Hawaii Randy's Real Estate Opinions: It is Hard to Tell Sellers All of the Truth

It is Hard to Tell Sellers All of the Truth


  • You the REALTOR®, you walk into a potential listing and the home has a few (hundred) too many items in the house.  What do you say to the seller?
  • The seller wants $75,000 more than the home is worth.  Do you tell them the advice they got from their hairdresser neighbor or uncle from another town is a mile off?
  • The house is dirty, messy and has a bad smell (Big Dog).  Do you say lovely home, I am sure it will sell fast or do you tell it to them straight?
  • The orange bathroom walls and hot pink bedroom carpet is not going to be popular among buyers.  Do you say lovely choice of colors or do you talk about neutralizing?

These are among some of the basics we as REALTORS® deal with on a daily basis.  If you are a professional, you need to be honest and tell them the truth up front.  You also need to be diplomatic and not hurt feelings or insult anyone.  You are speaking about their home.  You are however an expert and they brought you in to help them, not stroke their ego.

Being professional includes preparing clients for the process ahead and keeping them informed.  I tell clients I would rather tell them the truth up front and not stand in front of them three months from now making lame excuses.  A true test of a professional is you ability to say no without insulting someone.  Most people understand no.  What really makes them angry is being mislead and later having to deal with the damages.

We are dealing with the most expensive item in their lives in most cases and we need to treat it as such.

To address clutter, I discuss making the space look as big as we can.  I also talk about what they loved about the home when they bought it and discuss how we can make the home better show that to potential buyers.  We also need to allow buyers to envision the home with their stuff in it.  If the walls are filled with family pictures and shelves have a ton of collectables they will not be able to place themselves in there.  In some cases bringing in a professional stager may be the solution.  If the seller does not except my advice, they may accept it from a staging professional.

The pet question is a big one.  Many pet owners are immune to the smell.  I delicately discuss that many buyers do not have pets and detect the smell easily.  I also mention that many buyers and/or their children have allergies to pet dander and fur.  Hopefully when I begin the discussion, they pick up on it and make it easier for me.

The loud colors I handle with my famous speech about staging.  I tell sellers there is two ways to stage a home.  We can stage it to live in it and we can stage it to sell.  Staging to sell requires that we neutralized and depersonalize.  I have had a few clients resist by telling my how much they love something.  In the most tactful way I can I remind them they are not going to be living here and we need to prepare it for the new owners.  In most cases the sellers have gone with my suggestions and we have had a successful sale.  In two cases they held their guns and the sell price was less than I felt we might have gotten, and it took longer to sell.  In both cases, I gave my professional advice and then accepted the seller's decision.  It is their home and their choice in the end. 

If sellers are completely unreasonable are not willing to price the home within reason or make any effort to make it sellable, I then do the most professional thing I can.  I do not take the listing.  This is hard for most agents to do, but there are times when you will not be able to help them.

In one case where I rejected a listing, the seller respected me for doing it and agreed to my recommendations.  To this day we are good friends and has not only been a repeat client, but has sent me referrals.

Good luck and good selling!



Randy L. Prothero, REALTOR®

Broker-in-Charge, ABR, AHWD, CRB, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, MRP, SFR

eXp Realty

Team Leader - "The Prothero Group"

Randy Prothero is well established as an expert in working with military / VA clients and first time home buyers.  His home seller's (listing) campaign is one of the most aggressive marketing programs in the area.  His luxury home listings sell faster and for more money.

Based out of Mililani, Hawaii. Randy services the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) Performs mediations and ombudsman services for the Board of Realtors.  To improve overall professionalism in his area Randy also offers classes for real estate agents. 

www.HawaiiRandy.comOahu (Honolulu County) Property Search  Hawaii Military Relocations

Comment balloon 72 commentsRandy Prothero • August 22 2008 04:30PM


Randy, I toured a few homes and it was apparent these agents were not upfront with the sellers.

Posted by David Matney, Omaha, NE Real Estate | Omaha, NE Homes For Sale (BHHS - Ambassador Real Estate) over 10 years ago

This is one of the most difficult things we face, and yet... we have to tell them the truth.  I've even reached the point where I'll walk away from any listing that isn't really salable.

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Randy - Thanks for the post... this is so important.  No one ends up happy when a home isn't really ready to sell!

Posted by Lynn Afton, REALTOR® Near Big Rapids, MI, Mecosta County (Greenridge Realty Oakmont) over 10 years ago

Did you smell my dog when you walked in my house?  Come on Randy ..you said you didn't lol!

All of what you discussed here clearly tells me that you tell them straight (you'd think I know you or something LOL)

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 10 years ago

I say tell the truth..


Tom Davis

World Class DE Realtor

Posted by Tom Davis, FREE Delaware Homes Search!, $$ Save $$ - Find Homes! Delaware Realtor (Harrington ERA,DE Homes For Sale, $$ Save $$ Buy Today !) over 10 years ago

If you can't step up and tell your clients what they need to hear in order to sell their home for the highest possible price, you don't belong in a business where you represent others' best interests.

Cameron Novak, Corona Real Estate Agent
Cameron Novak

Corona Real Estate Broker
The Homefinding Center
Corona, California

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Posted by Cameron Novak, Featured Corona Real Estate Agent Team (The Homefinding Center) over 10 years ago

Randy, It's sometimes difficult to discuss, however we must tell the seller the truth.  The key is to say it tactfully without being offensive.

Posted by Sun City Grand Homes Surprise AZ Real Estate Leolinda Bowers Designated Broker Leolinda Realty, Sun City Grand in Surprise Arizona (Leolinda Realty) over 10 years ago

Randy, I would higher you in a heartbeat if you were local and I needed to sell my home!  My neighbors just sold their house and it turns out that their Realtor is the dad to one of my hubby's childhood friends. He has been in business here for many years and is old enough to be the dad of the sellers. He had a great way of telling them things and kept saying to them, "Bob, you know large equipment sales and I wouldn't begin to tell you how to go about that. My job is to know real estate. You hired me for my expertise in real estate and my job is to sell your home. These are the items that we need to address..." and he went down the list. It helped to remind them that there is a reason they hired a professional and that they should strongly listen to his "suggestions". They both really respected him and, even though they disagreed with one or two, they complied with them. Their house sold and it was the last one listed out of three similar properties within the block (granted there are other factors playing into that as well).

You know what they say- "honesty is the best policy".

Posted by Libby Cousins, Contract Mortgage Processor, licensed in WA (Extraordinary Processing) over 10 years ago

It is their home and their choice in the end. 

Yes, and it is also our choice whether or not to take the listing on their terms.  The dog issue is the toughest for me.  Pets are like children to many people.  But the sellers children have to keep their rooms clean and fresh for showings and keep their smelly tennis shoes outside - the sellers need to deal with the dog issues.  I am always friendly to their pets to show that it is not personal, I like their dog, I don't mind the smell so much as the one buyer who walks away holding their nose without seeing the other advantages of the property.

Posted by Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR, Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS (ERA - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale) over 10 years ago

David M. - I have seen more than a few that I guessed the same.  I turned down a couple to watch another agent take them on and fail.

Margaret W. - You have to walk away.  If you can't sell it, why go down the road and make everyone miserable?

Lynn A. - Very true.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Randy, I really like the wording that you use to explain things without having to come out and explain things.  Great piece!

Posted by Mark Organek, On a journey to accomplish one huge goal. (And the United States of America) over 10 years ago

Sally - You know I tell it straight.  I do believe in being diplomatic though.

Tom - Nothing else works.

Cameron - Very true.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Leolinda - I find I am pretty good at telling clients what they need to know without insulting or hurting feelings.  It is all in how you say it.  Your clients have to believe you are truly looking out for their best interests.

Libby - Honesty and expertise make a great combination.

Virginia - I have had buyers step to the doorway and turn around with out looking inside when the smell hit them.  It is important that owners realize that.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Mark - Thank you.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

That's usually my problem ...every week to tell them to cut the lawn. I have a listing right now on the market for 2 yrs and the lawn and weeds are out of control...how can they expect an offer and an offer for top dollar...it's tough because they are in another state but their son is in college and isn't the lawn cutter type....I told him....Dude...you need to weed!

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

All the truth, all the time, I refuse to sugar coat anything that needs to be done to get a home to sell. Yep, I walk away too, if necessary.

Here's my grip, you show a home, weeds over grown, front door needs painting, dirty, you name it. In the same neighborhood is a move in condition home, same price.

The listing agents uses you to tell the seller in your feedback what needs to be done. errrr "tell them up front before listing the house", it's not going to sell anyway in that condition and price.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 10 years ago

Randy...A mna's (or Woman's) hom is his/her castle.  No one likes to be told that their castle has some odd looking bricks.  But, I alsways tell them the truth in a "diplomatic" way.  I have bee asked to leave, but, that will happen at times. 

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) over 10 years ago

Randy - Honesty is the best poilcy here, as we are doing no one any favors by not being upfront about these issues, especially in a market where buyers seem to look for every excuse to not buy a particular home or to bring in the lowest price. Diplolmacy is really the key, but sometimes it is difficult for them to understand how buyers might not like various aspects of their home that they do, adn to overlook bad colors, smells, clutter and more. I think you provided some good strategies for how to broach these subjects with sellers effectively.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) over 10 years ago

Hi Randy - I'm on the same page with you.  In the early days I didn't always get it right, but when the expense of time and energy are tallied with a no-sell listing, I did learn it's just better to walk away sometimes.  And like you said, sometimes they don't want you to go and respect is earned.  Good post :-)

Posted by Gail MacMillan over 10 years ago

I think most agents need to get a couple of years and several (many) sales under their belt before they get comfortable with the walk away.  There is always that expectation that things will be different with this one.  cheryl

Posted by Cheryl Willis, MO Broker - Mt Vernon, Monett, Aurora, Barry & Law (RE/MAX Solutions- OZARK MISSOURI) over 10 years ago

Honesty certainly is the best policy and I think the key is to give them the facts tactfully and let them make the decision.  This is true in any sales situation, including my end (mortgage).  With almost every refi deal, the customer overestimates the value of their property and their credit.  I have to make some difficult phone calls when their credit is a 580 instead of thier estimate of 720 or when their home comes in $40K short and now the LTV pushes them into a different risk category (with the resulting rate increase).  

Posted by Stu Magid (First Centennial Mortgage) over 10 years ago

Neal - I find an occasional digital picture e-mailed to the owner is helpful.

Missy - I do not like when an agent takes the listing and then wants us to tell their client the obvious through showing feed backs.

William - I have not been asked to leave.  I think I am pretty good at saying it without insulting them.  If I get one that is that sensitive about critical stuff, it is probably best I do not take the listing.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Jeff - Buyers can and are very selective, sellers just have to understand that.

Gail - It can be an expensive lesson for agents and the sellers.

Cheryl - it does take a level of confidence.  Desperate agents tend to make the most mistakes in this area.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Stu - I believe in giving them the bad news upfront and allowing them time to make an informed decision.  I see many loan officers pulling the last minute surprise.  if they do it to one of my clients they never get a referral again.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Great info - Thanks for all of your feedback. I always enjoy seeing what other Successful Realtors are doing all over the world.  Robert J Russell http://www.robertjrussell.com

Posted by Robert J. Russell, IRES, ICREA, GMA, LAS, LUTCF, Insurance Broker (Robert J Russell Companies) over 10 years ago

Robert - I think the successful ones are pretty much doing many of the same things.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

If only agents were upfront there would be a lot of better homes on the market --- maybe. Of course telling a seller and getting them to do what you suggest is another issue. LOL

Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) over 10 years ago

Occasionally it costs a listing, but generally my sellers want to get the job done. If I would lose the listing because I am truthful, well, that is a good one to lose, because there is more bad news coming in the average transaction. However, if I am too blunt (which does happen, unfortunately...), that's my fault and I try to be more tactful next time. Sometimes people like me enough to listen, sometimes they don't...and worst of all, sometimes the person's personality is so overbearing that they won't listen to a thing, the house is great and there's no arguing...I'm walking away from that one as quickly as possible.

Posted by Dawn Maloney, 330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio (RE/MAX Haven - Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist) over 10 years ago

Last week we listed a 1974 lakeside townhome for a bit higher than we thought it should start at. 4 days later we had a ratified contract. How? The seller took our suggestions sure, but thanks to HGTV she had an abundant source of knowledge to draw from. She remodeled where needed (kitchen, baths, paint, flooring and carpet) which was needed. But what sent it over the top was her staging. She did it herself. At the brokers open several Realtors ask who the stager was. Also, she listened to suggestions like... when a call for a showing comes, turn on all the lights and tune in the light jazz station for low background sound. They had rented a storage space and removed a lot of clutter and stuff, so the place really showed like a model.

I think that a lot of the diplomacy involved is not telling them what to do, but suggesting some things that have been known to help sell houses time and time over. People will do the right thing and make the right choices when they think it's their free will to choose. Sometimes it is a challenge, but if you back up your facts with documentation and statistics, those difficult people do come around too.

Posted by Rob & Jeannie Steward - Realtors®, We Work TWICE As Hard For You! - Ashton Group (RE/MAX Advantage) over 10 years ago

great article. Tough situation for sure, but honesty (coated with tact) is a good way to approach it to help them

Posted by Sean Carroll, Real Estate Speaker and "Expert" Coach (The Get Off Your A$$ Academy) over 10 years ago

Randy - I tell them to move out - get the place sanitized - and then we'll talk!  Oh - and then I woke up!

Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ (BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) over 10 years ago

Good post!  We must be honest with our sellers and it is very important to choose our words carefully when recommending ways to stage a the sellers' home, no matter how much they want your advice.  Seller's are emotionally attached to their home and you have to be careful not to offend.

Posted by Maui Real Estate - Lisa B. Miller R(S) (Keller Williams Realty Maui) over 10 years ago

Bob and Carolin - It is not always easy to get sellers to do what is needed to be successful.  They are getting input from so many amateurs with strong opinions.

Dawn - My home stager had a great question.  She asked what is you motivation.  My client said greed, she said great!  They did everything we asked of them.

Rob & Jeannie - Clients will normally do the right things.  Sometimes that can not. Health or financial situations may make things difficult for them.  In those situations I try to be creative.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Team Carroll - That is how I try to do it.

Tony - Good thing you woke up.  They might have thrown you out.  LOL                  

Lisa - Very good point.  You have to be careful not to call someone messy or put their taste in question.  It is important to distinguish the difference between a home decorated to live in and one decorated to sell.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

I would tell them that as an agent in demand, and since it is probably their goal to sell the home for the most amount of money in the least amount of time, that you have a few suggestions that will help the home appeal to even more buyers.  You can go on to say that your suggestions are based on your years in the industry and seeing similar homes during your time that did not get as much attention as they deserved because the sellers opted to not stage the home to appeal to the widest range of buyers as possible.  A suggestion that buyers need to be able to see their own things in the house, and therefore, it should be personalized as little as possible, may help them come to the same conclusion.

If you do not want to be confrontational, you could develop a "generic checklist" that addresses a lot of your concerns and ask them to go through the checklist after you leave. 

Also, you may want to give them a questionnaire with questions that when filled out, will bring them to the conclusion that their house is overpriced.  Sometimes, they just don't see the big picture.  Asking the right questions in the right order and allowing them to commit it to paper (without you around), may help them come to the conclusion that the home is overpriced.

If all else fails, you can mention that even in todays market, there are sometimes bidding wars on homes priced slightly below market (happens with my listings all of the time).  As an REO agent, I think a lot of banks are starting to realize this.  Once the price gets low enough, many times, there are multiple offers to consider and the "highest and best" requests to buyers get them back up closer to what they wanted in the first place.  Of course, that plan can also backfire.

Posted by Jesse Barron, REALTOR® - Real Estate Made Easy™ in Anne Arundel County, MD (Keats & Co. Real Estate, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jesse - Pricing strategy is a case by case situation.  I have had properties that we priced higher than all others and got multiple offers right away, because of location or condition.  I tell clients I do not give the same advice to all clients, I do my research and inspect the home carefully before I make any recommendations.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Randy:  Wouldn't location and condition make its value higher?  Perhaps I just look at it differently.  Also, it's already been said that it is overpriced, so I am looking at it from that angle.  Actually though, as you were responding, I was in editing my original comment.  Through experience, I have found that if you have two identical properties (say side-by-side townhomes) and you list one for $4,000 less than the other, you get more buyers, and more offers.  Then, on multiple offer situations, buyers are usually already emotionally invested in the listing and may go up to above the identical neighbor.  My very last line cannot be emphasized enough though "Of course, that plan can also backfire."  It has worked for me though on multiple occassions; perhaps just by luck.  If anything, it may get them thinking about a reduction, which, by the sounds of it, is something they need to be thinking about?


LOL I was about to hit submit and realized you were giving advice.  And good advice it is!  I was thinking you were asking for suggestions as well -- and, well, if someone needs alternatives, I've given some.

Posted by Jesse Barron, REALTOR® - Real Estate Made Easy™ in Anne Arundel County, MD (Keats & Co. Real Estate, LLC) over 10 years ago

DISCLAIMER:  I've had a very long day (thankfully, it has ended) of juggling 5 things at once from beginning to end.  So, take what I say for what it's worth.  If it wasn't so early I'd be sleeping right now.  My exhaustion is why I am doing nothing more risky than Active Rain. :)

Posted by Jesse Barron, REALTOR® - Real Estate Made Easy™ in Anne Arundel County, MD (Keats & Co. Real Estate, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jesse -

You made a really good point about pricing.  I did not mean to sound like I was disagreeing with you. 

I agree any strategy can back fire.  It is important to evaluate the risks with all strategies.

I am sorry I was not clear on my comment.  I was thinking about a townhouse I just closed recently.  We priced it $35,000 higher than any unit ever sold in the complex.  I had other agents think I was crazy when I took the listing.  We were in escrow in two days with a strong back up offer.  The location in the complex and the unit was the nicest I had ever seen.  I knew it was special and presuaded the client to price it higher.  That is what I meant by case by case.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

You've got to tell home owners the truth.  Otherwise an agent can wind up with an over priced listing.

Which will, of couse, eat the agent alive.

At $375 a gallon, buyers who don't get the truth can be a big mistake too.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Excellent post, Randy. I think I will borrow that stage to live vs stage to sell approach. Thanks.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Lenn - I wish gas were only $3.75 a gallon here.  You are dead on, buyers who are not realistic can also be a big challenge.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

I listed an expired that the sellers were fully aware of the issues with... and the previous agent had NEVER said a word.  The other agent didn't ever want to offend or disagree.  I don't make it a goal to offend, but I can't be afriad to say something... if I lose it, I likely didn't want the listing.

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 10 years ago

Gary - I think I got that line from my home stager when she spoke to our REALTOR® group.  It is defintely a good one and I use it regularly.

Lane - That is so true.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Randy-Great advice and I'm with everyone else: Loved the line about "stage it to sell". That is a very tactful way to get our point across.  I am always upfront.  Better to lay it on the table now, instead of disappointing later:)

Posted by Elizabeth Cooper-Golden, Huntsville AL MLS (Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group)) over 10 years ago

Randy - honesty is the only policy. If they don't want honesty, then we're not the right match. I'm listing a house tomorrow that has a chartreuse bathtub in the second bathroom. They're having it redone on Tuesday - turns out they never liked it either, but didn't get around to changing it.

Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 10 years ago

Hi Randy,  Part of being a successful agent is the ability to tell a seller the truth in such a way that they respect your honesty and want to work with you.  Good selling to you.

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 10 years ago


Look at it this way---if we don't level with those sellers, the listing has zero chance of selling.

Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 10 years ago

Randy - God points.  It is our job to be honest but in a kind and helpful manner. Some many agents seem to lose their courage and leave the truth for the feedback calls lol

Posted by Judy Peterson, "Superb Service, Superb Results" (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox&Roach Realtors ) over 10 years ago

Randy, I have been told that I am brutally honest.  I think I'm brutally honest in a nice way but I won't take an over priced lisitng.  I have lost listings because of my honesty but that's okay. 

Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 10 years ago

Elizabeth - If I were a client, I would prefer the honest approach.

Sharon - I definitely am not the right agent if they do not want honest. 

A condo listing in my town had deep red tub and was over priced.  You guessed it, they were not successful.

Bill - Thank you.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Diane - That is the point that I hope inexperienced agents take away from this.

Judy - Definitely

Marchel - I am honest, hopefully not brutal.

I had a potential client call me back after interviewing a couple of agents and tell me if I would raise my listing price to match the one an inexperienced agents offered to list at, they would give me the listing.  I turned them down, explaining that the home would not sell at that price.  In the end they went through a couple of agents and eventually sold it for much less than I originally recommended.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

If I am going to spend my time money and energy marketing a property, I don't want to take on properties where the seller is not going to adjust to the market. If a seller has the laundry list of issues above, they need to price accordingly or they need to make efforts to improve the presentation of the home. If I can't have that honest conversation up front, it may be just as hard down the line.

Posted by Pete Jalbert, R(S) (The Maui Real Estate Team, Inc. ) over 10 years ago


You are so right.  I usually use people that I cam only tell them what the market is telling us...or what the market perceives as value.

I also tell them that living in a home on the market is harder than living normally in the home.  It is no longer their home, but a product they are marketing.  When you market a product your job is to make it appeal to as wide of a market as possible.

I also tell them that you want the potential buyers looking at the house and not at family pictures to see if they know who the seller is.  


Posted by Earleene Woods, ASP, CRS, GRI (Keller Williams Experience Realty) over 10 years ago

besides odors/allergies - pets can sometimes make it difficult to set up viewing appointments.  great post, Randy :)

Posted by Kara Casamassina, Boomers and beyond (International Property Management Group, LLC) over 10 years ago

Enjoyed reading this post - so many "tactful" ways to handle different things...

Posted by Emily Lowe, Nashville TN Realtor (The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty) over 10 years ago

Great Post Randy - you are correct in everything you mentioned. Do what we have to do and keep the seller's feelings intact. With "collections" I sometimes tell them we need to box them up for moving because we don't want the buyer's children (or buyers themselves) to accidentally break anything. Works every time!

Posted by Linda Breeding (Keller Williams Realty ) over 10 years ago

Randy... Yes it can be hard some times as the sellers always thing there home is in the best condition

Posted by Roland Woodworth, Q Realty - Power In Real Estate (Q Realty) over 10 years ago

Pete - I can honestly say, the few times I gave in to the sellers when I knew better; it did not go well.

Earleene - I also let sellers know I am the messenger.  I did not create the market.

Kara - Pets can be a real challenge when selling.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Emily - Tactful is another name for professional.  :)

Linda - That is a very tactful way of addressing that.

Roland - I remember the lady who thought hers was worth an extra $100,000, because she had all of the original appliances, fixtures and cabinets.  All were in perfect working order.  40 years old and avocado appliances. (True story).  I did not take the listing.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

a good starter is something  like this, no? "the house has a little pet odor, they had two big mastifs, and three rotweilers, so maybe it's a bit more than a little pet odor, but the good news is they didn't have six goats!"

Posted by Gary Bolen, CRS - Lake Tahoe Real Estate Information (McCall Realty) over 10 years ago

This reminds me of a listing appt I had this past spring. Seller had originally listed with MLS-only broker and home didn't sell. When I know there are dogs, I always grab a few of Murphy's liver bites and put them in my pocket to become friends with the dogs. We walked through the home first and I noted the items that needed to be done to prepare for sale. I could tell the wife was not in agreement.

Then there were the 3 little dogs who all wore doggie diapers because they hike their legs. Plus, there was the dying 18-yr old cat (really, that's what she said) in the dining room. By this time, I knew I didn't want the listing but went through the formalities anyway.

I placed my winter coat over the back of the kitchen chair while we discussed comps and price. They wanted $285 and I wouldn't go over $239K. Eventually, I told them I didn't see a fit, but wished them well. Proceeded to put my coat on and had my keys fall out of my pocket. It seems one of the little dogs had quietly chewed through my coat to eat the remainder of the liver bits that were there.

So not only did I waste my time that night, but I've got to buy a new coat before winter comes. :-) Doncha' just LOVE this job!

Posted by Elaine Reese, REALTOR® in central Ohio (Real Living HER, Powell Ohio) over 10 years ago

Randy: great post. NO matter how much you try to tell the sellers the truth..they have their own ideas.Hopefully, they will wise up.After all they want to sell. 

Posted by LLoyd Nichols, SW Florida Homes (Premier Florida Realty of SWFL) over 10 years ago

Randy, truth is difficult but what needs to be said should be, and could be conveyed gently.  Pricing is crucial and sellers need to be told if they really want to sell.  A tip that I received from a stager is to use the word, "treasures".  Anything that the sellers have could be a treasure, well at least in their perspective, and for that reason, they want to make sure that their treasures are packed nicely, kept away, and ready for the move.  Another tip from the same stager is to advise the sellers to picture their home as a canvas in which potential buyers are going to buy, and why the canvas need to be neat and clean so that the potential buyers will know where and how to place their own stuff. 

Posted by Sherry Sim over 10 years ago

Hi Randy,

This is an easy one for me and should be an easy one for any Real Estate Professional... heck, it should be a "gimmee" for a Realtor - tell them the TRUTH.  After all, if Great Aunt Edna or Susie the Stylist really were the be all and end all of the Real Estate world then Shouldn't they be the ones entrusted with the sale?

I totally agree with you about not taking the listing if the client's are inflexible.  That doesn't mean that they need to kowtow to my every whim, but it sure as heck does mean that if I start getting that little "Danger Will Robinson" bell going off in my head, I had better listen. 

Thanks for an insightful article.

Take care, help lots of people, have a wonderful day and Aloha!


Posted by Tisza Major-Posner, DRE#01784679 (I.V.P.G. - Inland Valley Professional Group) over 10 years ago

Wow - I'm sending this to my agents - GOOD ADVICE all around!

Posted by Marcia Kramarz, CDPE,LMC,CBR (Re/Max Executive Realty) over 10 years ago

You definitely have to tell people the truth and get it out into the open on what is needed to sell the home.  Never lead them on.

Posted by Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239, Michigan homes for sale ~ yesmyrealtor@gmail.com (Real Estate One) over 10 years ago

Take the listing "as-is" and worry about the rest of it later. After you have blitzed the neighborhood with your mailers and flyers, you can try to bring your clients into reality. I am kidding but I had an agent tell me that yesterday. She is new to town and wants some exposure and admittedly, the house will not sell as it is going to be purchased by the Border Patrol (relo?) in 60 days. The power has already been turned off and the house is trashed so she has her work cut out if she wants anything other than a sign in front of a house.

Posted by Patrick Randles (Nova Home Loans) over 10 years ago

Good advise.

Posted by Mark Richards, Castle Rock/Denver Real Estate (Cherry Creek Properties) over 10 years ago

Gary B. - I bet they used to have a few cats before the killer dogs ate them.

Elaine - I was thinking there could be a draw back to bringing the doggy snacks.  I didn't think about them wrecking your coat.

Lloyd - I met a seller who asked me what price I thought his home was worth and I gave him a price range.  It was considerably where he thought it should be.  The fact that he had three previous agents, try to sell for that price and fail did not deter him.  Those agents just were not any good. (In his mind)  In my mind their mistake was taken him on as a client.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Sherry - I thought of something funny when you said treasures.  I was thinking the pirates buried their treasures.  Sherry all joking aside, I like using canvass and treasures.  Very positive and terms a seller can embrace.  Thank you for those pearls.

Tisza - If the warning bells are going off in your head, you really need to pay careful attention.  That is great advice in almost every aspect of our business.

Marcia - Thank you.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Russ - Unfortunately there are too many folks in the industry that do not always follow that rule.  Some for fear and some are just dishonest.

Patricia - If that is her plan, she better buy a lot of signs.  They will be out on the road for a long time.

Mark & Wendy - Thank you.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

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