The Biggest Mistake a Seller Can Make

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By Susan Fogel
One of my favorite cartoons strips in the Old Country was Cathy. Cathy was an angst-ridden, single-career woman. One of the story lines features Cathy’s hunt for her first home. Cathy stomped out of two real estate offices when the agents told her the truth about how little she could afford. As the door slammed behind Cathy, the second agent held her head in her hands and said “Why can’t I be the third real estate agent?”
When it comes to listing properties and talking to sellers that have their own ideas about how high the price on their house should be, I always, think of the old real estate saying: “It’s better to be the first child, the second spouse, and the third Realtor.”
By the time a seller has had their home listed with two other agents, they are starting to get the message that their house may be over-priced. And the third Realtor gets to be the one that takes the listing at the right price.
One of the biggest mistakes you as a seller can make is listing your house at a higher price than suggested by your agent. Remember Realtors earn a commission on the price of your home, it would be in their best interest to sell for the highest price they can. So when they suggest a lower price, it is because they know the market and what buyers are willing to pay for your house.
As your property sits on the MLS, the number of days it has been on the market climbs, and buyers can see that information. They will wonder what is wrong with your property if they see it has been sitting for hundreds of days. And this is the same reason why pricing high and waiting and hoping for a change in your market works against you. Your listing becomes dated, old, shop worn in the eyes of other agents and buyers.
The MLS in Baja Sur is open to the public, and all of the member agents have search boxes on their websites. Even if buyers have not visited your home, they have seen it over and over again during their searches. Buyers don’t make offers on over-priced properties because:

  1. They don’t want to offend you
  2. They believe you have turned down other offers, and that is why it is still on the market
  3. They incorrectly think that you know your house is over-priced and, if you really wanted to sell, you would lower the price.

Too many times, when talking with sellers about the price of their home, I hear “Well we need room to bargain!” Buyers don’t see it that way. They may be willing to look at homes $10,000-$20,000 over their budget, but not $100,000 or more. And in the end, it is the buyer that sets the price by making an offer on your home.  What a buyer is willing to pay and what you want for your home can be very different.
A strategy I would offer is to price your home at the lower end of your tolerance. We are in high season; we are showing property almost every day right now. Pricing your house a little lower than you think it is worth may result in multiple offers or at least, an offer that you can work with. Holding out for a magic number only costs you money in the long run. And you have to keep the house show-ready at all times, and you may be missing the market up north, where prices are starting to climb. If you don’t have an offer during the high season it could be another year before you see an activity, and meanwhile your home ages as a commodity on the market.
BUYERS! Don’t forego looking at homes you think are over-priced. You may like the home, and a seller that has not seen a buyer for months or years may be willing to look at a lower offer. As we say in Mexico, “Paper Talks” and a written purchase offer shouts out loud to a seller.
Timing is everything. The seller may be feeling ready to bargain if only someone would give them the opportunity, or they may be feeling lonely for family at the holidays, or just fed up with waiting for the ship of gold to sail in. So buyers, take a look at some houses outside your comfort zone and make an offer, no one is going to shoot you. The seller has three choices:

  1. Accept your offer.
  2. Reject your offer.
  3. Counter your offer.

SELLERS, before you allow yourself to be offended by a low offer, think about how many actual showings you have had, how many offers you have had, how long you have been trying to sell, and how badly you want to move on to the next adventure in your life. The market is getting busy, there are buyers making offers, but there are a lot of homes on the market. Get your home sold this season by pricing it right and being open to reasonable offers.

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