Last week a colleague at work said her client had given her permission to do "whatever" in order to sell their wonderful home. "Karen" she said,"in our minds, we don't live here anymore. Do what you need to do." Wow! Now there's a seller who "gets it," - and one that's likely to have a very favorable result.
Sing it with me, "You've abandoned me, love don't live here anymore . . . just a fantasy, love don't live here anymore . . ."
Don't get me wrong, it's not that sellers who can more easily disengage, don't love their homes - they do. It's just that they are typically ready to move on - more than ready - which makes our jobs as Realtors, infinitely easier when we come together. In addition, these detached clients are more inclined to defer to our expertise, let go, and clear the way for whatever unfolds. (Thank you.)
So what about the rest of you? It's been my experience (both good and bad) that the vast majority of clients can't help but micromanage the sale process - in part or in whole (they truly have good intentions). While you want and need our help, the move is just too large to entirely trust a Realtor with it. I get it, I do. (Been there, done that but you know what they say about "good intentions")
In the interest of full disclosure I am now going to share my past transgressions . . . While renovating and selling my own homes in San Francisco, I had a bad habit of "helping" my realtors market my properties. Having put my blood, sweat and tears into each project, I really believed that the sale would benefit from my personal supervision and enthusiastic input. (Control issues? Just a bit.)
Despite great agents, seasoned agents and well-respected agents, I just didn't completely trust the process and when the plan didn't exactly unfold in alignment with my own rigid agenda, I was quickly on to the next Realtor to reset the clock. You might imagine that results (favorable or not) had less to do with what any one particular realtor brought to the process, and more to do with my own unrealistic expectations for it - and you'd be right. (Ooh!) It' true , NOT all agents are created equal; however, at the end of the day, price has more to do with the successful outcome of your home sale - than any other single component. (If it's blame you seek, blame the market.)
Looking back, I kind of cringe on how my "help" was really interference and in the worst examples, unfair to the agent I had entrusted to sell my home (I'd misplaced the "trust" part.) Here's my public apology to each of them - I am sorry. (Whew, I feel better.) Of all the attributes a good agent brings to the transactions, trust is perhaps the most critical. If you don't trust us completely, we can't do the job to the best of our abilities and if you don't tell us the full story, we are only playing with half a deck - and that certainly doesn't serve you in the end.
While I have said it before, it's worth repeating; bringing one's home to market is an incredibly invasive and disruptive process. Emotions can't help but be stirred up as buyers invade your private sanctuary and worse yet, make comments on the home you have lovingly created. (How dare they? How dare their Realtor?) I painfully remember overhearing a buyer's agent criticizing my home during the Broker's Tour. "Whatever you do," I said to my agent, "don't sell my house to that jerk!" Hmmm . . . I may have been a wee bit too invested in the process. I certainly would have benefited from a little distance.
Here's my best advice; "Get out, leave or better yet, go away on vacation." By the time you come back, the hoards of prospective buyers should have dissipated and you'll be far less stressed. If you can begin to emotionally detach from the start, the rest of the transaction will run more smoothly. You won't be abandoning ship, just taking a minor leave of absence.
So while I suspect love is still very much a part of the process, allow yourself a little room for the sake of achieving the goal and trust that your agent wants the very best for you. Their comments aren't personal, they are designed to bring you a positive result. As agents, we need to be able to objectively price your home, make suggestions and negotiate on your behalf and that's extremely difficult - if not downright impossible - if you are still emotionally attached and overly involved.
So let go . . . and let me help. That's what I'm here for!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 14 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.