More Realtors Say “No” to Unrealistic Sellers

I am seeing and hearing anecdotal evidence that realtors are becoming more selective about the listings they are willing to take.

Although the public doesn’t ordinarily think of realtors declining listings — empty cabs don’t turn down fares, do they? — good realtors can and do pass on listings that they think aren’t likely to sell all the time.

By far the most common reason is price.

An unrealistically priced home, in a slow market, is the realtor kiss of death. It will consume your attention, energy, and worst of all, your money. More subtle is the opportunity cost: while you’re busy trying to push a boulder up hill, you’re missing out on other deals and clients with more realistic expectations.

“Behind the Scenes” Prep

Good realtors do far more than stick a sign in the front yard, then wait for qualified buyers to show up.

As readers of this blog know, the realtor’s involvement and direction begin weeks — if not months — before a home hits the market. My “to do” list includes orchestrating the staging and suggesting cost-effective cosmetic improvements; guiding the Seller’s compliance with municipal point-of-sale and Minnesota seller disclosure requirements; and arranging professional photography and desktop publishing to make sure the marketing literature is as flattering as possible.

Only once all those things are done, do I switch to the more “public” tasks typically associated with selling a home: placing eye-catching ads, holding Sunday and broker open houses, networking the home to realtor colleagues, neighbors, etc.

And pricing.

While clients ultimately choose their asking price, the realtor will provide the market data that frames their choice.

Pricing Guidance

I typically characterize the likely selling range for any given house as a bell curve: the fat part, in the middle, is where most Buyers are likely to fall. The “right tail” is every seller’s dream: the relocation from Tokyo who has unlimited funds, no time to shop . . . and falls in love with your home. The “left tail” is the opposite: a disappointing sales price, obtained months (or years) after first hitting the market, multiple price reductions, etc.

I’ll also typically characterize the “comp’s” (comparable sold properties) as being “tight” or “loose”: when three identical homes have sold nearby in the last few months, the comp’s are tight, and the likely selling range for the subject home is narrow. By contrast, when the subject home is more unique, and nothing similar has sold nearby recently, the projected sales range is wider.

Because of these pricing nuances, and variations among Sellers in how aggressive, patient (or impatient), etc. they are about getting a deal, the decision about initial asking price is necessarily theirs.

However, when a prospective client completely discards your analysis and selects an asking price that is literally off the charts, it’s time to rethink whether you have the time and money to wait for them to become more realistic

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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