Ten Sure-Fire Ways To Fail To Sell Your Home

Go It Alone

This one is a no-brainer. Most people who put their home on the market without a real estate broker do so in order to "save the commission," yet the first question I ask a "FSBO" is whether or not they will pay me if I bring them a buyer. I have never had a home owner say "No." In this market, I could not imagine anyone even thinking of turning down help in getting their home sold.

But here´s the rub. If they put the home on the market as a "FSBO," yet are willing to pay a broker, then they are really only trying to save 1/2 the commission. They freely admit they will pay the broker working for the buyer. Hmmmm. OK, so now when my buyer sees the house and sees it is a FSBO, they say "surely the Seller will drop their price because they are not paying a broker."  And they do.

So what really happens (8% of the time when a FSBO does sell a home) is that they pay a commission to the one real estate broker on the planet working against them. Then they give the other half to the buyer! Genius. The one thing that homeowners who are considering going it alone never consider is that only 1 person in a 2 person agreement can "save money." If you want to be the one that saves, then you better retain a great real estate broker.

Casually Choose Your Real Estate Company

The second biggest mistake out there is thinking that all real estate companies (and all real estate agents and brokers) are alike. Big mistake. The fact is, real estate is an industry that is easy to enter and many people do so every year. In fact, the National Association of REALTORS® once published a report showing that 9 out of 10 people who get into real estate are out of the business within their first year.

Selling a home is typically a very important, and costly event for most people. It typically involves their most expensive asset, so it always blows my mind when they pick their friend who "also does real estate." Think about it, in every profession you have the "best in the business," and then you have everybody else. Why trust this most precious asset to somebody who cannot deliver the very best for you? How can anybody who does our business part-time compete with those of us who do it full time?

If you want to fail to sell your home:

  • Do not take your time and interview not only the agent, but also the broker of the company.
  • Do not find out what their strategy is.
  • Do not find out what their qualifications are.

Hey, you are going to spend thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars on this service, so do not bother to choose the real estate broker who best knows how to help you.

Reduce The Commission

OK, this one is actually a little bit like the one above. If you reduce the commission (meaning that you are going to pay the broker less than the other homeowners that you are competing against), who do you think the agents will be promoting?

Real estate agents work for commissions. They feed their families with commission dollars, they pay their car payments with commission dollars, and they plan to retire one day using their commission dollars. So don´t be so quick to think that they aren´t paying attention to how much money they will earn when they are showing properties to their buyers.

There are 3,000 homes for sale in the area. While you love your home and think about it as "one of a kind," the hard fact is that it is a commodity. You have competition and anybody who understands marketing will tell you a critical element in selling your home is product separation (standing apart from the crowd). The key is to do this in a positive light, not in a negative one. Telling all the real estate agents in the community that you pay less than the other 3,000 of your competition is an excellent start in failing to sell your home.

Price Your Home Too High

In the old days, before computers were tracking all the homes for sale in the area, a common method for marketing a home was to put a high price on it and then "let people bring you offers." This made great sense, as you know everybody wants a deal, so you might as well build in some wiggle room.

Another reason that this method was not so bad is that real estate always appreciated! No matter what price you put on the home, eventually the market would catch up to it and you would be able to sell your home. But not now. Prices are dropping. If you are overpriced today, the market is not catching up, it is leaving you behind.

You have to understand the process that real estate buyers utilize when starting their search for a home. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, over 80% of them start on the internet and look for properties there. Again, with over 3,000 homes for sale, you can imagine they put in a few parameters to reduce the list of homes that they need to view.

The first parameter most use is price. So, let´s look at an example. Say Mr. and Mrs. Jones want to buy a home. They meet with one of my Prudential Fox & Roach Buyer Agents who qualify them to purchase a home for $250,000. Knowing that the Jones only want to see the ideal home for them, our agent starts to narrow down the choices.

Since the Joneses will be spending $250,000, there is no need to look at homes that are too expensive, or at ones well below that which they can afford. So, to narrow down the list of homes to preview, the agent will put a price range (typically) for this from about $240K to $260K. That will give them hundreds of homes to narrow down with other features.

Now in this example, lets say you wanted to sell your home and were perfectly willing to let it go for $250K.  But you made a poor decision, and priced it at $275,000. Even if the Jones family would have loved your home, they would never have seen it. It would not have appeared in the list of hundreds of homes for them to view in the South Jersey Shore Regional MLS. Remember, you have tons of competition, and price is the first disqualifier.

Ignore The Market Feedback

If you listen really closely, the market will tell you everything you need to know. First of all, when real estate agents view your home, your listing broker needs to solicit their opinions on the home. How does the home show? How does it compare with other homes with similar asking prices? What did their buyers choose to buy rather than this home.

So the key to not selling your home is to either not ask the questions, or at least ignore the answers. Why bother getting feedback from people who didn´t buy the home? Your home is your castle and it will sell without any effort.

Demand "By Appointment Only"

This is one of my favorites. It probably belongs up higher on the list because it is so effective at chasing away real estate agents who would like to show your home. With over 3,000 homes on the market, of which nearly every one is available at the whim of the one or two active buyers out there, the key is to make it really difficult to see your home. How about requiring the showing agent to call a few days in advance in order to earn the privilege to see the home!

I know most people who ask for this do it out of ignorance. But if you want to fail to sell your home, you are going to have to demand that "No Lockbox" be put on your home, and that all showing agents must register with the listing agent well in advance to getting in to see the home. Even though common courtesy would hold agents to this standard, the fact is sometimes we get an excited buyer who just wants to "see it now." Sometimes, the buyer sees the sign as we are driving them to another showing and says "ooh, how about that one!" In order to avoid selling it to excited buyers, make sure they cannot see your home through the combination of "no lockbox" and "appointment only."

Talk With The Buyers Directly

This is another really good way to fail to sell your home. You see, buyers have all sorts of questions when they see your house for the first time, so it is important that you stay inside the home during a showing so that you can answer all of their questions. Also, they will never know all the interesting stories that you have about the home unless you share them with them during the showing. The showing agent will really appreciate you sticking around. Not!

The fact is, most people are very polite. If you are in the home, they will not let the showing agent know of any areas of concern about your home, because they do not want to offend you. They will complement everything about the home and then want to get out of there as soon as possible, because they will feel like they are intruding upon you.

If you leave your home when it is being shown, then buyers will be more open and honest with the showing agent, allowing a good salesperson to work through any objections and answer questions in a fashion that could lead to a sale. But since you do not want to sell your home, stand right in the middle of the kitchen and say "what do you think?"

Hire The Best, Then Ignore Their Advice

If you were unfortunate enough to heed the advice given in point #2, but you casually selected a great real estate company, then it will be important for you to ignore the advice of the agents and brokers of that company. Good companies just have one agenda, and that is to solve your real estate problem by getting your home sold.

If you truly want to fail in selling your home, you might actually want to consider doing the opposite of what the real estate company tells you. Demand open houses and more advertising, but don´t do anything about pet odors and worn out carpeting.

When the brokers tell you that a price reduction will bring some activity, you need to counter back with something strong (tell them to remove the lockbox and demand "appointment only"). Remember, you are king of the castle, and just because you accidentally hired an excellent real estate professional does not mean you need to consider their advice!

Make It Personal

The thing that most successful home sellers realize early on is that they want a "housectomy." They are seeking to get rid of what was once their home, but now is just an unwanted house. But you cannot stoop to this level! If you want to fail to sell your home, you have to make this personal.

Forget the fact that you are really now trying to get somebody else to take possession of your home and focus on the things that you personally love about the home. If somebody doesn´t like the way the home is decorated, then they obviously have something against you and your way of living. Make sure you defend every improvement you ever made to the home, because nobody is going to undervalue your efforts. After all, you need to make this personal. Try not to focus on the reasons why you chose to move, but rather on all of the things that will keep you in your house forever!

This is actually the toughest one (note, sarcasm on hold for one paragraph). We spend so much time in our homes and we create such fond memories that it is often hard to turn the home back into a house. But it is a critical aspect of the home selling process. (ok, sarcasm reinstated).

Don´t Let The Buyer Beat You!

OK, let´s just say that you screwed up the previous points and you actually managed to get an offer on your home. Don´t throw in the towel now! There is still time left for you to fail to sell your home.

When the buyer does the home inspection, the inspector will probably find quite a few things wrong with your home (can you believe the gall of this guy?). Well, here is where you want to show your negotiating prowess. If you want to fail to sell your home, tell the buyer how lucky he is to even have a shot at living in your home. Why should you agree to replace termite damage, they were probably there when you purchased the house, right?

Some of the most successful home selling failures have allowed $500 to stand between them and a sold home. These are the great ones that won´t budge a bit, not wanting to be beaten by a buyer. Sure, they´ll live in the house a few extra months (years), but it sure beats giving up on a week´s worth of interest payments!

Tips For Home Selling Good To Know

So, I hope this has helped you in some way prepare to fail to sell your home. Of course, you could just use some reverse psychology and use this list to better prepare you for a successful home sale. Regardless, selling a home is not rocket science, and a little preparation can get you to the result that you are seeking.

Lou and Carolyn Mogano
Lou and Carolyn Mogano
Realtor Marketing & Sales Assoc.
3620 Atlantic-Brigantine Blvd Brigantine NJ 08203