There are lots of old jokes about things you don’t want to hear; like, “Oops!” when you’re lying there awake on the brain surgery operating table or, if you’re on an ocean crossing flight: “This is your Captain speaking, I just wanted to take this time to remind you that your seat cushions can be used as floatation devices…”
As a buyer or a seller, I’m relatively sure that you don’t really want to hear, “I just got my license last week and I’m so excited to have you as my first client.” It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the Realtor or with being their first client; in fact they work harder for you as a result and most Realtors belong to organizations that provide them with support and counsel as they get started. It’s just that you had probably hoped for a more experienced Realtor to handle your search or sale. There are other things that an experienced Realtor might say that you also may not want to hear, like, “Your expectations for what you can get for this place are way out of line with the market.” Sometimes that’s true and the agent will just feel like you need a cold dose of truth about value, in order not to waste a lot of time on the market with an overpriced house.
On the flip side, there are things that clients can say that make a Realtor cringe (inside if not so you could notice). One of the most often heard comments from would-be buyers that can give a Realtor a chill is the phrase, “I’ll know it when I see it.” That just tells the Realtor that the buyer doesn’t really have any firm ideas about what they want. Buyers would be well advised to take the time before meeting with a Realtor to make a list of must-haves and want-to-have items for their search. They should also have already met with a mortgage rep and have a mortgage pre-approval in hand to guide them (and the Realtor) on the price range that they can afford. The Realtor will normally want to discuss the buyer’s needs and desires before starting any search effort. As the search goes on, the Realtor will be constantly adjusting the list, as he/she gets experience with what works or doesn’t work for the buyer on each visit.
“I’m not in any hurry”, is another scary statement to make to a Realtor. It’s not that the Realtor wants you to hurry; however, the Realtor’s time has value and he/she can’t afford to waste a lot with a client that really doesn’t have any firm motivation to make offers or to buy. Realtors would much prefer a client(s) who has a lease deadline approaching or who have finally tired of living in the same bedroom that they were in when they left for college or young couples living in the basement of one of the parents. You don’t have to be in a hurry and I won’t try to hurry you; but, the Realtor does need to have a sense that you are ready and motivated to buy.
On the sell-side, there are a few statements that indicate that the Realtor is going to have to work hard to make the sale happen. “I’m not going to give it away,” is a favorite; as is, “It was good enough for me for 30 years, and it ought to be good enough for a buyer.” The Realtor is not asking you to give your home away; just to be reasonable about its worth on the current market. That is why the Realtor did the market analysis and gave you pricing advice in the first place. And that 30-year old roof or furnace or whatever, that is on its last legs is certainly not going to slip by the inspection and be good enough for a buyer. The buyer will either discount the offer price or ask for a concession to have those items replaced. That’s why the Realtor’s suggested price may have been lower than you expected in the first place. He/she was already factoring that in to the market value.
Another seller statement that portends problems for the Realtor is, “Let’s test the market at this price.” That usually means that the price is too high and that the house will set on the market until it gets stale. Many times it will end up selling for less than what the Realtor originally had in mind, because it sets there too long and people start to think that something in wrong with it. Another oft heard statement from sellers is, “My sister (brother, cousin, friend) is a Realtor in another state and she told me that my house should be worth $XXXXXX.” No one, including another Realtor, should ever try to advise someone about real estate pricing in another state. It’s not really possible for them to know the local market. Good Realtors, even if they are in other parts of the same state, will usually avoid giving pricing advice about properties out of their area of expertise.
Buyers can also drive Realtors crazy with this statement, “Let’s toss this low-ball offer in to see how serious (or desperate) the seller really is.” Buyers are often surprised when they get a rejection and not a counter-offer. Low-ball offers just offend sellers and often they will not entertain future, more serious offers from the same buyers. If you like the house, make a reasonable offer, based upon advice from your Realtor. Lobing in low-ball offers is a waste of everyone’s time.
Buyers and sellers often use this line, “I’ve bought and sold lots of house, so I know real estate.” Really, how nice for you. It’s great that you’ve had some experience with the real estate process. Hopefully, that means that the Realtor won’t have to teach you everything about the process; however, each transaction stands alone in terms of the property’s location and condition and the condition of the market at the time of the sale. Your real estate experience should tell you to do your part to make the house marketable and then step aside and let the Realtor do his/her job to market it.
The Realtor will be happy when he/she hears, “You’re the expert; I’m going to take your advice.” I think you both will be happy with the results.