible.

Weeks turned into months and still their home was not sold.

And then the elderly man died.

A few weeks later, his wife decided to rent her home while she went to Yugoslavia to visit friends and family. She gave me the keys and said goodbye. I never saw her again. As so often happens with close elderly couples, she was to die in a few weeks.

Her son came to see me. It was time to sell the home once and for all. We discussed the price and he said, “My father was stubborn. You sell it for the best price you can get. We trust your judgement.”

Within a few weeks the home was sold – not for the price the elderly man had wanted but for the best available price in the current market.

The family thanked me. They were pleased that the home had finally sold.

But then it occurred to me – the elderly couple had suffered a major loss. They had missed out on precious time with their grandchildren. They put their money ahead of their lives.

From that day onwards, I would not hesitate to tell sellers to put their personal goals ahead of their financial goals. If their price goals were too high, I’d tell them.

About a year later, I was involved with an almost identical elderly couple. Although they had an excellent offer, they stubbornly held out for about ten thousand dollars.

I looked at them and thought, “Will they have ten thousand dollars in assets when they die?”

And then I couldn’t help myself, I told them what I was thinking. They smiled and told me that yes, of course, their assets would exceed ten thousand dollars when they died.

I leaned forward and said, “So, why don’t you use that money now and take it off the high price you are asking and get on with your life?”

It was so obvious. They laughed and agreed. In doing so, they put their lives ahead of their money.

If you’ve got your property for sale and no-one’s buying it, then it almost certainly means that your asking price is too high. Sure, it’s easy to blame the agent and, yes, most agents aren’t that good at negotiating.

But one thing’s for sure about all agents, they all want to make sales. Yes, there are a lot of pushy agents (especially with auctions) but there are also lots of meek agents. And many of these agents don’t know how to tell sellers to accept the best offer and get on with their life.

In my experience, all sellers – once they make the decision to accept the best offer – never regret selling and getting on with their lives.

It’s often a simple choice – your money or your life.

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