I recently spoke to some friends from Ohio who initially listed their home For Sale By Owner (FSBO), and ultimately ended up listing with the wrong agent. The whole experience was one of frustration and in the end they felt they cheated. Let’s talk about what went wrong.
Here’s what happened: The husband, Jon, had earned his initial real estate license here in Florida. His wife, Jan, was still in Ohio and planned to move down a year after Jon due to some family obligations. Given Jon’s real estate experience, they decided to list the house FSBO and save the commission. They put a sign in the yard and did some advertising on social media and some buy/sell/trade sites. After several months of little to no activity, a Realtor came to one of the open houses. This Realtor, Mr. Jones, was a past business partners with the Jon’s father. Jon and Jan felt if they were going to list with anyone it would be him. Mr. Jones used the past relationship and played on the fear factor of a woman all alone with a house for sale to pressure a listing. They reluctantly listed and things quickly went from bad to worse.
First, Mr. Jones did not provide clear expectations. He never provided a market analysis nor did he discuss the current market conditions and what the home was truly worth. He simply asked what they wanted to list for and listed the house. Mr. Jones took seven really bad photos. When confronted with this he stated he was not a photographer… the homeowners ended up taking their own photos and insisting he upload them to replace his. He dragged his feet in getting it done. They were so frustrated by the lack of marketing my friends pushed their own house on social media and buy, sell, trade sights. Jon and Jan felt that Mr. Jones did not advocate for the positive features of the home. For example, they had a tankless water heater, so the home would never run out of hot water. They owned a five bedroom house in a family neighborhood, a tankless heater is one heck of a great selling feature that should have been cited in marketing material and public remarks in the MLS. Their frustration continued when Mr. Jones continued to focus on a repaired crack in the foundation, no doubt because he knew the home was overpriced, even though Jon and Jan provided the closed permit and receipt from a licensed professional that the repair had been completed correctly. By the way, it was never an issue during the home inspection. An offer finally came in, much lower than the asking price. The market had spoken and it became clear to Jon and Jan, their house was not worth what they were asking. In retrospect, my friends wish they would have interviewed several agents and received several Comparable Market Analysis’ before even listing FSBO. I’m sure they probably still would not have liked what they heard about the value of their home, but at least they would have had clear expectations from the beginning.
Remember our tried and true rule:
A home sells when Location, Condition and Price are on an equal level.