The 7 Deadly Sins of Home Sellers, According to Agents

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house on fireEvery industry has certain things that raise the blood pressure of its practitioners, or in some extreme cases, causes them to buy little dolls and a set of stick pins. Real-estate agents are no exception. Given that they work on commission and often spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars marketing a home with no guarantee of seeing a nickel back unless it sells, perhaps there is some justification to what they consider misbehavior on the part of their clients.

Here are the top 7 Deadly Sins in the mind of your real estate agent:

1) Disloyalty. Some sellers think that by changing listing agents, a whole new crop of potential buyers will miraculously appear. That rarely happens. If a house isn't selling, chances are it's more about the price than the agent. Sure, if your agent doesn't return calls or answer your questions satisfactorily, dump the dude. But finding a good listing agent is pretty simple. Interview at least three, eliminate any relatives in the pack and pick the one with the best track record for selling homes in your neighborhood that are similar to yours. Need help knowing what to ask them? Try this list of questions provided by the National Association of Realtors.

Disloyal buyers are right up there with disloyal sellers. A buyer's agent spends hours researching listings, prescreening the properties, scheduling showings and driving clients around as gas inches toward $4.50 a gallon. Some buyers shop for months before making an offer and then when they do, they make it through a different agent. The agent who presents the successful offer is the one who gets the fat paycheck. The agent who chauffeured you around all those many months goes home empty-handed.

2) Dishonesty--about your intentions, financial resources, loan status, needs and preferences, etc. You and your agent need to have a relationship built on trust. What's the point of lying about what you can afford or what you owe? Agents are obligated to protect your confidentiality. Loose lips not only sink ships, they also wreck real estate deals. Your reasons for selling (lost your job, facing foreclosure, need to move for a new position) are confidential between you and your agent because they convey information about how desperate you are to sell. Your agent can't blab it, but he needs to know about it to give you the best service he can.



3) Refusing advice. When something ails you, do you go to the doctor and then opt not to take the medicine she prescribes? Why use a professional if you don't want her advice? Yes, it makes sense to ask questions, but if all the other homes on your street are selling for $400,000, yours should not be listed at $700,000. Put it in perspective: Agents help people buy and sell hundreds of homes in the course of their careers; at most, a homeowner will buy and sell just a few properties in a lifetime. Who knows more?

4) Getting in the way. Nothing can throw a wet blanket on the party faster than having the seller around during showings or open houses. The goal is for potential buyers to be able to imagine themselves in your home, which is near impossible to do if you insist on hanging around. Take a walk, and absolutely take the dog with you.

5) Being disorganized. Getting a loan these days requires jumping through hoops. Buyers need to be well-organized and stay on top of things to meet deadlines. Not getting all the paperwork in order for your loan application can cause a deal to go south. And from the stories we hear, the mortgage application process continues to grow more arduous and paper-intensive.

6) Being a slob. Sellers who fail to keep their homes in "show shape" are a particular bugaboo of Pat Vredevoogd Combs, a broker with Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt in Grand Rapids, Michigan and a past president of NAR. Put simply: Buyers react negatively to bad housekeeping, she says, especially now when market inventory is so high. If you plan to sell your house, you likely will be getting rid of a lot of stuff anyway. Why not do it in the beginning of the listing process, when it might actually do even more good?

7) Not being responsive. Combs says she has heard every reason in the book why a seller can't be inconvenienced by a home showing, including that the wife needed to wash her hair. Kids' piano lessons can be rescheduled. In this market, jump for joy every time your agent finds someone to show your house to. And remember, it's the house that needs to be clean, not your hair.

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