Several summers ago my older son (anxious about an upcoming backpacking trip in Yosemite) complained so loudly and incessantly, that an alarmed camp counselor called me (after a pre-registration conversation) to say that the camp was "no longer certain that my son would make a good candidate for the excursion." Yikes!
Upon delivering this unsettling news, my reluctant teenager had a rapid change of heart. Suddenly, he didn't want to be the one missing out or the one left behind. It's been my experience that it is always much easier to do the rejecting then to be the one rejected (my high school prom notwithstanding). None of us likes the feeling of being passed over, or of not being good enough, and we sure don't like it when it's our home that gets "passed over" (or our kids for that matter).
Of course, at 50, the realization that "popularity" often comes with a price, is much easier to live with than at 15. At 15 (16, 17, 18 . . .) rejection seems so devastating and so stigmatizing. (It isn't but for better or worse, rejection is part of life.) Still, even the most seasoned agents aren't immune to rejection.
It stings when you lose an opportunity that you feel you have genuinely earned and rightly deserve; clients you have serviced for years, buyers you have helped for months, or sellers you placed into their homes previously. In a challenging economic atmosphere, agents aren't only in competition with one another; increasingly we're in competition with unrealistic Seller or Buyer expectations as well (a much tougher foe to conquer in many instances).
It's common knowledge among agents that sellers select their representatives for one of two reasons: 1) they'll either choose an agent/broker firm by reputation, or 2) they'll pick the highest suggested selling price! (These aren't automatically incompatible by the way, but usually they are.)
Nearly every Seller believes the rules of the marketplace apply to every other home but theirs. And when a competing agent arrives and confirms an unrealistic price point, it can be incredibly flattering to feel your home can demand a higher price than market performance might suggest. It's easy to get sucked in, but the odds of selling your home for more than the market will bear, are NOT in your favor.
Homes perceived as overpriced in our market generally sell for 9.5 % -20% LESS (!) than those that are sold within the first 21 days and it isn't uncommon to watch as homes get discounted by hundreds of thousands of dollars in our high-end marketplace with each passing month.
Alternatively, Buyers who zealously offer more than the market will support, quickly back out with cold feet and the Seller finds himself with a "tainted listing." Once your initial listing price has been reduced and reduced and REDUCED - to a place where it finally meets market demand - you are typically selling for a rock bottom result. How good is it going to feel then?
So before selecting a REALTOR based on price alone, ask him or her for their company's track record, for "days on market," statistics and for "sales to list price ratio" (Results are easy enough to produce.) With facts instead of feelings sharply in focus, you should be able to make wiser choices about what is true and what is real - REALLY!
Does the truth hurt? Yes, sometimes it does but an unrealistic price point can stigmatize your home faster than any agent ever could. (Believe me, it is often as tough for agents to deliver sobering news, as it is for you to receive it.) Hearing a price that is substantially below your hopes, desires or needs, can feel like the ultimate rejection - as if the agent doesn't believe in your home - when in fact, just the opposite is true. Realistic pricing is your greatest opportunity at achieving the highest and best result.
And isn't that the better choice? Isn't that the desired goal? And aren't you depending on your agent to help you honestly assess your risk and navigate you future? (Yes, you are.) Ask yourself this. "If I take price off the table," with whom would I rather work? There's your answer . . .
No, your home isn't being rejected - far from it. A top performing agent's job is to make sure that your home ISN"T getting passed over - OR being left behind (which may require prompt price reductions - sorry, but that's the market reality). It's not about being popular. It's about being honest. If Real Estate agents have no integrity around the delicate issue of value and list price, your home is in a much tougher position than just growing stale on the market. Moreover, you are likely to have a very disappointing result and that's nobody's intention - least of all yours.
How does that feel? (Not great.)
When it comes to homes, or REALTORS, (or backpacking trips for that matter) it isn't about feelings, it isn't about ego, and it most definitely isn't about appearances - it's about results!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.