... the passing of the Labor Day weekend can be stressful as traditionally, this holiday also ushers in the slower Fall selling season here in the Midwest.
The material for my blog has always been inspired by my weekly interactions/experiences and this post is no different. Each year around this time, I have distressed homeowners reach out to me. Most of the time, they have been listed all Spring and Summer with another Realtor, resulting in no sale. They typically are at the end of their listing contract (and rope), unsure what to do next. Most times, the current relationship with their Realtor is strained, the line of communication is fractured, and they do not wish to renew their listing contract.
Whether the unsuccessful Sellers stumbled upon my information on Social Media or they confided in a loved one or coworker who coincidentally was one of my past clients and graciously passed along my business card... they seek honesty, understanding, advice, guidance, and HELP.
Before I proceed, I will preface by stating that a good Realtor makes the job look easy. However, it is incredibly difficult to walk into a homeowner's space - their sanctuary - and list off what needs changing to make the property appealing to the masses. A number of agents find this aspect of the job unbearable, revealing to a homeowner that their house needs tidying, cleaning, rearranging, redecorating, or renovation. Realtors also typically face a Homeowner who clearly states what they financially "need" out of the property, despite what the comps indicate the TRUE market value to be. Added pressure. As a result, some agents are not honest with their Sellers... often resulting in months on market and hard feelings.
My take? Having these difficult conversations is the basis of a Realtor's job. A difficult part of the job, yet the most IMPORTANT part of the job.
The fact is: While the truth sometimes hurts, information is POWER to a Seller. It allows them to control the process and not have the process control them. In addition, it is during these moments that an understanding is made between Realtor and client and an open line of communication is established. Both are IMPERATIVE to a successful transaction.
Listings don't sell for a variety of reasons. As we had a healthy 2015 season for Sellers in St. Louis, with a lower inventory and enticing interest rates, market/financing conditions can likely be removed as a culprit.
The unsuccessful sale can typically be attributed to 1 of 3 factors, or a combination of the 3:
1) The Realtor and things that could have and should have been done better:
- Dropped the ball in their pricing and staging advice.
- Haphazard pricing not in line with the comps.
- Didn't honestly reveal to a Seller that their house has an undesirable odor or is dirty.
- Used an inappropriate psychology of words in marketing, not focused on the targeted Buyer pool.
- Poor photos.
- Inadequate (or lack of) staging advice prior to photos and/or showings.
- Poor/ inappropriate exposure.
- Vast exposure with lackluster marketing to back it up.
- Lack of communication with the Seller.
- Lack of communication with the general public or fellow Realtors whose inquiries were not met with timely response if any at all. Yes, this is quite common.
- Didn't properly prepare the Seller with showing guidelines and expectations.
- Didn't define communication expectations with the Seller.
- Didn't keep the line of communication open with the Seller.
- Didn't provide the Seller with honest Buyer feedback received.
- Made promises that they knew they couldn't keep.
- Didn't defer a Seller who they knew they couldn't help.
- Listed at a commission that is so low it deterred Buyer's agents.
2) The Homeowner and things that could have and should have done better:
- Didn't properly interview and/or ask the tough questions prior to selecting a Realtor.
- Didn't hire a Realtor with a proven track record and client recommendations.
- Didn't trust or follow the Realtor's advice when given.
- Wasn't realistic about value, despite statistical data given.
- Hired a discount Broker with shoddy marketing and representation- you get what you pay for!
- Didn't properly prepare the property before every showing- from clearing the sink of dishes to scooping poop in the yard.
- Didn't make their property readily available to Buyer's agents and their clients, even if inconvenient for them.
- Was problematic or rude to Buyer's agents.
- Publicly broadcasted their house woes on Social media, alienating their Realtor or snooping Buyers.
- Didn't give potential Buyers adequate time alone in a property.
- Didn't keep the line of communication open with their Realtor.
- Didn't keep their Realtor informed, including withholding questions or stating concerns as they arose.
- Was not realistic about profit potential despite comps given.
- Used their agent as a verbal punching bag when frustrated.
- Refused price adjustments when the time arises or feedback/days on market reflect it to be necessary.
3) The Location/Property features that are out of your control as a current owner:
- Some properties just take longer to sell.
- Certain location or property features automatically reduce the Buyer pool, thus prolonging the listing period: vicinity near commercial or a school, busy street, power lines, swimming pool, certain architectural styles- split foyers and slabs in St. Louis, extremely stylized decor, unusually small or large lot, strange lot topography/grading, unappealing neighboring properties, etc.
OK, SO WHAT NEXT?
The key to recovery after a lengthy unsuccessful listing period is to pause and regroup before you sign another Listing Agreement. Ask yourself the question: Should I stay or should I go? Do you want to remain in the house or are you willing to do whatever it takes to sell that house, even if it means switching things up, engaging in difficult conversations, taking on some new projects, and/or taking a financial hit?
Should you decide that selling is your preference, it is time to seek a 2nd opinion, a fresh perspective, IMMEDIATELY. Speak with a new Realtor (or two). Conduct a formal interview. Ask for professional references and CHECK THEM. Take the lessons learned from your 1st experience and seek someone who you think will be a better match and earn your trust. Be honest about your past frustrations, admit what you could have done better, ask the tough questions that you should have asked the 1st time around, and ask them to highlight what they see as the key selling obstacle from an outside perspective. 9x out of 10,a skilled Realtor can directly pinpoint the problem just by pulling up the listing, carefully examining the current comps, and visiting the property.
- Do not panic and stay positive.
- Wipe the slate clean.
- Hire someone who you have confidence in.
- Be clear about what you need and expect from your new Realtor.
- Trust the process.
- Trust your Realtor's advice and do not be afraid to tap their wisdom and confide in them.
- As difficult as it is, try to approach your new agent with a positive attitude and with faith, devoid of the frustrations and bias caused by the previous agent.
- Take each day and part of the process as it comes and keep in mind- this too shall pass.
If you are a St. Louis homeowner currently feeling shackled by your unsold property and do not know where to turn or what to do... please do NOT be afraid to reach out. I welcome this contact. I can help you. I do not judge.
My clients, whose praises I wear like a badge of honor, will attest...
I am brutally honest and take my professional integrity seriously. I will not compromise either of those things. I will not lie, even when the truth may sting or is extremely difficult to deliver.
I bring to the table almost 15 years of residential real estate experience, a proven track record of success, concrete statistical data, and an unbiased opinion. When working with a Seller, I will not sign a listing agreement until the issues of the property are well-understood, discussed, and remedied. If a Seller is unwilling to remedy issues that I address, I ensure that they understand the possible financial consequences of not doing so.
If I think that prolonging the listing until the Spring is advisable and/or necessary to maximize profit potential- I disclose that immediately. If I think that I am not the match for that Seller- I reveal that and politely decline the listing. My single goal as a Realtor is to sell your property, making it as stress-free and profitable a process as I possibly can for you. All of my advice given will support that goal.
Licensed Realtor - State of Missouri
Selling St. Louis since 2001
6 time recipient of the St. Louis Magazine
“5 Star Realtor Award” for best customer service
Coldwell Banker Gundaker Corporate Headquarters
#2458 Old Dorsett Road, Suite 100
St. Louis, MO 63043
314. 452. 7675 cell / text
314. 298. 5275 office
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