Selling Advice

See the USA!

Pictured home: 15-1845 23rd Avenue, Kea`au.

Bonanza, Hoss Cartwright, and Chevrolet — all classics forever part of my Sunday evening TV memories. Most folks back in the day were “Seeing the USA in their Chevrolet” yet yearning to cruise “Route 66” in a Cadillac. It was part of my first exposure to the concept that “you get what you pay for.” And so it is with REALTORS®.

“Discount” Agents

In today’s market, listing inventory is tight. While seasoned professionals tend to stick to what really works, others offer discounted services in order to entice sellers to list with them. Experienced agents know what it costs to sell a listing. Each office sets commissions, but typically, a seller can expect to pay at least 6% on a residential sale. Because two offices generally split commissions, a $100,000 sale normally nets the seller’s agent about $2,100 (much less than the cost of marketing your home yourself).

Marketing Magic

Today, as much as ever, moving real estate is directly tied to effective marketing. So much so that I know when a properly priced listing isn’t selling, marketing is the problem. An effective marketing plan includes hard costs that quickly approach $1,000 for even an average listing that sells in a timely manner. Of course, listings that don’t sell quickly cost more to market.

Buyer’s agents expect their full 3% split, leaving the seller’s agent to absorb marketing costs and commission adjustments. When discounted services are offered, in reality, savings are being passed through in the form of reduced services.

Service Reductions

New agents and offices scrambling for listings are those most likely to accept commission reductions. Accepting less than optimal services is like asking a seller to accept a Chevy and then asking them to do without the tires. Agents proposing this discounted concept would have sellers believe they can undermine the competition. The reality is they are normally only eliminating services.

As strong as the market is, now more than ever, a successful sale relies heavily on a complete menu of marketing services. It’s no time to gamble with accepting a reduction in services. Like the Chevy without the tires, doing so may make it impossible for a seller to reach their destination.

Agents willing to discount their own value are telling a seller exactly what they believe they are worth. Their ability to protect their own compensation would certainly create doubt as to their ability to negotiate effectively on the seller’s behalf. Real Estate transactions are, by nature, complicated. Accepting less than a full menu of services may actually result in a seller accepting less for the property than they saved on commissions. The bottom line is, if you are selling, go for the Caddy…or at least make sure the Chevy has all the tires!

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About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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