Some home sellers act as though their job is finished the moment they engage the services of a listing agent. I’d like to make an analogy that will challenge that way of thinking.
Listed homes are kind of like publically traded companies. In both cases privately held assets (real property or company stocks) are listed publicly (for example on the MLS or the NASDAQ) in order to attract the money of outside investors and achieve maximum value and profitability.
If you think of homes this way it becomes clear that just as a homeowner is king of his castle, a home seller is the Chief Executive Officer over home sales.
Corporate CEOs delegate tasks but never abdicate ultimate responsibility as the leader. Home sellers shouldn’t either.
If homeowners are the CEOs of home sales, Realtors® are like the vice presidents of sales and marketing.
Like the VP of an organization, a listing agent has numerous sales and marketing responsibilities. But, like any VP, the agent reports directly to the ultimate decision maker… the home owner.
If you are serious about earning the fastest, most effective sale and highest price for your home, read on.
CEOs and home sellers have ultimate authority—In a for-profit business CEOs make major corporate decisions, build the executive team, and allocate capital to priorities that will help the company achieve its goals… especially profitability.
You have similar power and responsibility as a home seller. For example, only you can make the major decision to list your home for sale. You are responsible for selecting the team (e.g. an agency like Roche Realty Group) that will pursue the goal. You alone can authorize the selling price a Realtor® proposes, and only you can make the decision to invest in priorities that will help you sell your home.
Building the executive team—Successful CEOs hire the best talent they can. Home sellers should do the same.
Would a CEO hire a senior executive just because that person is a casual acquaintance? Probably not. Yet homeowners often engage Realtors® simply because they’re acquainted.
For example, my favorite real estate hiring decision started when a colleague received an email that read: “I am hoping you remember me from Pickleball!! I need to sell my parent’s house…”
Even if I were an expert pickleball player, that would no more qualify me to sell real estate than my graduate degree and 27 years of sales and marketing experience would qualify me to be a professional pickelball player.
You want to sell your home, not give it away for nothing, right? So why just give away the responsibility of listing? If an agent wants to list your home, make them earn it!
Meet with a few. Ask about their sales and especially marketing capabilities and ideas. Any active Realtor® can put a listing in the MLS. That should be the start of promotion, not the whole of it.
You can ask for references, just like a company does when hiring executives.
Ask if the agent works in real estate full time. A CEO wouldn’t hire an executive who doesn’t work full time, but homeowners sometimes do.
For example, I recently worked with a counterpart who was a full time educator and part time Realtor®. She was very nice but the process was delayed because she had limited availability to communicate five days per week. Purchase and sales agreements have critical timetables and vital sales momentum can be lost when delays take place. Buyers want what they want, when they want it and delays can cause deals to fall through.
A successful CEO wouldn’t hire a VP who doesn’t show up to work. But home sellers routinely do!
When meeting with agents ask, “Will you put a lock box on my property?” If the answer is “yes,” it’s the equivalent of not showing up for work!
I’m amazed how common this practice is. Lock boxes don’t sell your home, they just let people in. I’ve had numerous experiences where I was given a lock box code over the phone and never saw the listing agent during showings, inspections or walk-throughs.
Further, lock boxes open real estate professionals and home owners to potential liability. What if something is stolen during a “showing” where no one was there to represent you? Or what if your pipes burst because a buyer agent unfamiliar with your home thinks they just turned off the lights in the basement, when, in reality, they just turned off the oil burner switch and it’s 10 below?
A CEO wouldn’t hire a VP of sales and marketing who lacks expertise in the company’s specific market, but home owners sometimes do.
I once acquired a listing that had expired after six months. I discovered that the prior agent’s office was in a town more than an hour away from the Laconia property. That agent may be very good, but it’s tough keep your finger on the pulse of a market you don’t live and work in, and it’s difficult to devote over two hours just to get to and from the property you’re trying to sell. (I guess she could have put up a lock box!)
Once the homeowner/CEO switched to an agent who is dedicated to the Lakes Region market, practices real estate full time, and does not use a lock box, the property was under agreement after just 18 days on market and closed for $11,000 more than the previous agent’s expired listing price.
Allocating capital to strategic priorities—Just as a good VP of sales and marketing makes investment recommendations to improve a company’s products (and therefore sales and profitability), a good Realtor® can recommend ways you can invest to improve your home’s marketability and the likelihood of a satisfactory appraisal value.
For example, many New England homes are afflicted with “deferred maintenance,” needed repairs and updates that should have been made but never were.
Today’s savvy buyers don’t want to pay for the privilege of inheriting the present homeowner’s problems, so a property with lots of obvious deferred maintenance can show poorly and be hard to sell unless you discount the price substantially. Even with an aggressive discount, it may be difficult to sell if there’s an abundant inventory of nearby homes that don’t require as much work.
A CEO is ultimately responsible for allocating capital (money) to strategic priorities, or facing the consequences if they don’t. Similarly, homeowners are directly responsible for addressing maintenance and mechanical issues that could inhibit a home’s sale and/or lower its value on the market.
As a homeowner, you are the Chief Executive Officer of home sales. So sell your home like a boss!