Passing on Unsaleable Listings

Want a good Realtor to list (and ideally, sell) your home?

In a Twin Cities market full of fussy Buyers and lots of inventory (with notable exceptions), you’d better meet the following three criteria.

One.  Be motivated.

No, “motivated” doesn’t mean “desperate.”

To a Realtor, a “motivated seller” is someone who’s willing to work with their Realtor to get their home in the best possible condition prior to putting it on the market.

Then, once their home is for sale, the homeowner keeps it in tip-top condition; cooperates with Buyers’ agents who want to show it; acts upon constructive showing feedback, etc.

Two.  Have a good location.

Buyers with lots of choices naturally gravitate towards strong neighborhoods — and shun weak ones.

Lots of nearby foreclosures and short sales raise the selling bar considerably (unfair as that may be to “traditional” sellers).  

Three.  Be willing to price realistically.  

A seller who’s done all the prep their Realtor has recommended and has a great location can still torpedo their home sale.


By overpricing (see, The Serenity Prayer — Realtor’s Version“). 

“Pricing realistically” means choosing an asking price informed by the “Comp’s” or comparable sold properties — that is, similar, nearby homes that have sold in the last six months (or more recently).

That’s how listing agents determine value, that’s how appraisers working for lenders determine value . . . and it’s how Buyers and their agents determine value.

Sellers who overshoot the indicated price range inevitably discover — much to their chagrin — that they need to dangle a discounted price in front of Buyers much later in the listing.

“Caveat Venditor” (Would-Be Home Seller Beware)

So, do all Realtors heed the foregoing requirements in deciding which listings to take?

Certainly not.

In particular, at least some Realtors will take an overpriced listing from an unmotivated Seller if the location is strong enough.

Their rationale?

They may not sell their client’s home — but the exposure will attract serious Buyers to whom they can sell other, nearby homes which are more attractively priced.

Plus, the Realtor’s name will be on a big “For Sale” sign — for months and months — where lots of people will see it (“free marketing!”). 

P.S.:  There’s a cheeky Realtor line — which I’ve certainly thought to myself, but never uttered — that one supposedly says to a Seller with unrealistic price expectations:  ‘If I can’t be your first Realtor . . . maybe I can be your last.”

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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