The other day, I received a call from Mr. Seller. Mr. Seller was referred to me by an acquaintance. Mr. Seller started the “phone interview” by saying he was looking to sell his house and he had ONE very important question for me. Assuming his question was going to be about commission, I sat straight up preparing for my reply.
The question was, “are you a full-time Realtor?” Shoot. I was able to answer that one with CONFIDENCE, and I did. “Yes, sir. I’m a full-time Realtor working seven days a week, and often after 5:00.” We spoke for a few more minutes, and of course, before we hung up the phone, he eventually asked about my Broker fee.
Every time I meet with or speak to a new customer, it’s a job interview for me. While most folks can go to one job interview, get hired and then end up with a 10-year anniversary watch, I’m job hunting every day… and have been for almost 15 years. It’s always a new challenge, and I take it very seriously.
This recent “phone interview,” was just the first step to a potential new listing. The unique thing about my business is, I’m interviewing them, too.
LET’S TALK FACE-TO-FACE
I went on my face-to-face interview and met with Mr. and Mrs. Seller. They asked me several questions about staging and showcasing, and I obliged offering a few helpful tips. They asked about my advertising and my marketing, and I was prepared with a list of web sites and a marketing plan I commit to with every listing.
I asked them how much they were thinking about selling their property for and, like many first-time sellers, they responded with an over-inflated price. I was upfront and honest letting them know they were reaching a little high, but with a few changes and upgrades, they could get very close to what they wanted.
And then it happened… While I was on cruise control during most of the face-to-face interview, a road block appeared out of nowhere. I had to tap on my mental “brakes” and pull over.
Mr. Seller asked me about my Broker fee (which is expected). No problem. But, before the subject came up, he was already refusing to pay a buyer’s closing costs. ROAD BLOCK! He was debating an issue that wasn’t on the table, yet. I understand where he was going with it and why he was disclosing this so early, but this road block is a potential hazard.
Regarding the Broker fee, he seemed okay since it wasn’t far from other Broker’s quotes. But I was a little surprised with the closing cost issue (knowing today’s market). Here is where a listing agent can either educate the seller about real estate reality or simply choose not to take the job. I chose to stick it out and help Mr. Seller understand today’s market.
MR. SELLER’S REBUTTAL
Turns out, Mr. Seller just bought a newer house. He offered around $20,000 less and got the house. The stipulation was, he had to pay his own closing costs. Now, because he had to pay his own closing costs, he wants the buyer who buys his listing to do the same.
I quickly explained to Mr. Seller that if he leaves this road block up, he might force buyers in a different direction. It’s VERY possible that the buyer who buys this 42 year old home will be a first-time home buyer, and most first-timers will not have $10,000 saved. If they did, they’d probably buy a newer, more upgraded home… (like he did)
THE END OF THE INTERVIEW
Mr. Seller said he and his wife had to talk things over and make a decision. He said he’d call me in a couple of hours. I asked if there was anything more I can help clarify or any questions I can answer before I left. He had a couple of other question about closing fees, so I gladly answered and went on my way.
About three hours later, I called Mr. Seller since he hadn’t followed up with me, yet. I was hoping that my eagerness was a positive sign about my work ethic. Well, Mr. Seller wasn’t ready to give me an answer. He was still contemplating about paying a Buyer’s closing costs. I tried offering some relief by suggesting we wait for an offer first. What if a buyer doesn’t ask for closing costs? He would have wasted time worrying about it. But, if a buyer does ask for closing costs, I needed him to be prepared for it.
Mr. Seller told me he would call me the next day and we hung up the phone. And like any job interview, I was feeling a little anxious. If Mr. and Mrs. Seller can see the big picture and if they agree with my listing advice, I can sell this house… NO DOUBT. But, if they place roadblocks on the road to home-ownership (so early in the game) and refuse to have an open mind about buyers in today’s market, I’m not sure we’re going to be a good match.
I wrote a quick letter thanking the Sellers for meeting with me and that I looked forward to working with them. While they were out to dinner, I drove by their house and delivered the letter to their doorstep. And then I waited…
“SORRY, WE’RE GOING TO PASS.”
I got the call today. Mr. and Mrs. Seller decided not to hire me. Mr. Seller thanked me for opening his eyes to things he hadn’t thought about, and that was the end of that.
Sure, there’s a little disappointment because I work so hard for every job I “interview” for, but I also realize it’s not realistic to be the perfect match for every listing, every seller or every buyer. In the end, I can hold my head up knowing I offered the best service I can offer.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When I take on a listing, I represent the seller’s best interest and help him/her earn top dollar. If a seller doesn’t want to pay closing costs for a buyer, he/she does not have to. If a seller doesn’t want to make changes to a house to help sell faster, he/she doesn’t have to.
However, if the house were not to sell or if the listing stayed on the market for months, who would be to blame? Regardless of the reasons and the choices a seller makes, the fault will fall on the Listing Agent. And if a listing agent cannot stand firm on listing expectations from the get-go, how will a seller believe we can stand firm when it’s time to negotiate a contract?
I may not have gotten the job this time, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have an affect on me. But the bright side is, there’s more real estate to sell. Last Friday, I met a different seller for the first time. She was referred to me by a past client. Ms. Seller, opened the door, greeted me with a hug, offered cookies and was ready to sign wherever I asked her to. Yeah, I’d have to say that’s a perfect match! 🙂
The road to her listing has NO ROAD BLOCKS WHATSOEVER!
A young, six year old home in Hummingbird Estates (San Antonio, TX near Highway 90 and 1604). A three bedroom, two bath home with two living and two dining areas. It may not seem like it from the curb, but this home has almost 2000 square feet! This home, built by Classic Century Homes, is still under the builder’s 10-year warranty.
If you’d like more information or a tour of this gorgeous home, fill out the quick form below. I’ll be in touch with you and schedule your showing immediately!
Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.