A Real Estate Agent's Candid Advice for Buyers and Sellers

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After 10 years spent working as a real estate agent, Sara, who asked that we not use her real name, has no patience for aggravating customers. And she's not afraid to dump them. She says, "No commission is worth it when you're dealing with someone who makes your blood pressure rise."
Sara tells me, "I've had my share of crazy clients who battle every single piece of advice I give them. I told

After 10 years spent working as a real estate agent, Sara, who asked that we not use her real name, has no patience for aggravating customers. And she's not afraid to dump them. She says, "No commission is worth it when you're dealing with someone who makes your blood pressure rise."

Sara tells me, "I've had my share of crazy clients who battle every single piece of advice I give them. I told one seller, 'You left your dirty underwear on the floor. You cannot have your house on the market and do that.' The client said to me, 'I can't have the place spotless all the time.' And my answer to that would be, 'Look! You hired me, so listen to what I say.' But really, if you want to leave your underwear on the floor, you don't need an agent to tell you not to do it."

Also See: 11 Pointers From a Realtor

Just the simple oversight of leaving your coffee mug in the kitchen sink can be more harmful than you realize. Sara says if you want to sell your home quickly, "Make your house absolutely sparkle every morning when you leave for work. No excuses. If I were to sell my house, the first thing I would do is completely de-clutter every room. I would put half of my possessions in storage or throw them out to get top dollar."

Don't Waste Her Time by Overpricing

What else gets on Sara’s nerves? She says, "Don't dare overprice in this market. People will say, 'I don't want to drop the price, I'm not ready.' If the price is way too high, then you're just wasting my time." Sara says the first 14 days on the market are crucial because that's when your listing gets the most attention. "People think they have nothing to lose by aiming high at the beginning. They think they can drop the price if they don't get a lot of showings initially. But they've wasted the peak marketing period by listing at the wrong price. The longer you're on the market, the less likely you are to sell," she says.

"Sellers often think they need to price their home high so they have wiggle room in a negotiation. There's no law that says you need to negotiate. You can set a price and stay firm." She says round numbers reach the broadest audience. Sara explains that if you list your house at $499,999, you will miss buyers who are searching in the $500,000 to $600,000 range. It sounds obvious, but Sara says it's a common mistake.

An Insider's Negotiating Tip

Sara tells me that sometimes sellers want to flat-out reject offers instead of countering. "It's not smart. You should almost always counteroffer. The exception to that rule would be if the bid is so close to list price, a counteroffer would appear nuts and penny-pinching."

She gives some tips for negotiating the deal. "If you get an offer you like and you immediately accept, the buyer will automatically think, 'I should have bid lower.' Or they might wonder what's wrong with the place that you’re trying to unload it so quickly. If they really like the place, they will feel much better about their offer if you counter it a little bit, but not enough to run them off."

She continues, "Also, take a little time to counter, because they might think you're just throwing numbers out there if you counter instantly. If you take a day or two to think about it, it gives you more credibility about the value of your home. Then they are more likely to believe you on later issues that come up from a home inspection."

Continued on Page 2: A Real Estate Agent's Candid Advice for Buyers and Sellers

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