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Seller Savvy – Changing Listing Agents Midstream

Your lot didn’t sell…are you tempted to change horses…I mean, listings agents?

It’s the first day of a new month, and real estate agents are circling like vultures. Many listings will expire unsold at the end of each month, and it is not unusual for a seller to receive dozens of letters and calls when their listing expires or is withdrawn. You have your home (condo, vacant lot) for sale for six months or a year. It hasn’t sold. How do you figure out what to do? Is it “just the market?” Would another agent do a better job?

Offering the Hawaii Life advantage to people who wanted to sell their Big Island property, but had not yet accomplished it, was one way I built my listing business. Whether luck, market timing, or the smart marketing/solid representation, over one-third of the listings I successfully sold last year had previously been listed with another agent.

But I haven’t sold all the listings I took. Some of the listings I took over from other agents have now expired and gone to someone else. When that happens, I simply wish the sellers well and provide a “protection list” of prospects who viewed the property during the course of my listing. I still have a better-than-average chance of bringing a buyer for that property, since I know it so well.

Will changing agents give you a better chance of selling your property? My answer is, it depends. Here are some of the questions you should try to answer objectively (and ones you might ask your current agent as well as real estate agents you are interviewing to replace them):

  • What is the state of the real estate market in my area? Have other similar properties sold during the period of my listing? If so, why did those listings sell faster than mine?
  • What did my listing agent do to market my property? Go online and compare your current listing with those of agents you are considering. If you were a buyer, which listings would tempt you to inquire, or ask to see the property?
  • How often was it shown? Was the property available to show when prospective buyers requested showings, and was my agent available to show it?
  • What was the feedback from prospective buyers? Did I receive any offers? Would hiring a new listing agent offer me an opportunity to offset any negative feedback, or get better offers? How?
  • Did I follow my agent’s recommendations about what I would need to do to sell my home within the time frame I desire? Did they make any recommendations (e.g. staging, pricing) that I chose not to follow? Or did they really not offer much advice about how to sell my home?
  • Did my representative uphold their agency duties (fiduciary responsibility, confidentiality, loyalty, obedience)? Did the agent promise to do something and not follow through, or conversely, did they do something they should not have done?

In the current real estate market here in Hawai’i, as in most places, it is a “buyer’s market.” Specifically, at the rate properties are selling in most neighborhoods, it would take more than two years for all of them to sell, if not a single additional owner decided to sell.

However, all real estate is local, and some areas and types of property are in higher demand than others. No real estate agent is a magician, although we often wish we could change the market single-handedly. If you want your property to be the one that sells fast, it will take a partnership between you and your agent.

A few weeks ago, I saw a Dennis the Menace cartoon. Dennis asks Mr. Wilson, “The Doc says you hafta change what you eat. What are ya gonna do?” to which Mr. Wilson replies, “Change doctors.”

There are market elements…and qualities of real estate…over which we have little control as prospective sellers and as real estate agents. You can’t change the location of your lot, or the house built below yours that obstructs part of your view. Aside from those factors, your listing agent is just one of the elements you might need to change in order to get your house sold.

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Katie Minkus, R(BIC)

March 2, 2011

Aloha Beth – great post, as always! I especially like bullets #3 and #5. I have a lot of sellers asking my why there is not more activity on their property for sale and inevitably I say one of three things: 1. I’ve had a lot of requests for showings, but your rental property is always booked. I recommend you offer your guests a nominal amount of monetary rebate or a gift certificate so that I can show it to qualified buyers while the guest is in residence. 2. Your property needs to be “depersonalized.” Remember how I told you when we first discussed listing your property that you need to literally start packing your stuff and moving? and/or 3. Your asking price is too high. No showing requests is direct feedback from the market that buyers think you are unrealistic about your asking price. When you have a lot of showing requests, that’s when you know you’re in the right price “zone.”

Sometimes changing listing agents is the “smart” move. Sometimes sellers just need to take the “solid” advice of their current listing agent.

Katie Minkus, R(BIC)

March 2, 2011

Aloha Beth – great post, as always! I especially like bullets #3 and #5. I have a lot of sellers asking my why there is not more activity on their property for sale and inevitably I say one of three things: 1. I’ve had a lot of requests for showings, but your rental property is always booked. I recommend you offer your guests a nominal amount of monetary rebate or a gift certificate so that I can show it to qualified buyers while the guest is in residence. 2. Your property needs to be “depersonalized.” Remember how I told you when we first discussed listing your property that you need to literally start packing your stuff and moving? and/or 3. Your asking price is too high. No showing requests is direct feedback from the market that buyers think you are unrealistic about your asking price. When you have a lot of showing requests, that’s when you know you’re in the right price “zone.”

Sometimes changing listing agents is the “smart” move. Sometimes sellers just need to take the “solid” advice of their current listing agent.

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)

March 2, 2011

@Katie – people are going to think I put you up to this, as your comment could be a “Coming Attractions” ad for the posts I have lined up for later in the week! Right on target.

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)

March 2, 2011

@Katie – people are going to think I put you up to this, as your comment could be a “Coming Attractions” ad for the posts I have lined up for later in the week! Right on target.

Katie Minkus, R(BIC)

March 2, 2011

Great minds think alike!! 😉 hee. Can’t wait to read ’em!!

Katie Minkus, R(BIC)

March 2, 2011

Great minds think alike!! 😉 hee. Can’t wait to read ’em!!

Seller Savvy – First Impressions Count in Selling Your Home « Hawaii Real Estate Market

March 3, 2011

[…] Minkus pointed out in a comment on my blog post Tuesday that a home that is not de-cluttered and de-personalized is less likely to sell. Two of the […]

Seller Savvy – First Impressions Count in Selling Your Home « Hawaii Real Estate Market

March 3, 2011

[…] Minkus pointed out in a comment on my blog post Tuesday that a home that is not de-cluttered and de-personalized is less likely to sell. Two of the […]

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