I recently came across a flat fee listing from a well known, large flat fee MLS listing brokerage. This company probably has the fanciest looking website out there, and they market their service really well. If only they could market their MLS listings as well. This listing had so many mistakes on it. Now when I say mistakes I do not mean typos or showing 2 bedrooms instead of 4. The mistakes I saw were mistakes in agent friendliness—this listing would quickly convince any buyer agent to not show the property. And it also wasn't the property itself that was repulsive (no pictures with 3 cats on a ratty couch), this listing's pictures weren't great but were sufficient.
This flat fee listing's problems were how the listing was presented: it screamed to agents “Difficult seller!” After 10 seconds looking at the listing the buyer agent would logically conclude:
Scheduling a showing will be difficult,
The seller doesn't know what they are doing (agent translation: this transaction will take twice as much of my time as the typical transaction.),
The listing brokerage won't be of any assistance in the transaction (agent translation: even more time),
The seller doesn't care how real estate transactions are typically done, they take a “my way or the highway” approach (agent translation: not only will this take more time, I will have to handle/manage/negotiate through my buyer's drama and emotions AND the out of control seller), and
Showing this property or investing any time in this property will likely waste lots of time, lots of heartache/drama, and likely not achieve my buyers goal of a home purchase. Not to mention the agent's goal of earning a commission and buyer satisfied by a smooth and professional transaction (agent translation: no client referrals to friends and family from this buyer, hopefully they don't trash my reputation to their network).
Any experienced agent has tried to help a consumer, run into a “difficult seller.” Not only does the agent lose out on the commission, but their buyer client had the awful experience: investing time, money, emotions, and more only to not be successful in the goal of purchasing a home. Just typing about this subject brings back pangs of stress from some heart-wrenching experiences on the front lines of the home buying world.
You can say that every listing a buyer agent looks at fits into one of four categories:
The agent is excited to show this property to the buyer,
The agent is neutral on showing this listing to their buyer client,
The agent doesn't want to show this listing to their buyer—either they don't think the property is a good match, or worse yet their buyer will want to make an offer that will end up being a colossal waste of time, money (time=money especially for a real estate agent), and emotion, or
The agent will simply not show this property. If there buyer insists, they will explain their concerns much like you would explain why you would never hand a cigarette lighter to a 4 year old “nothing good is going to come of this...”
The other company's flat fee MLS listing surely fit in category 4. You might wonder why the listing brokerage didn't catch these mistakes, but I know why: It takes too much time to educate the seller. Many sellers don't want to be educated, so the education can quickly turn into an argument. Some sellers think that they are paying for the listing, they are the customer and the customer is always right. They want it the way they want it, thank you. Educating sellers about how to create an agent friendly listing, one that does NOT repel buyer agents, takes time and some persuasion. No easy task. This is the main reason we created our Listing Grader service, to educate our sellers on how to make their listing motivate buyer agents to show and sell their home. Listing Grader captures the experience of over 18,000 home sellers we have assisted since 1998. This particular flat fee listing didn't have Listing Grader, if they would have, Listing Grader would have shown a F grade (on the A through F scale) and a long list of corrections.
Next post I will write about how a seller can find out if they have a listing that repels buyer agents.