“Thank you for a seamless transaction,” the email said, “We couldn’t have done it without you.” (That’s true.) "It was entirely smooth sailing." (Not exactly, but we didn't share the riptides we encountered - we changed course instead.)
At the risk of blowing our own horns “seamless” doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a great deal of planning, orchestration, knowledge, and execution on everyone’s part, AND no small amount of faith and trust from the sellers as well. In other words, "smooth sailing" requires an experienced captain at the helm, not to mention a highly-trained and responsive crew if we're going to avoid choppy waters.
Tie our hands, micromanage the process, or retake the wheel, and you invariably hobble your Agents. (You might as well ask us to walk the plank.) Yet, when it comes to real estate, nine times out of 10, that’s exactly what Sellers do. (Resist the temptation.)
“But I know my house better than anyone.”
We understand, and therein lies the problem.
Sellers tend to be protective of their properties and, consequently, receive any criticism (justified or not) poorly. It would only hurt your feelings to know that the Buyers walked through your painstakingly remodeled home and didn’t like your choice of wallpaper, felt the garden was too small and struggled with the awkward floor plan. When Sellers get defensive about Buyers' opinions, we've lost the race before we've left the shore. That's why real estate is best handled by a third-party negotiator - not by the Homeowners themselves.
“No worries, the park is right around the corner.
“This is where a primary bathroom could potentially go."
“Why not combine those spaces for a larger kitchen/family room?”
"Wallpaper and paint can easily be changed."
In short, let your Realtors man the sails, while singing the virtues of your house and community at large. ("Ho, ho, ho, a sailer's life for me . . .") Unless Buyers run it up the sails, they're not actually interested in your home. Would it help to know that objections ARE important to the process? (They are.) Moreover, putting one's personal stamp on a property is the journey for every Buyer; otherwise, we'd all live in cookie-cutter houses. When it comes to selling (or sailing), trust the wind.
And while Agents would certainly prefer it if every transaction were carefree, that's actually the exception rather than the rule. If it looks easy from the outside; that's the intention. As Spencer Tracy once famously said, "Acting's a great job unless someone catches you doing it." (For the record, Spencer Tracy was my mother's generation, but I love a good Spencer/Hepburn film.)
Aside from the mechanics of getting a house repaired, prepped, and ready for market, (a Herculean task if there ever was one), there's the stress of meeting the Sellers' increasingly expanding expectations, rising interest rates (they rose 0.25% on Thursday and are expected to go up another six times this year), chaotic world events, increasing fear and greed, lengthy negotiations, and the threat of stormy seas in escrow.
As an example, this week, we had Buyers who failed to perform as contractually obligated (Yes, they sometimes do that.) Although they'd written a non-contingent, all-cash, 7-day offer that presented as the clear winner, three days later when the deposit still hadn't arrived, they sent a "Cancellation of the Contract" form instead. According to their Agent, "They changed their mind." ("Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?")
BTW, this was clearly a breach of contract, but there we were, which is when I placed a call to my manager, and to the Sellers, outlined the options, suggested they speak with a qualified real estate attorney, and then together, we calmly worked out a new game plan during the course of the next several hours. Happily, the property is back in contract, with a backup offer in place. Let's hope for smooth sailing ahead, but if not, we know how to man the ship.
Which is why I find it puzzling when Sellers shop their Agents based on commission alone. By law, commissions are negotiable, but please don't ask us to sell your home for less. If the commission is your number one criteria for choosing a Realtor, let us not-so-politely point you toward a discount brokerage who will invariably deliver you a discounted rate, for a discounted product, as well as a discounted result.
If it's our team, our experience, our training, and our work you desire, we'll more than earn the difference in what we deliver to the marketplace, in how aggressively we negotiate on your behalf, in how diligently we work to get it right, and in how we handle the rough patches along the way. However, if cheaper is what matters most to you - here's an oar - go find a rowboat.
The reality is that the complexities and potential litigation of selling a house make for some fairly choppy waters. Yes, you can absolutely find cheaper representation in terms of inexperienced Agents that have just received their license, OR discount brokerages that will rebate you a percentage, OR underperforming Agents who are, frankly, desperate, or those who think they can blithely skip out of a binding contract (they can't) . . . AND while a lower commission may sound attractive in the short-term, it's likely to sink the ship in the long. (I'm throwing you a life raft. Grab hold!)
The moral of the story is: if it's smooth sailing you're after - instead of rough seas - it makes a difference who's steering the boat. (I'm just sayin'.)
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 750 humorous but always informative, essays on life and real estate.