As a seller, you should have many expectations for your agent. After all, you are compensating your agent [and the buyer's agent] for selling your home, so not only should you have many expectations, but they should be high expectations. And one of the most important things you should expect from your agent is honesty. So let's dive more deeply into this topic.
Here's the tough thing about honesty: it's not always what you want to hear. But you're not hiring a professional to tell you what you want to hear, are you? You wouldn't expect to go to the dentist with a mouthful of cavities and have said dentist tell you that your teeth are perfectly healthy, would you?? That doesn't make any sense. Well, the same should apply when you are selling your home. You need to expect honesty from your real estate agent.
So here's what you should expect your agent to be honest about:
1. The value of your home
In Part 1, we discussed education related to comps, days on market, and buyer trends & expectations, so just as you expect your agent to educate you thoroughly on those items, your agent also needs to be honest about the true value of your home in the current market.
Again, this is the part that might be difficult for you as the seller. Likely scenario: Zillow says your home is worth 750k, but your agent tells you to list it at 699k. Your agent educates you on the recently sold comps, how long those homes were listed, how many offers they received, and shares the photos of the comps so you can compare to your home. Remember, a good agent is going to be very familiar with the comps and is going to explain to you why it's smarter to list at 699k rather than 750k. And trust me, there are many reasons for this strategy.
It is NOT in your best interest for your agent to be untruthful about the value of your home. Actually, it's just the opposite. It's doing you a disservice and as a result you are more likely to get a lower price for your home than if you had listed it at the right price to begin with. So even though it may not be easy to hear, you should expect an honest, open conversation with your agent about the value of your home.
2. The condition of your home
Another thing you are going to want your agent to be honest with is the condition of your home compared to the comps [remember, comps are recently sold homes in your area that are very similar to yours]. For example, if you live in a neighborhood of townhouses and every single home that has recently sold has had a newer roof, and your roof is original, your agent should tell you that buyers are expecting a roof that is NOT original. You may say, but we don't have any problems with our roof. To which your agent may respond, I understand that, but buyers know that a new roof is a costly replacement, and they are mostly likely not going to pay top price for a home with an original roof.
The same should apply if you have a dated kitchen, an old HVAC system, original brass light fixtures, etc. Your agent owes it to you to be honest about the details of your home compared to those that your buyers will be familiar with. Which brings us to our next, and I'd argue, our most important point.
3. The presentation of your home
This is the biggie. It may seem obvious that your agent should have an honest conversation with you about the presentation of your home, but surprisingly this isn't always the case. And I think there are a few reasons for that.
Possibility #1: The agent doesn't want to hurt your feelings. I'm certain this is the most common reason that agents aren't honest with clients about the presentation of their home. It's difficult to tell a seller that their paint colors are unappealing, their fixtures are dated, and they have way too much stuff on their shelves. BUT if you want to sell your home for top dollar, this is a truth you need to hear from your agent. And- I can't stress this enough- do NOT take this personally. I've had many [many] tough conversations with my sellers over the years, and each time, I try to convey to my clients that what I am telling them is based on my years' of experience selling homes and that we share the same goal which is to sell their home for top dollar. Again, your agent owes this honesty to you.
Possibility #2: The agent just doesn't care, or maybe just doesn't know any better [but that's being generous.
When I see a listing photo like this one, I can't help to think, why in the world would a licensed real estate agent publish this photo ? Trust me, it's not the worst listing photo I have ever seen, but the toilet lid... come on!!
Bear with me a minute; let's see how easy this one would be:
Put the toilet seat down
Remove the Army green rug that doesn't match
Remove the red bucket [trash can?]
Bonus points for swapping out the shower curtain for a white one
Bad real estate photos is another topic entirely, but to return to our original point, you need to expect your agent to be honest with you about the presentation of your home, and this includes [and I might argue this is the most important], the listing photos.
If your agent does not, at minimum, tell you that the toilet seat & lid needs to be down for the photos and then goes on to publish those photos, then you either have an agent that doesn't care [sorry], or is not being honest with you about the things that are really important.
The importance of honest conversation extends far beyond just the beginning of your relationship with your agent, but that is a topic for another blog. If there's one thing I want you to take away, it's to please, please have high expectations when it comes to honesty from your agent, especially during your "pre-listing" period. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Email Stacy at email@example.com or call her at 443.465.0954 to talk more!