"You're not going to need to do much with our place," the Seller said, "we'll take care of everything. And then she added, "so can you adjust your commission?" (Sure, I can charge you more.)
While we appreciate the offer, Sellers who "micromanage" the process actually make our jobs MUCH tougher. In fact, I could legitimately argue that our commission should go UP - not down - when Sellers insist on being "hands-on."
Not that I fault the concept; from a Seller's point-of-view, it might sound like a great idea to "help" (who knows the home better than you?) but in practice, it's akin to me instructing my chiropractor exactly how she should adjust my neck when I arrive on her doorstep in excruciating pain. (I wouldn't know where to start, nor do I have the medical training to suggest what needs adjusting.)
Like my chiropractor, most seasoned Realtors have a finely-tuned system in place that requires clockwork precision, so when you suggest we work with your vendors - instead of ours - OR volunteer to do your own painting or gardening to save on costs, that falls under the heading of "penny-wise and pound-foolish," and often throws our well-choreographed process into complete chaos. (We can't control your people and that's problematic when they don't show up.)
Unless you painted homes while attending college (and some of you have.) you won't complete these tasks faster or more skillfully than our crews can, or will. Ironically, the same Sellers who have often dragged their feet for months to move out, become very anxious about getting their houses on the market IMMEDIATELY, once having vacated. (As discussed, we're still going to need 3-4 weeks to bring your house to market "ready for prime time.")
Moreover, good Stagers have tight schedules and they book weeks, if not months, in advance. If we don't deliver the house to them in pristine condition and ready for staging ON TIME, we won't be delayed just a few days, but probably several weeks while we get back in line and wait our turn. (If you thought you were anxious before, just imagine how such a setback is going to affect your sleep.)
Here's the thing most Sellers don't understand . . . between the time you sign the listing agreement and when we bring your property to market, we will need to clear out the house entirely (including attics, garages, and basements) order inspections, collect bids, sign contracts, create a disclosure package, address overdue repairs, paint, garden, mulch, clean, wash windows, stage, photograph, write copy, design a marketing campaign, and get the house ready for Sunday Opens. (Yes, they're coming back.) It's a highly-charged, fast-paced, take-no-prisoners chorus of activity, and each step must take place in the correct order to pull it off on time and with finesse. Unfortunately, one misstep can wreak havoc. So while we appreciate that your cousin needs the work and can rebuild the fence for less . . . we'd prefer he didn't.
Finally, while you undoubtedly know your home better than your Realtor, it doesn't automatically follow that you know how to SELL your home. Homes are highly personal expressions, not to mention extremely expensive undertakings, and each prospective Buyer has to make the property work for their family before they can see themselves living in what's been someone else's home for many years. The well-meaning nostalgic comment that "my children loved lying on the grass in the backyard watching the planes fly overhead," can just as easily be interpreted to mean: "this house sits under the flight path to the airport."
In short, such disclosures should be outlined in the seller questionnaires, and a move-in, detailed walk-thru with the Buyers should happen only AFTER the close of escrow, when such innocent comments won't be grounds for cancelling the sale. (There's a reason real estate is transacted by neutral third parties.)
At the risk of being terribly blunt, Sellers tend to be the least objective people in the room. You've loved the home; you've lived with it "AS-IS" for many years, and you can't imagine why X, Y, or Z are problematic issues for anyone else - they never were for you! We understand, but just because you didn't mind hearing the Friday-night football games from your backyard, doesn't mean that the next homeowner isn't going to struggle with what they perceive as unwelcome "noise."
Just remember that while selling a house is a highly personal and emotional transaction, it's also a business one. Additionally, you are likely counting on the net proceeds to carry you to your next chapter in life. With the understanding that our intention is to make the home SHINE, allow us the latitude to keep you at arm's length (and to protect your sanity) by keeping you OUT of the gritty details.
As you've likely selected your Realtor after careful consideration and multiple interviews, the best thing you can do is focus on your move-out date and let us do what we do expertly which is to bring your home to market in its best light, and then leverage the interest to obtain the highest price and most favorable terms. (That was the goal, correct?) Once the train is in motion, ALL the worrying and "micromanaging" in the world, isn't going to change the outcome; it's only going to add to your anxiety (and ours).
So let go (with both hands), hand over your keys, keep breathing, and know deep down that "we've got this." (We do.) Together, Jill, Sarah and I have brought hundreds of homes to the market, compared to your few . . . Believe me when I say we know what we are doing, AND it's in your best interest to let us drive the train and do it . . . .
Because honestly, if you have to "micromanage" your Agents, you didn't hire the right team to begin with.
How can we help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.