Scott Bayens: Losing a listing, and this one’s on me
I lost a listing last week.
Not a big one, but a rare Carbondale townhouse with a two-car garage, four bedrooms and a gorgeous outdoor patio. I had been in touch with the owner for several months and had been fully engaged with him preparing to list for the better part of two weeks when it all blew up.
It was a shock and left me dumfounded as to what I may have done to have lost his trust and confidence at the last minute. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. But within a day and then later that week, it all began to come into focus, and so did the sobering realization there was more I could have done. Still, it’s never fun choking down that humble pie.
When I first began writing this column, one of my goals was to help bridge the gap between the oft-misunderstood real estate machine and the consumer. The hope was and is to provide transparency to help eliminate the confusion, misconception and the emotion that can rear up in the relationship between broker and seller.
In the end, it takes trust and teamwork to get deals to the closing table. Although a bit embarrassing for me, this situation provides a great case study. So what the hell happened?
The owner called me late last winter to have me tour the home, which I sold him more than a decade ago. He asked for a market update, a CMA, my opinion of value and proposed marketing plan. Enter mistake No. 1.
Other than the information above, I didn’t provide him a formal listing presentation. I wanted to spare him the dog-and-pony show and assumed my knowledge of the market, as well as my confidence and charm, would be sufficient.
From there, we got to work getting the home ready for prime time. There was clutter everywhere. It also needed carpet and paint and a good scrub. To his credit, he took my advice and got it all done. For my part, as almost every contractor in the valley is beyond busy, I managed to secure a painter, a carpet installer and a deep-cleaning service on short notice and at affordable rates. I then scheduled and paid for photography.
Therein lies mistake No. 2, and it’s a doozie. I had yet to secure a listing agreement. As we were making these changes and upgrades, I wanted to be sure the price was commensurate of the product. Shortly after, we did agree on a price and I emailed him a listing contract. He liked the number as it was the same as his birthday.
Mistake No. 3 is an interesting insight on the psychology of exuding confidence in a set asking price and getting to work fighting for it. Because I knew the seller wanted to be out by summer’s end, I suggested an automatic price reduction later in the term if we didn’t get a strong initial response. The idea was to start aggressively but be ready to adjust before losing the rest of the selling season. In the end, the client told me his perception was I didn’t believe in our initial price and I wouldn’t work to convince buyers his asset was worth a premium.
And that’s when I lost him. He fired me via voicemail. But I was never really hired was I? He told me he went with another broker who agreed to list $6,000 higher that we discussed. To add insult to injury, it went under contract almost immediately. Unlike me, the new broker already had a buyer in the wings and is likely sitting on a double commission.
My “client” is not without blame here either. He never voiced his displeasure or concerns. Instead, he took my advice, my data, my experience, my suggestions, and benefited from them before abruptly changing course and eliminating any chance of me getting paid for my efforts.
It’s a good reminder to those considering or in the process of engaging the services of a broker: to communicate, ask questions and remember everything is negotiable. Yes, if you get a bad feeling, bail. But at the same time, not to take advantage of another’s time, resources and financial assistance.
Yup, this one’s on me. Lesson learned. And here’s to never making the same mistakes again.
Scott Bayens is a realtor with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty with 15 years of experience. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-948-2265.
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