One of the more desperate lines of all times is, “Tell me you love me, before we leave the bar.” For whatever reasons, many people would rather be lied to that to hear the truth in some situations. I happen to work in the real estate business and I run into that a lot. I lose more business than I care to admit, because of that. It usually comes down to some other agent telling the potential client what they want to hear, even if it is not the truth of the situation. That usually involves the pricing of the listing. Many people just do not want to hear what the true market value of their home is; so they believe the agent who tells them the highest number. Often that is a number well above the current market value; but, that doesn’t matter to them, because the higher number makes them feel good for the time being.
Some people play this game for ego reasons. They can go to work and tell everyone that they live in a house that just listed for $300,000, even though the best estimate of its market value may be $250,000. Many people get into this mode because someone else, somewhere else, told them that they thought their house was worth more than the Realtors were telling them. Usually that person is out of the area, many times out of state, and has no idea about the local market. Sometimes the seller points to a house down the street and says that it sold last year or last month for what he is asking me to price his house at; usually with no idea of the updates or upgrades that the other homeowner had put into the house to justify that price (unlike my client, who many times had not have invested in his home in years).
Sometimes, however, it is a less than totally scrupulous fellow Realtor who knows that if he tells the seller this lie, he will get the listing and he can then start pushing for price reductions when it doesn’t sell. That’s not dishonest, just not the way that I chose to work. When someone asks me to do an market analysis for their home to help establish a market value for listing it, that is what I do. I usually come back to them with two things – a list of things that they can do to increase the value and decrease the time it will take to sell; and, a recommended pricing range, with a lower value for a quicker sale and a higher price to achieve maximum value. Both are reasonable numbers that reflect a balance between perceived value and price, but which also show the time trade-off of the pricing options. I try to explain this clearly, so that they understand the factors and logic that I used to arrive at the numbers. I’ve stopped using the word Comps (Comparables) and chose to use what I call Similar Houses that have sold and that are active to establish a reasonable market value expectation.
Some people take my report and advice better than others. Some may initially feel like I’m being negative about their home by pointing out the things that will likely detract from its value, but I usually give them plenty of advice about the things that they could do to correct some of the issues. For things that it is too late to correct or for those that are too costly to correct as you are getting ready to sell, I try to help them understand how potential buyers are likely to react and what impact on their offers those items are likely to have. Unfortunately the process of selling one’s house is fraught with emotions and sometimes they feel better with the agent who comes in and tells them that he/she loves the house and that there is nothing at all wrong with it. They tell them that they love them before they leave the bar; and they feel good about that.
So, I lose some listings because of that; but, I don’t lose any sleep at night over anything that I’ve said. I often get calls months later from those same buyers letting me know (as if it somehow cleanses their conscious) that I was right and the house eventually sold for what I said it would. How nice of them. I’ve only had one case of someone coming back and asking me to list their house after an unsuccessful time on the market with the agent that they left the bar with initially. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from people about being bullied by Mr. Smooth, sometimes within the first week or so of the listing. The other thing about agents who work like that is that they are not usually very patient. They want to get in, get the listing however they can, get the price dropped as quickly as they can, get the place sold quickly and get out before the client wakes up to what happened. Others have related how they never saw the agent again after he took the listing; because he was on to the next bar, telling more lies to the next desperate patron.
We all use the old saw “Buyer Beware”; but there should also be one for “Seller Beware”. When the time comes to think of selling your home it needs to stop being your home and become a product. The home that you have known and loved for years will live forever in your memories. You should look at the house that you now need to sell with the same cold calculating eye that potential buyers will be using when they visit. So, you don’t need a lover (someone to lie to you) you need someone to give you professional advice. If you’re ready for that, give me a call. Let’s get out of that bar and go sell your house.