2 Home Seller True Stories That Will Shock You
What follows are true stories that I have personally experienced. I work with buyers and sellers of all price ranges. Most are great to work with and cooperative with my efforts to great success.
However, these two will probably stand out to me the most because they are both related to one another in that they were direct neighbors living across the street from one another.
I’m sharing these stories to point out just how a homeowner can delay or sabotage his/her own efforts to sell their property. Homeowners take note!
When I came along, both of these homeowners were frustrated in their attempts to find a buyer. I first met with neighbor #1. Let’s call him the “Gate Keeper”. He had a lovely 2-story home, 3,411 SF, 4BD/3.5BA home on a golf course with some nice distance to the green and the cart path. He tried selling as a For Sale By Owner on and off for nearly two years.
He made it clear to me that he didn’t have a very high opinion of Realtors. Oh great. I stayed behind after the showing to talk to the seller. He liked the way I showcased the home’s features to my client as we walked around the house. After another meeting and some discussion, he decided to give me a shot at selling his house.
I would have had that home sold in just a few short weeks had the seller not interfered with each of the showings. He demanded that certain requirements be met before a buyer could so much as view the home. He probably would have charged an entrance fee if he thought he could get away with it!
One night, he called me frantically to accuse me and/or the other few agents who have managed to show the house, of stealing his wife’s jewelry. I suggested she placed it somewhere to hide it as I had originally suggested when we first discussed listing the house for sale.
He repeated his accusation towards me more than once and said he was about to call the police. I told him to go ahead and do that if he felt it necessary but that perhaps they both continue to look a little longer.
Less than an hour later, I get a text message from him simply saying, “she found it.” No apology was forthcoming. Nice guy.
Needless to say, his insistence that buyers first provide him with proof of funds, prior to even seeing the home, created a great deal of blowback directed at me. It took me three months to convince the seller to get out of the way. Two weeks later, I had the buyer and the house under contract.
For months I had been showing homes to this seller and his wife. They then told me they had decided to buy from a new home builder and cut me out of the deal.
When I confronted him on this, he said pointed to his phone and said that I had yelled at his wife during a discussion. I never did that at all and I told him so. Then he said that I had sent her a text in all caps. I was absolutely dumbfounded with this line of reasoning.
I did send one text in all caps by accident, not really all that aware that it was a faux pas at the time. I said “sorry for the caps” and that was the end of it or so I thought.
Honestly! These folks were so harsh without cause or reason to be. Your Realtor is not your enemy, quite the contrary, we have a fiduciary duty (just like lawyers & doctors) to act in and protect your best interests. I take that seriously and strive to live up to that each and every time.
Neighbor #2 an elderly widower, contacted me directly after speaking with “the Gate Keeper” shortly after listing his home with me. This was also a premium home in the same high-end suburb in Livingston county. He had been trying to sell his custom home on and off for two years. This homeowner was reaching the end of his contract with a ReMax agent with no offers when he contacted me directly.
Unlike the other homes in the subdivision, this one was the smallest of them all, albeit had many nice upgrades. It was one and a half story home with a two-car garage. All other homes around him and in the subdivision had three or four-car garages.
The real Achilles heel of this property was that it virtually had little backyard space to speak of. It was situated only feet from the paved golf cart trail on the private course. There was a small patio though that was big enough for a small table and chairs. This home offered 3BD/3.5BA and 3,800 SF living space. He was overpriced and insisted I list at his price of $619K whereas all indications were the house would sell below $600K.
Unlike his neighbor, this seller did not interfere with showings at all. In just a few short weeks, we had a cash buyer who also requested some of the seller’s furniture pieces. My seller was offended at this which was surprising to me since his plans were to dramatically downsize to a senior living community in Florida.
So I met with the seller the next day and was told under no uncertain terms would he sell to that buyer. I was taken back by this statement and tried to get some further clarification as to why considering it was a very good offer.
The seller said he did some “research” into the buyer and decided that the buyer was not of the right caliber for the neighborhood. It had nothing to do with race but rather that the buyer was a local small businessman who had recently sold his business.
It is my understanding that the seller had erroneously surmised that the buyer was not wealthy enough to live in the neighborhood. I was absolutely stunned! “He’s paying cash!” I said. The seller then responded that the only reason he’s paying cash is that he sold his business. I remember saying, “Quite frankly, this buyer’s finances are none of your business. Do you want to sell the house or not?”
Now, keep in mind that this same seller had been trying to find a buyer since 2014, three years prior to me coming on the scene and here I was presenting him with a generous cash offer. Nothing I said would change his thinking.
That was it for me. Realizing that this seller was willing to turn down a cash offer of $600K simply because the buyer didn’t measure up in the seller’s eyes. I knew it was a dead-end and I terminated the listing that day.
Recalling it all, it still amazes me when I think about it. Needless to say, he employed two more brokerages afterward before finally selling the property at $575K. That’s $35K less and 18 months later. What a shame!
The lesson here is, don’t get in the way of your own efforts!
Both sellers made some common and some not so common mistakes here. Both fell victim to presuppositions they each made.
- Both had made presumptions of the expertise that Realtors can provide. That thinking caused them to form their own opinion that they could do better on their own. They tried to sell as For Sale By Owners for nearly two years. Whenever I ask someone as to why they have a negative opinion of Realtors, I never seem to get a solid answer. Granted some professionals are better than others, but it’s a mistake to place them all in the same basket.
- One seller, in particular, chose to ignore my recommendations thus stalling my efforts to find a homebuyer for three months. Realtors are engaged in the buying and selling process all day long, every day. We know a few things! Listen to the experts.
- Because they lived in premium neighborhoods, they let that fact go to their heads. In one case, he felt it necessary to “vet” potential buyers prior to giving them access to see the property. In the other, he discriminated against a buyer whom he considered financially inferior for the neighborhood. Don’t get ahead of yourself or as my mother would say, “don’t cut your nose off, to spite your face.”
- One seller did not know how to negotiate and took offers for the purchase of his furniture as an insult. Most sellers would welcome the option of leaving some big furniture pieces behind, saving some money during the move. Don’t be so easily offended during the negotiating process. Questions are asked and answered. This is, after all, strictly a business transaction.
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What lessons can you derive from these true accounts? Feel free to share your own.