Monday, May 18, 2009

I'd Like to Sell Your Condo but... - Redux

South Cocoa Beach backyard.

I had several incidents with listing agents doing crappy jobs for their clients last week. It got me to thinking about revisiting a post from last year, I'd Like to Sell Your Condo but... In that post I listed my top 5 reasons for properties not selling. Those reasons still stand as the top five most common but I've encountered a few contenders for the list since that time.

How about the listing agent who was out of town last Tuesday when I presented an offer on one of his short sale listings in Cape Canaveral. His assistant responded with the news that he would return this week and present our offer upon his return. No one in his office was qualified or motivated enough to present in his absence and he apparently didn't think it important enough to plan for in advance. It's day 7 and the seller just saw the offer for the first time. Think this short sale will breeze through the process when it finally does get submitted? We're not holding our breath. By the way, this listing office specializes in short sales and loan modifications. They pitch themselves as the experts.

Then there's the listing agent who pitches low commission to get the listing with the understanding from the seller that there will be no advertising, virtual tours or open houses. I suspect he neglects to tell them that the MLS photos will suck as well. That already low commission is then divided unequally with the buyer's broker being offered a rock bottom amount in the MLS with the listing agent unencumbered with any responsibilities other than fielding offers should one actually materialize and keeping the lion's share of the paycheck for his non-effort. Does that keep me from showing his listings knowing that my efforts will be rewarded with a 33% to 50% pay cut? No, but I'm guessing that there might be a few hungry buyer's agents who may just skip over his listings in favor of ones that will put more groceries on the table. His clients are apparently content to mentally spend the fantasy dollars they are saving while they sit in their La-Z-Boys waiting for the doorbell to ring. This same office is one of the ones that routinely keep keys in the office, often miles from the properties, to save money on lockboxes. It might be prudent to reconsider if you are inclined to go with the low bidder to help you sell your property.

Here are a few requests I'd like to address directly to the listing agents to help those of us on the buying side get your properties sold.

Ms. Listing Agent,

please consider putting your cell phone number in your listings just in case I have questions from an interested buyer and your office is closed. Don't be afraid that you're going to be bothered after hours by pesky buyer's agents. We're just trying to sell your listing for you.

please consider putting a lockbox on your property so that I don't have to drive to your office twice to pick up and drop off keys. The time we save may allow us to see more than one of your listings. If your broker is too cheap to furnish an electronic lockbox, Ace Hardware sells good combo lockboxes for less than $40. (I understand that some property management companies don't allow lockboxes. In that case, carry on.)

please don't use jailhouse mirror photography on the ocean view so that we don't see the hulking building immediately next door. We're going to see it the moment we walk in the door anyway and the obvious deception may turn off the buyers, who might have otherwise been OK with the compromised view.

please don't code your listing as waterfront if it's not. We agents know that Villages of Seaport property is technically oceanfront as it extends from Atlantic Ave all the way to the ocean but if your listing is a half mile hoof from the beach, it's not oceanfront and does not deserve that dishonest classification, technicalities aside. Like the misleading ocean view photo above, you're only attempting to mislead internet-searching buyers who will know the truth when we pull up or when I explain your deception to them.

please don't start defending your client's outrageous asking price when I bring you a reasonable offer. Please take the offer to the seller of the property and let them decide how to respond. You only look silly trying to rationalize why your listing is worth $100,000 more than recent comparable sales. I may occasionally present unreasonably low offers but, just like you, I am not a principal to the transaction. The actual buyers and sellers make the decisions. An offer, no matter how crazy it seems, is an invitation to begin negotiations.

Do not take this rant as an insinuation that all listing agents are slackers and/or deceitful. That is not the case. There are many who go above and beyond the call of duty to get their clients the best possible deal at the best possible terms. You know who you are and I appreciate your efforts and professionalism. The rest of you that inspired this post, consider cleaning up your act.

My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.
_____________Ernest Hemingway