My husband got talked into going with his friend's wife to sell our house. We aren't happy with her. Now what?

Asked by Karen, Stevens Point, WI Fri Nov 14, 2008

She is new to real estate. She listed our house almost two month ago and we have not gotten any offers. So far only about 7 or 8 showings and NONE have been with her, all with other agents. She has given us unasked for decorating advice. We want to SELL our house and the last thing we need to do is spend time and money fixing it up for someone else to live in. She will only advertise in our newspaper every other week and says it is a waste of money. She has done three open houses and a couple of realtor's open houses but NOTHING. We are very frustrated with her. She sent out some kind of flyers to our neighbors. She asked me to hang up a flyer at my church and elsewhere, but I said no thank you. I thought that was unprofessional, and if we wanted to do the work we would have sold it ourselves. I thought at first the price was too low, but now I think she may have priced it too high. We don't want to harm my husband's relationship with her husband, they are good friends and coworkers.

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Homeseller, Home Seller, Stevens Point, WI
Tue Feb 17, 2009
I'm with you Karen. I've had the same experience in Stevens Point.I thought I was hiring a seller, a closer. I have yet to see any serious sales effort. It seems that real estate folks favorite words are updates and drop the price. Where is the vision from these professionals? I have made it abundantly clear that I was certainly willing to negotiate reasonable updates from any serious buyers. Those words fell on deaf ears. Realtors want you to dump a lot of money into a property and then drop the price for an easy sale. I've done the math on price decreases and I notice that commissions don't fall as fast as price drops.So you're out money and their commissions don't change that much.
1 vote
Kristin Noll, , Milwaukee, WI
Sun Dec 7, 2008
Holy moly!

The only thing your agent did wrong is not educating you on the home selling process.

1. It's not decorating advice it's called STAGING. If you look at any articles on selling your home, they ALL suggest doing necessary repairs and updates to help your home compete with other listings. If you don't "fix it up for someone else to live in" that "someone else" will buy a house where the sellers were willing to do the work instead of your house. If you want to SELL, then do the updates or lower the price.

2. There's no market in Wisconsin, that I am aware of, where the average days-on-market are less than 90 days, unkless you are in a really "hot" area. You are averaging 1 showing a week. You probably had them all the first two weeks too. That was the most motivated group of buyers you'll ever see and they have rejected your property. Probably because it's overpriced or too dated compared to other properties. Do you realize that other properties go MONTHS without even ONE showing?

3. Newspaper ads are expensive, short-lived and ineffective. Your house will get a ton more exposure on the internet, through MLS and the lawn sign. She's better off spending that money on broker's open tours. Spending all of that money for the "one buyer chance" is ridiculous - there are no buyers out there who ONLY read the paper for houses. They will drive through neighborhoods (and see the sign), go on line, check grocery store listing books like Harmon Homes, hear about a place through friends/family and/or see a flyer at a community location.

4. Open houses don't sell the house - they are a meet & greet for agents. Serious buyers don't go through open houses - they make appointments with their agent. All you get at open houses are looky-loos, nosey neighbors and drive-bys who can't even afford the house or aren't even pre-approved yet. Your house is open 24/7 on the web.

5. Agents RARELY sell their own listing. Even with extensive internet exposure, with most calls I get, the people already have an agent.

6. I ask sellers to post a copy of my flyers at their work, church and other community areas. Those are possibly like-minded folks who may be interested in their property for the same reason the sellers bought it in the first place. It's SMART! Even if she didn't ask you to do it, you should do it anyway! She should get kudos for thinking to ask you to do it. "Unprofessional" would be if she didn't even think of it.

7. At first the price is too low and now SHE has priced it too high? It was probably the look of shock and horror on your face when she told you her price opinion that made her price it higher for you. Obviously, you liked that price and agreed to it. SHE didn't set the price, you did.

I've been selling real estate for 12 years and I can tell you that all of the things which you think are "wrong" are actually signs of a motivated and hardworking agent. Most agents toss it in MLS and wait. Her biggest mistake is not telling you what to expect in the process.

I agree with the other agents - either do what your agent suggests - and I mean ALL of it - or ask her to do another market analysis and get a REASONABLE price.

What the heck did you hire her for if you aren't going to listen to her professional advice??
1 vote
Lori Rossi, Agent, Warwick, RI
Sat Nov 15, 2008
I don't think that you truly frustated with the realtor, I think you are frustated because your home hasn't sold yet.She seems to be doing everything possible-plus some to sell your home. If the property has been on the market for 60 days and you seem to be having some activity, but no offers. It's the price-you need to reduce the price. Your realtor may be feeling the same fustration with you, and being a friend, she may be afraid to approach you for a price reduction. Take it upon yourself to ask for a new market analysis and possibly a price reduction-and hang some flyers-if it helps, who cares who does it. I assure you, things will work out if you work together to achieve your goal of SOLD! I hope it works out for you, both in the sale of your home and your friendship. Good luck!
1 vote
Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Sat Nov 15, 2008
7-8 showings in 2 months is fantastic, but what wories me is none are with her, that means your house is priced right as people are coming to see, but through MLS not from her efforts. I disagree with with newspaper advertising being a waste. if even 1 person sees the ad, comes and looks and puts in an offer, that is not a waste. your house needs to be advertised each and every week by your realtor. just becuase buyers are using the internet to start the search for a home it is not getting your home in front of their eyes, the agent needs to get your house the maximum exposure it needs and desrves. this is where she is going wrong, one thing you dont mention, is she doing th showings with other realtors or just sending them over unassisted. i believe that the realtor should be there for all showings, able to answer questions like where is teh lot lione, how old is the roof and pinting out what makes your home special. you wouldnt go to a new doctor to get healed form an injury or a new mechanic to get your car fixed or a new hair stylist to learn cutting hair on you, so you shouldnt put all your apples on on the job training, insist her broker assists her to make things right.
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1 vote
Vicky Chrisn…, Agent, Purcellvile, VA
Fri Nov 14, 2008
Karen - You might need a new agent, because with the information you've shared it appears you have completely false expectations of an agent and have no clue about the market or the process of selling. She's probably doing more right than you're giving her credit for... but since she can not communicate that to you (probably because you didn't want to hire her in the first place), you have the wrong agent. You're wasting her time and yours. You need an agent you trust. It's a tough market. You'll never sell with this agent, because you are trying to prove that she can't sell your house. If a seller wants to prove that an agent can't sell a house, guess what - the agent can't.
1 vote
Jeff Davis, , Lapeer, MI
Fri Nov 14, 2008
It actually sounds like she is doing a pretty good job. Two months 7-8 showings is good. For them to only be with other Realtors is more then normal and doesn't say in and of itself anything bad about her. Newspaper doesn't sell houses, either do open house for the most part, can happen, but doesn't, like it used to. Sounds like she is doing everything she can and may be going above and beyond because you are friends. It is a very stressful situation especially in this market so I understand your frustration but your agent is doing a good job, trust me, I have heard much worse. But if you have some concerns, you should talk with her in person. As far as the flyers and the church thats a better way to sell a house then newspaper, from my experience anyway. And her being new to real estate, don't let that scare you. When I started I became the top producing agent in my office within my first year, sometimes newbies have new eyes, new ideas and different sticks out. Good luck BTW is she advertising on the internet?
1 vote
Karen Melillo, Agent, Sedona, AZ
Sat Oct 26, 2013
Sounds like she is doing an AWESOME job!!
Just because you have not gotten an offer is not her fault. I think in all likelihood your price is probably too high. the market is speaking to you!
Very hard to believe that you would not like this Gal when she is bending over backwards to help you! Rethink your position. Quite frankly, you are WRONG!
0 votes
campper77, Both Buyer And Seller, 54481
Sat Oct 26, 2013
You can fire your agent at any time. So if thats what you think is best, go ahead and do it-its your house. However, if you keep firing agents, youll soon be blacklisted and will be hard pressed to find one thatll take you on. Id say FSBO it. Its alot cheaper. Go to all real estate offices in your town and tell them that youll pay the agent who brings a buyer 3% of the selling price.
0 votes
Kristin Noll, , Milwaukee, WI
Mon Feb 23, 2009
"I'm with you Karen. I've had the same experience in Stevens Point.I thought I was hiring a seller, a closer. I have yet to see any serious sales effort. It seems that real estate folks favorite words are updates and drop the price. Where is the vision from these professionals? I have made it abundantly clear that I was certainly willing to negotiate reasonable updates from any serious buyers. Those words fell on deaf ears. Realtors want you to dump a lot of money into a property and then drop the price for an easy sale. I've done the math on price decreases and I notice that commissions don't fall as fast as price drops.So you're out money and their commissions don't change that much."

These comments only show that you don't know how to sell real estate. Everyone thinks it's so easy and this is a typical misconception among sellers - that we just want you to lower the price. Personally, I ask sellers to do updates only if I think it'll get them MORE money.

First off, if you wait to do the "reasonable updates" you turn away many buyers who will see your photos of a dated house and don't even make the appoitment to get through your front door. Once they get there, every update will cost you 3 times (in a buyer's mind) than it would have const you to do it ahead of time. They want to take that off the price. Where you could have changed some fixtures and a countertop for $1,500, the buyer sees a $20,000 kitchen redo. So, they'll automatically think you're $20,000 overpriced. MOST buyers won't make an offer on a property which they think the seller isn't going to negotiate. And if you are in completely the wrong price bracket - say $250,000 when you should be at $225,000, then you will never get an offer. The $250k buyers will just laugh and buy house that is really worth $250k and the $225 buyers won't write an offer because they'll never see you're house - it won't come up in their search results because they're only searching up to $225k.

Everything comes down to price, because for the right price, people will buy ANY house.

What do you consider "serious sales effort?" Lots of open houses and newspaper ads? If so, you're completely misinformed. Open houses generate tirekickers and nosy neighbors. About 4% of home sell off open houses. Would you keep spending hours and hours doing something that has a 4% chance of success? Agents sold sellers on Open houses becaue they were great sources of future business - they knew that 99% of buyers at an open house will NOT buy that house. And 90% of buyers are searching for houses online. Why waste $300 for an ineffective ad? I'd rather put that money into better photos, a staging expert,a virtual tour....not a print.

There's only so much we can do with an overpriced, dated house when there are so many cheaper, updated houses for the buyers to choose. And why hire an agent when you don't want to listen to their advice??

We don't "sell" houses. We market and negotiate. A house sells itself to the buyer. But it has to be the right condition at the right price. No salesmenship in the world will sell an overpriced house. Buyers are too smart for that. All we can do is try to get the sellers to do the thing that allow their property to complete and appeal to buyer, market the heck out of the property, negotiate offers and protect our client's interests.

There's something you and no agent can never change - the buyers are looking at ALL properties on the market in a certain price range. If your house isn't as nice as those, they won't buy it, nor will they bother making an offer. They will just buy a nicer house in their price range. Buyers in the lower price range won't make an offer because they think you won't take it and it's a waste of time. So they'll focus on houses in their price range and never see your house.

If you won't get the house into the same shape as the competition, in the same price range, then you have to lower the price. It has nothing to do with agents and their commissions - it's just what buyers expect in a buyer's market. In ANY market, really.
0 votes
NonRealtor, , 23456
Mon Dec 8, 2008
Maybe you should just keep the house. You like it, right? Good Luck
0 votes
Andrea Mills, Agent, Sebring, FL
Sat Nov 15, 2008
You have not mentioned anything about your agent giving you an in depth market study for your area. Maybe she has and you haven't mentioned it, maybe she hasn't. However, with 60 days into the listing and 8 showings, 3 open houses and a couple of realtor's open houses - I would say your agent has done quite a lot to sell your home. Does it make a difference who shows the property? Would you rather get 8 showings from 8 other agents or only two showings from your own agent? It should not matter at all which agents brings you the offer. The goal is to sell the home.
I don't feel your agent was unprofessional in asking you to hang up flyers for her. She created them, she spent the money printing them. There would have been no work involved on your side.

Bottom line is: if you had that many showings and that many open houses but no offers yet, your home is overpriced or its condition doesn't justify the price.
0 votes
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Sat Nov 15, 2008
Hi Karen:

As an out of state Realtor, it is difficult for me to tell you about your Marekt condition and how fast / how slow your house should sell at what price, so I won't touch that. .

However, I think you should ask your agent to give you analysis on the current market condition, how many houses are on the makret at what price and how long does it take to sell those houses (the absorption rate of the local market).

I do think she gave you some good suggestion about fixing up your house to make it stand out among others; it is especially important in this market. .

Each of us have only so many buyers and they may or may not be looking for a certain type of home so a big advantage to go with Realtors is to give your house exposure to the many other Realtors so they can bring their buyers to come and see your home, so you should be pleased that other Realtors are showing your home. .

If you don't feel confident with her representation due to her lack of experience in R.E., you might want to ask to meet with her and her Broker and go over your concerns. Her broker might be able to ask a more expeirenced Realtor to work with her to sell your home.

If you feel it's priced high, then after her new comparable, please do not hesitate to drop the price - although usually you want the drop of price to make an impact instead just a little at a time. So, that's something else to look at.

0 votes
Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Sat Nov 15, 2008
You have some very good posts to your question. Here are a few key points that might help you.

In most areas the greatest interest in a listing occurs in the first two or three weeks on the market. The standard expected is 10-12 showings or one offer in the first two weeks.

In most markets about 20% of the listings are prepared for market correctly, marketed correctly, and priced correctly. They typically sell within 30 days at closest to asking price. In my market that means if it sells in 30 days it will sell at 100.3% of asking price. At 120 days they sell for 92.7% of asking...and that is AFTER some price reductions.

So your home is definitely in the 80%. You are not receptive to her advice for enhancing the value of your home. Perhaps if she was not a friend, you'd listen to her. That's too bad because the worst sellers are those that think they know more than their Realtor. In most cases even new Realtors have mentors that offer them advice and training.

I do not think firing her is the answer. I think you need to do some tweaking to your home's marketability.
Repaint the trim on the front of the house.
Paint the front of the house.
Plant some nice fall flowers in the front.
Declutter the house. Remove anything that does not absolutely need to be there.
Clean the inside of the home thoroughly. Touch up paint if needed.
Re-stage the it.
Take new pictures.
Drop the price 5%
Invite 200 neighbors to an open house on a Saturday with the ball game on , cook hotdogs, raffle off a digital camera or certificate to a local restaurant.

Meet with your Realtor and ask her to bring the following:
Since your home hit the market, how many homes, like yours have:
Come on the market
Lowered their price
gone into escrow

Tell her you want to see that list each week.

Go out and look at the 10-12 homes that are competing with yours. Visit them on an open house. Take notes. Compare your home to theirs.

Somebody is buying homes in your area. If ANY of those other homes sell within two weeks after you have your re-launch, then lower the price again.

Good luck.
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Sat Nov 15, 2008

Our rule number one is, "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is....." To follow up on this, our rule number two is NEVER doe business with reiends or relatives.

At this point it looks like you are stuck and need to wait it out. By this we mean, wait until your agreement with her expires and then move on to another agent. In doing so you may want to take the position of looking for a larger company, a company that is a major player in your vacinity, a company that will sell for less commission, do a FSBO etc.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way out but on the other hand, there is always the chance that she will sell it....... problem solved.

Note to self.......remember the first two rules
0 votes
Pat Tasker, Agent, Menomonee Falls, WI
Fri Nov 14, 2008
Your agent is your "marketing director". Her job is to market this home to buyers AND other agents. Sounds like she is doing all the right things...I don't know your market, but that is GOOD activity for what is going on today in real estate! That amount of showings tells me her marketing IS attracting buyers, unfortunately (for her) they are already working with an agent, so they look at it with that agent, and don't have to call your agent to see it! When you hired her, you hired her for her expertise. She is giving you feedback from buyers, and suggesting things you can do to make your house attractive to the buyer pool for your particular type of home, price and area. While you might not want to do anything to the house, you should listen to her, and take her advice if you want to SELL the house. National association of REaltors survey of buyers indicated the average buyer today is 32 years old...if you notice, they are always online, and texting to communicate, THEY ARE NOT TYPICALLY READING NEWSPAPERS.....they are online! So advertising in the paper is wasting time and money...your buyers will not be found there... I think you are frustrated because you haven't gotten an offer...with that many showings, (again according to national statistics) you WOULD if the price was correct for the market...with that many showings, it sounds like you are CLOSE to the right price, a slight adjustment will probably help you get an offer...
It sounds to me like your agent is doing her job, maybe she could share some statistics for your area to prove the points I have described above....good luck to you and your agent :)
0 votes
The Hagley G…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Fri Nov 14, 2008
It all comes down to Price, Product, or Pitch...

PRICE: If you're getting showings, you are within 3% of where you need to be on price. Just because she is not bringing buyers through does not mean she is not doing her job.....some agents are listing agents, some are buyers agents, some are both....

PRODUCT: Your home....does it show well? Good curb appeal?

PITCH: The marketing. The fact that she is spending even a penny in newspaper scares me. She should have an enhanced listing on, and be on Zillow, craigslist, backpage, etc.....most consumers use the internet extensively to market homes.

Before you fire her, why not suggest a meeting with her and her broker?
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0 votes
Erica Muller, Agent, Winter Garden, FL
Fri Nov 14, 2008
Hi Karen,

Your agent is right that newspaper advertising is a waste. With 80% of buyers starting their home search online it makes more sense for her to be spending those advertising dollars on the web. If she's not doing any advertising on the web she should start educating herself on how to harness the power of the net to sell homes.

2 months is not a long time for a home to be sitting in this market. Homes here in Florida are sitting almost a year before they sell.

As far as the church flyers go, I give her credit because it's creative but may I suggest taking it a step further and also posting something about your home on the church blog.

Give her a chance, I know it's an awkward situation but she may surprise you. If it doesn't work out than have your husband do the dirty work. . .just kidding. I hope it all works out.

Kindest Regards,

Erica Muller
0 votes
Joan Newton, , Florissant, MO
Fri Nov 14, 2008
It sounds like you started out on the wrong foot, so to speak, and did not establish a trusting relationship, communication is the key. In this market two months is not a lot of time with no showings. There are a lot of homes on the market and buyers have a lot to choose from. Your agent should have given you a time frame of how long homes in your area have been on the market before selling. If your agent gave you advice on decorating, she knows what buyers are looking for when looking to purchase a home. Take her advice! That's what you are paying her for, her expert advice. Sounds like she's aware that 85% of buyer's start their search via the internet. Sounds like your agent is being creative, when she asked you to place flyers at your church. She's trying to get the word out, that you want to sell your home, by any means necessary. Listen to your agent, keep the lines of communication open at all times. Also if you have had some showings, it's an indication it may be priced right, just be patient in this market and your home will sell. New agents try harder. I was one once, I know. If you are being honest, you can never harm a relationship.
0 votes
Vernieke Ro…, , South Windsor, CT
Fri Nov 14, 2008
It sounds like she is doing a good job. You mention that she had done open houses and nothing happen, this is not the best of markets to sell a house in less than 2 months. I suggest you talk to her and explain how you are feeling and maybe you can come to an agreement. Let her know how you are feeling and what you want out of this. Maybe the price of your home is to high or you need to make some changes to the way the home shows. Also, you should consider internet advertising
Good luck, i hope this doesn't hurt your relationship with her.
0 votes
BECKY PANASUK, , Baltimore, MD
Fri Nov 14, 2008
I know you seem very frustrated at the moment, but I really wouldn't blame her. It really sounds as though she is desperately trying to sell your home through various means. I simply would have a talk with her and say what else can we do to get this sold. A price reduction is a great start in this market, but its just the begining. Take her up on her tips of moving some things around to showcase the home better. Most of all be patient especially if she is new. Actually ,I prefer newbies because they are the ones that go above and beyond. They may not have the built in buyers network , but they should have it built within the agency, maybe a mentor of hers could be helpful in this situation.

Good Luck to both of you and remember sometimes friendship is more important than getting frustrated too quickly. This market is rough for all of us.
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