Rich Levin is a national real estate speaker and sales coach. His company, Rich Levin's Success Corps Inc., Rochester, N.Y., takes a "whole business approach" to coaching, focusing not only on essential sales skills such as presenting and prospecting, but also quality of life and personal finance. Contact Levin at 585-244-2700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
8 Common Seller Problems (and How to Resolve Them)
If you're working in real estate, you're bound to run into one of these problems. But if you address them early and honestly, they shouldn't present major obstacles for your transaction.
July 1, 2011
Do you ever clash with sellers on price, staging, or marketing? Has someone ever asked you to lower your commission? Has a seller’s personality ever rubbed you the wrong way?
If you work in real estate—and you aren’t exclusively a buyer’s agent—then the answer to those questions is almost certainly yes. But unless you’re working with someone who’s incredibly dense and obstinate, these problems don’t have to slow down the selling process.
Note that the problems below don’t apply just to real estate professionals. In fact, they’re even bigger issues for sellers. These cost them time, money, and aggravation, and disrupt their lives far more than their agents’.
1. Sellers can be uncooperative on price.
2. Sellers frequently believe that the way they live in the house is the way they can sell the house.
3. Sellers are often unprepared for low appraisals.
4. Most sellers aren’t negotiation experts. They may bring expectations and anxiety that make everyone’s experience more difficult.
5. Sellers can be uncooperative on commission and might even request a reduction.
6. Sellers regularly have unrealistic demands concerning showings, advertising, marketing, and communication.
7. Agents and sellers may have personality conflicts.
8. Sellers might not be aware of all the closing costs.
Solving these problems gets sellers’ homes sold faster, for more money, and with less stress.
The Universal Solution in Two Parts
Before we get into the solution, it’s important to point out that owners don’t fully understand the entire process of selling a home. These problems would occur far less or not at all if agents could give them a crash course on selling, in which the practitioners covered these issues in a frank way. If that happened, I believe that sellers would be more cooperative.
The universal solution in two parts is first to ask the seller specific questions over the phone and at the beginning of the listing presentation as the agent is establishing rapport. These include:
▪ “Have you done much research to determine the asking price or how to sell a house?”
▪ (If yes) “We’ll talk more when we get together, but what are some of the more important things you discovered?”
▪ “Why are you thinking of selling?”
▪ “Where are you going?”
▪ “Is there an ideal time frame to have the move complete?”
▪ “The tax records indicate that you bought it x years ago, is that correct?”
▪ “Have you refinanced?”
Similar to how a doctor asks patients about their health history, this process gives the sellers confidence in the thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and ability of practitioners.
The second part of the universal solution is for real estate pros to build a listing presentation that addresses each of these problems before they arise. Details on how to do that are below:
1. If they’re uncooperative on price, prepare a very thorough comparative market analysis. Show sellers all the research that you used to select the properties you chose for the final CMA. Offer your pricing recommendation, but let sellers choose — and “own” — the list price.
2. Sellers believe the way they live in their house is the way they can sell it. Ask sellers if they are planning to do any work to prepare it for the sale. If they are, use your judgment to determine whether they will follow through or not. Share examples and anecdotes of how house cleaning, reorganizing, renovations, and so forth have helped homes sell faster and for more money.
3. Describe the entire pending process, from offer acceptance to closing. As you go through this, cover other stumbling blocks and how you work to prevent or address them.
4. Go over the entire negotiating process, from interested buyers to accepted offer. Also, explain pitfalls and emotional turbulence and describe how you will be their advocate.
5. If they’re uncooperative on commission, sometimes you will simply have to walk away. When possible, build so much value into your marketing plan that sellers are reluctant to even ask you to adjust your commission.
6. Show proof that what you do works. Continuously check for agreement. If and when they challenge you, make a note and return to it after they are impressed with your entire effort.
7. When it comes to personality conflicts, make sure you’re self-aware. Determine your personality style, and your strengths and weaknesses. Learn to recognize others’ personality types, and figure out which will naturally conflict with yours. Learn strategies for adapting.
8. Get sellers’ mortgage balances. Find out what else they plan to pay off with the proceeds. Then complete a detailed net sheet. Use a conservative sale price. Inflate the numbers a bit, so you can assure them it will likely be more in their pocket.
All of these bases can be covered either in conversations with owners over the phone before making an appointment or during the listing presentation. Top practitioners have spent years interacting, building, rehearsing, presenting, adjusting, and improving. Solving these problems consistently comes out of that effort.