Listing Scripts: Smart Answers to Sellers' Concerns

Sellers need your help more than ever, but they’re wary about putting their home on the market. Four sample scripts will help you overcome objections that stand in the way of new listings.

June 1, 2008

A polished presentation isn’t enough to secure a listing in today’s market. You’ve got to be able to confidently answer sellers’ concerns and help them understand how their local conditions affect the pricing and sale of their property. Sales experts helped us develop four scenarios that represent some of the most common objections you’ll hear from sellers. Use these sample scripts to prepare yourself for your next listing appointment.

1. “We’re not ready to list yet because we’d like to find a new home first.”

You: “Let’s talk about that and figure out what you need. Do you need to sell your home to purchase your new property?”

Seller: “Yes.”

You: “OK, let’s talk about that. If I help you find your dream home before you’ve sold your current home, and we make an offer, our offer will be contingent on the sale of your property. Most sellers don’t want to deal with a contingency, so making this type of offer puts you in a weaker negotiating position. That may mean that even if the sellers accept your contingency offer, you’ll have to pay more. Do you see why that’s a weaker negotiation position?”

Seller: “Yes, but I still don’t think it wouldn’t hurt to look at some homes first.”

You: “OK. Let’s talk about the other side of this equation — the selling side. If you’ve signed a contract to buy a home and then you put your home up for sale, you’re more likely to be willing to take less money for your current home because you’ll want to get your home sold in a hurry. I know you want the most money possible for this home since you’re planning on buying a larger place. Do you see how finding a new home before putting your current home on the market may lead to you losing on both ends of the transaction?”

Seller: “Yes, but what I’m still worried about not having enough time to find the home I want if I list my home first.”

You: As you probably realize, home sales are slower than they were a year or two ago, so it could take [insert your local average days on market] to sell your home. I think it will be less because you’ve priced it right, but you can’t be certain. Plus, even after your home is sold, it usually takes 60 days to close the sale. Although I understand you don’t want to have to move without finding a new home you love, I think it makes sense to get your home on the market before you start your search.”

Seller: “OK, I see what you’re saying. Let’s talk some more about listing my home.”

Source: Chad Goldwasser, sales associate, Keller Williams Southwest Market Center, Austin, Texas

2. “We’re interviewing other salespeople, and we’d like to think over the decision of listing with you.”

You: “That’s just fine. I’ll call in a day or two to see if you have additional questions. Before I go, was there something in my presentation that you’d like me to cover in more detail? Or any questions about the selling process that you’d like me to answer?”

Sellers: “No. You’ve answered everything. We just need more time to think.”

You: “I understand that it’s a big decision. But I know that you’re looking to sell your home quickly, and if we can sign a listing contract tonight, I would still have time to do an open house on the property this weekend. I’d also be able to send out invitations to all the top agents I know in town so they could bring over buyers.”

Sellers: “We do want to get moving on selling this house, but I don’t want to limit my options. No, we just want to cover all of our bases. We’re leaning toward you, but we need time to think about it.”

You: “Here’s an idea. If you’d like, we can put our agreement together right now, and I’ll post-date it. If you don’t want to work with me, I’ll rip it up. And if you decide to work with me, we’ll be ready to hit the ground running.”

Sellers: “That should save some time. Let’s do that.”

Sources: Chad Goldwasser, sales associate, Keller Williams Southwest Market Center, Austin, Texas; Carol Kellogg, sales associate, Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks, Calif.; Carol Royse, sales associate, Keller Williams Realty East Valley, Tempe, Ariz.

3. “We really liked your marketing ideas, but another agent told us he thinks we could get $300,000 for our house, while you recommended a price of $250,000. We want to get the most we can, so we’re thinking about listing with him.”

You: “Let’s talk about that. Here’s exactly what’s happening in the market. [Here’s where you need to produce current data on local housing inventory.] We have X homes on the market right now, and we have X selling per month. That means we have X months of supply for buyers to choose from. You told me you wanted to sell your home in X months, correct? With X properties are coming on the market every month, not to mention the number of foreclosures and short sales, you’d agree that pricing the property is important today, wouldn’t you?”

Sellers: “Yes, but our home has lots of upgrades.”

You: “Your home does have many upgrades. However, I’ve shown you the most recent sales in your neighborhood, and many of those homes had similar upgrades. That’s why I’m recommending a price of X. That’s what buyers are willing to pay today. Based on what you’re reading in the papers, do you believe that buyers will offer more or less than the last closed sale?”

Sellers: “I guess they’ll offer less. But still, the other sales associate we spoke with recommended a higher price.”

You: “All of the sales associates in our area are pulling the same MLS data, so while there’s some opinion involved, I wouldn’t expect prices to vary by more than 3 percent to 4 percent. I certainly don’t want to say anything negative about a competitor, but some practitioners are so eager for a listing that they will tell you what they think you want to hear in order to get your business.”

Sellers: “Yes, but why can’t we try this price and see what happens?”

You: “If you really feel strongly, we can begin by listing the property at $300,000. But statistics show that most buyers come to look at a house in the first 30 days after the listing goes on the market. Sellers who are willing to price their home correctly in the beginning and take their profits with them win when compared with sellers who hold out and end up reducing their price further down the road. All you end up doing is taking longer to sell. And often you don’t get any more money.”

Sellers: “We’d like to sell our home quickly.”

You: “Great. Shall we get started with the paperwork and use $250,000 price.”

Source: Tom Ferry, CEO and head coach, TomFerry-yourcoach, Newport Beach, Calif.

4. “Even though we like you, you’re the first agent we’ve talked to. I just think it’s too soon to make a decision to list with you. We should probably interview others."

You: “I understand. Your home is a valuable asset and you want to make the best business decision. I do have a favor to ask, though. I really believe that I can do the best job for you. Would you be willing to let me come and talk to you again at tomorrow, after you’ve talked with the other agents? I want a chance to see if there’s anything more I can do for you before you make a final decision.”

Seller: “Well, I guess so, but we can just let you know by phone.”

You: “Yes, you could, but if I come over and you decide to let me represent you, I can take the pictures of the house right then and get your home listed on the MLS that day. The sooner we begin marketing your home, the sooner I’ll be able to find you a buyer.”

Seller: “Well, I guess that would save us time later on. We’re seeing the other agent at 2 o’clock on Saturday. Can you come over after that?”

You: “Of course, I’ll be here at 3 o’clock, if that’s works for you. Then we can be done before dinner time.”

freelance writer

G.M. Filisko is a Chicago area freelance and former editor for REALTOR® Magazine.