Managing Expectations

By Carrie Foley

I always strive to keep a positive attitude, see the potential in everything and remain optimistic in all my dealings, professionally and personally. I recently came to the conclusion that it is not always in our clients’ best interest to be perpetually optimistic, particularly with homesellers.

Previously, I would tour a client’s home, praising their gorgeous kitchen counters, cooing over the natural light and becoming giddy about some other upgrade. But with these reactions, I was artificially stroking the ego of the seller and setting them up to expect this same warm feedback from picky homebuyers. They would love my enthusiasm for their home, but when the first few showings resulted in no offers and less than flattering feedback, the sellers were dismayed – and angry with me.

Before I would see the good in a home’s negative features and was eager to overcome any obstacle with a potential buyer. I have now taken the tough-love approach and helped sellers properly prepare a home for a successful sale, even if it means telling them the things they don’t want to hear. It is best to be brutally honest with sellers about the paint colors they must change, the tattered furniture that needs to be removed, or the pet odor that will kill a sale for them.

The same goes for pricing. I would love to sell clients’ homes for their asking price, but if I take overpriced listings with a smile and two weeks later I am asking for price reductions to an amounts I suggested in the beginning, sellers are angry with me and frustrated with the process. I know clients may list with an agent that gives them the highest listing price, but I will take that risk over sellers with unrealistic expectations.

For buyers, I tell them up front that I will play devil’s advocate with them. If a buyer is in love with a home, I will gain their trust by honestly pointing out items that could potentially be problems for them in the future. Buyers rely on the professional and honest feedback we can provide by taking an unemotional point of view of the home to help them to a sound buying decision.

Educating our clients about the entire homebuying or selling process, the good and the bad, prepares them for the roller coaster ride that is to come. Managing expectations is a key indicator of success in this business. You have to have thick skin for it and you may turn a few people off along the way. So, yes, I have talked a few buyers out of buying homes, and maybe lost a few listings, but I sleep better at night for it.

CARRIE FOLEY is a national REthink Council member and agent with Seattle-based Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate. Find Carrie at Facebook or on Twitter, @CarrieFoleyRE.

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