Most Home Sellers Interview Only One Prospective Agent

Wouldn’t you think that sensible home sellers would cast a wide net before selecting the agent who will help them market and sell their home — and to whom they will ultimately pay around 5-6% of the selling price, as a sales commission? (That’s $18,000 for a $300,000 home, folks — some people will be lucky to be paid that amount for an entire year’s work.)

And yet, two thirds of sellers interview only one candidate for the job, as reported by the National Association of Realtors and discussed by Patricia Mertz Esswein in the May 2012 edition of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. (See “How to Sell Your Home Fast.”)

Maybe some of these sellers so loved the agent who helped them buy their home that they couldn’t imagine hiring anyone else to sell it.  (That was the case with me, and it all worked out great.) But I bet it’s not true for a sizable number of home sellers. They meet an agent, they like what they hear, and that’s it — for better or for worse.

That gives the first agent a seller interviews a huge advantage; and unfortunately, an incentive to overstate buyers’ likely interest levels and the price you’re likely to obtain for the house. Setting the price too high is a problem in any market, but it’s fatal in the current depressed market, where buyers have learned to be leery of inflexible, unreasonable sellers who simply can’t believe their house has dropped so far in value over the last five years.

As Mertz Esswein notes, “In addition to a history of successful sales in or around your neighborhood, you want total honesty — even if it’s painful to hear that you must spend money in order to sell.”