Seller Un-sells House

As I mentioned in a previous post, I showed quite a few houses yesterday. Most were vacant, but one was being sold directly by the owner – a FSBO (For Sale By Owner).

It was a lovely house, easily the best of the 7 we visited. No lockbox, so the elderly owner had to let us in. Since there were 5 of us, he immediately had a little trouble keeping up with us and he definitely wanted to “herd” us. He talked non-stop about all the great features of the house – most of which we could see easily and didn’t need him to point them out.

The buyers escaped out the basement door and I walked upstairs with him. As I was thanking him for showing us the house, he blurted, “The price isn’t fixed in stone, you know. We’ll negotiate!”

The buyers liked the house up to a point and that point didn’t include making any offers, negotiable or otherwise. It just didn’t fit their needs, though they agreed it came closer than anything else we saw.

Today the owner’s wife called me looking for feedback. After I explained that it wasn’t what the buyers were looking for, she launched into a sales pitch that would have been impressive, had I been listening. But I really just wanted to get off the phone and back to the market analysis I was working on. She spent 10 minutes telling me about things I already knew, like the shopping in the neighborhood and what a great location it was, and how it backed to woods and was quiet. I’d just been there – I knew all these things. She repeated that they were flexible on price and added that they already had another house, so could move out fast.

I know these owners feel nobody can sell their house as well as they can -after all, who knows it better than they do? But that’s the problem. You can’t sell a house. A buyer has to want to buy it. The best sales pitch in the world can’t make a buyer buy a house he doesn’t want.

These sellers obviously felt that if they just kept talking, if they could just mention that one thing that would catch the buyers’ attention, the deal would be sealed. The reality is that the seller talked so much that the buyers never had a moment to reflect on what it would feel like if this were their home. They were reminded constantly that they were in someone else’s home.

Buyers usually need a little space and quiet to do a little “mental moving-in” – placing furniture, changing colors. This very lovely gentleman, the seller, literally ran them out of the house with his sales pitch. They couldn’t wait to leave.

The process of looking at a house is a little like a dance. In this instance, both the seller and the buyer wanted to lead, which is awkward because the buyer doesn’t want to dance with the seller, he wants to dance with the house itself.

© 2011 Susan Pruden. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to Seller Un-sells House

  1. MDSuburbs says:

    This post is on the verge of poetic. =)

    Again, right on the money. The big challenge with FSBOs is that the O really thinks they need to sell their house like a car salesman sells a car. It's got this. It's got that. Let's Make A Deal.

    Homes sales ain't like tat. I had a client once that told me that this house or that house didn't "sing" to him. Well, that what it took. A house that "just feels right" regardless of the shopping or great lawn or whatever. I am constantly surprised by what home buyers focus in on as "the thing" that makes a house special.

    It sounds like the O in this case could have used his "negotiation" room to hire a professional Realtor so they could get to settlement and move to their next home.

  2. Poetic, huh?

    I suspect that in this case, the owner has little else to do with his time. And I agree about hiring a professional to sell the house…’cause it will take a buyer who can tune out the seller to buy this house.

    By the way, welcome home.

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