Insider Scoop: 6 Things You Should Never Tell Your Real Estate Agent
There are a number of statements your real estate agent hopes never to hear from you. Some are spoken as the result of a client’s attempt to be kind; some out of anxiety, or a lack of knowledge about the efficient functioning of the marketplace. Please believe me when I ask you to bite your tongue before uttering any one of the following:
1. “Oh, but I hope you will find the buyer for the apartment.” Sellers never use this phrase except when they have just informed you that, while your presentation was great, they have decided to hire someone else to represent the sale of their property. If we happen to have an appropriate buyer, we will of course show the property and maybe even sell it. But the two sides of the transaction are not related. The possibility that our buyer might buy this property has nothing to do with our disappointment about not being chosen to represent it. Probably no one would say to an attorney they decided not to hire, “But I hope you will represent our adversary.” At least, not unless they thought the aforementioned person was a REALLY bad attorney. It’s not so different, and it’s NOT comforting, to say it to an agent.
2. “My dinner partner last year told me he would pay $10 million for my apartment.” We hear this a lot. Please believe me when I say in my experience no dinner partner has ever made good on that assurance. It doesn’t mean that the property should be priced at $10 million unless compellingly similar comparables indicate that to be the correct price. The dinner-partner theory of pricing rarely has much basis in the realities of the marketplace.
3. “But my property is so much better than those others you are comparing it to.” We all fall victim to the “endowment effect,” which is the name psychologists give to the phenomenon by which we tend to overvalue what belongs to us while undervaluing that which belongs to others. It’s best for all of us to try to accept up front that we, as owners, are rarely impartial judges of the value of our personal real estate. Mostly, the comparables don’t lie.
4. “I would never live on the East Side (or the West Side, or Tribeca)” This is fine for a buyer to say if she REALLY means it. But every agent has had the experience of having a buyer insist that she would never ever go to a neighborhood where she then buys after answering an ad placed by a competing agent. It’s our job to try to stretch our buyers’ parameters to find their perfect home, even if elements of it may fall outside their immediate comfort zone. When we do that we hope that they will come along with us on the journey.
5. “It only takes one person.” That’s true, but with a very few exceptions, that person who wants the property so desperately that he is willing to overpay for it just isn’t out there. Especially in a market like the one we are in today, buyers feel extremely price sensitive. The dream of that “one person” almost never comes true, and in the meantime the property languishes on the market at the wrong price, accumulating days on market. “It only takes one person” is a fantasy, not a strategy.
6. “Let’s offer 40% below the asking price.” It’s just never a good idea. Period. We agents are professionals. The best of us, like a good lawyer, doctor, or accountant, have devoted many years to developing the skills which enable us to add real value to our clients’ buying and selling experiences. Although every New Yorker likes to believe him or herself to be a real estate market expert, that is our job. We just ask that we be allowed to do it.