I was talking to a friend of a friend the other day about a listing that she didn’t get.  Unfortunately, for the most part, you never quite know why you didn’t get a listing until you see it listed by someone else.  This was a little different because they had stayed friends during the process. There were three main home seller surprises during the sale process.  The house is currently still on the market.

Home Seller Surprise #1

The first home seller surprise was that the other agent basically bought the listing.  The other real estate agent came in at $50,000 higher than where my friend wanted to be.  Why would that be a home seller surprise?  Because the seller really doesn’t know any better.  If you get 5 real estate agents in a room and ask them what they would list a house for, I suspect you would get 6 different numbers!  One of the real estate agents will ask what another agent said and then raise their number.

Buying the listing is unethical, but quite effective because it is a play on human emotions.  When someone tells you that they can get $50,000 more than the next person for the same product, there’s a natural pull there.  For one, there’s the chance at more money with no additional work, but there’s a second emotion.  Home seller pride.  Everyone believes something they own is naturally better than someone else purely because they own it.

Home Seller Surprise #2

The home seller surprise during the sale process was that the listing agent didn’t attend the open house.  They had some random agent do it from the office.  There are arguments to be made on both sides over whether an open house really works to sell homes.  What isn’t up for debate is that most home sellers don’t have a clue about selling their home and therefore don’t bother to ask real estate agents during listing appointments who they will actually be working with.  Home sellers tend to write their own narrative during the sales process.  As an example, in this case, the home seller never asked the potential listing agents who would hold the open house, and just assumed that the listing agent would be the one to do so.

The seller went with a large real estate team.  Those teams work to find efficiencies for the team leader.  One of those “efficiencies” is usually related to getting the listing agent away from having to work on nights and weekends.  With open houses usually being held on Sundays in St. Louis, if it’s a large team, you probably aren’t going to see the listing agent attend or hold the open house.   That’s lower member team work.  After all, they did the hard work, they sold the seller on getting the house listed with the team.  The home seller had no idea how it works in real life.  They just assumed the listing agent would take care of it.

Home Seller Surprise #3

Our home seller was selling a relative’s home.  It was in a really expensive part of town.  While the seller knew my friend well, she got a referral from the family probate lawyer.  A referral is a very powerful thing in real estate sales.  When your lawyer gives you a referral over using someone you know and trust, you should probably ask yourself something.  What is the relationship between one of the bigger real estate teams and the probate attorney?  Is there genuine expertise being given or is there another sort of relationship not disclosed?

In this case, the surprise has everything to do with the quality of service on the larger team.  The home seller was surprised that the house was listed just like any other house.  There was nothing special about the probate lawyer’s referral.  The real estate team didn’t possess some great knowledge or skill related to the sale of homes in family trusts or that go through the probate process.

Home Seller Surprise #4

Our last home seller surprise is that so far, as the home is still languishing for sale, the level of real estate team follow up has been extremely poor.  There was no call by the listing agent to inform the seller about the open house attendance.  There was no call by the listing agent to inform the seller about new homes to the market or that have sold in the time that the house has been listed for sale.  This is one annoyance I have and something we’ve put into place at Deerwood Realty.  When your house is listed with us, you get communication every Friday about the house.  Even if it is an email that says not one thing has happened since last week, you do get notified.  This is something that I learned years ago when dealing with my own terrible real estate agents.  Home sellers want communication while the house is listed for sale.

How To Avoid Home Seller Surprises

There are probably lists a mile long about how disappointed homes sellers become during the sale process.  I’ve come to believe that some sellers have such an optimistic view of their home, the current market, etc, that logic has long flown from the picture.  In a hot market especially, home sellers ask a premium, and if the real estate agent doesn’t deliver, it’s on the real estate agent.

This follows with our home seller.  They believed their house was worth $50,000 more and they believed that their lawyer knew of a real estate team that could bring some additional level of expertise which has shown not to be the case.  Even with these surprises, no home seller will admit to getting snookered.  As long as the house sells, the home seller will probably leave a great review.

Here are some questions you should ask your real estate agent during a listing appointment.

  1. Who is handling this sale? Is the listing agent taking the sale from start to finish?  If not, there better be an understood line of communication before agreeing to list the home for sale.


  1. Who is my contact person? Is it the listing agent or is it someone else?  Ask yourself this, you signed a listing agreement with a person.  They have a name.  Isn’t it odd that you would never hear from them throughout the process to sell your home again?


  1. Will you personally attend all inspections, open houses, and home showings? If the answer is no, find out who will be attending these things.

There could be perfectly good answers to the above three questions.  There could also be complete lies.  For example, I make it a point to attend all inspections, open houses, and home showings.  However, sometimes there is a conflict and another agent will help me.  I make this known to my sellers.  All contact goes through me.  There’s no “closing coordinators”, “assistants”, “associates”, or “team members” interfering with our lines of communication. If you hear these terms, be cautious:  You’ve probably gotten yourself signed up with a real estate team that you won’t be happy with.  There are going to be home seller surprises during the sale process.  Make sure you do your part to keep the surprises to a minimum.