A few years ago, I got a phone call from a friend of mine. He said that he knew a lady that had met with a real estate agent and that she had thrown her out of her house. That’s usually a sign that something is wrong. I asked if he knew what had happened and he said that the real estate agent told her that her house was worth $220,000 and that she’d better sign the paperwork on the spot because the price could go even lower if she waited. Sometimes, you meet sellers that are plain crazy, and other times agents tell potential clients stupid things that can set them off, so I wasn’t sure what was going on.
My friend asked me if I would go meet with her. I asked if she’d signed a listing agreement because you never “go behind the sign” on a listing. She called me the next day, explained that there was no signed paperwork from the other agent (and there never would be) and we set up an appointment for the following day.
When I got to the house, the inside was gorgeous. The details were everything that buyers want today; all the way down to six panel doors and wall colors from the new neutrals. I asked her what had happened and she explained that she paid $290,000 some years back on the house in cash and she just didn’t believe that the agent was right on her estimate. I asked her what she thought might have happened. She said she didn’t know. Because the lady was very pleasant to me and because she explained that she was having some issues related to aging, I told her that I would look around at the comparable sales and get back to her.
The neighborhood was a mix of ranches, atrium ranches, and split level homes. This particular subdivision was in the Lindbergh school district, where the next subdivision over was Fox. That alone could account for a huge difference in prices. As I continued to look around it became clear that the other agent had used terrible comps from a neighborhood where the construction and features weren’t even close to what was in this neighborhood. I don’t suggest malice on the other agent’s part. I think she just missed and had a dominant personality, and that doesn’t go over well with some people. When I went back to the seller and reported on what I saw, it looked quite reasonable to set an asking price of $300,000 on the property.
We listed the house on a Thursday and at the Sunday open house we had two offers. One was for asking and one was just a little bit more. After we sold the home, the realization set in that my seller could have lost more than $80,000 in her retirement years by not getting a second opinion. I don’t know how often this sort of thing happens. It’s far more normal for a seller to come up with a high sales price with no data to back it up. However, as professional real estate agents, we need to be comfortable enough in our work to be able to give the clients the information they need to make a good decision.
This is one of the reason I don’t memorize scripts. I feel it is my job to listen to what the client says and respond accordingly versus just reciting puzzling phrases from time to time to show I’m still awake. When a potential buyer or seller calls you for advice or knowledge, you should never take advantage of that. You should feel so honored someone actually called you that there’s no way you’d let them down. This is what I teach our team at Deerwood Realty.
John Schink is a real estate broker in the St. Louis metropolitan area who specializes in full service listings and buyer agency. He is a member of both the Saint Louis and Jefferson County Boards of Real Estate. If you are looking to buy a home for sale in Saint Louis, Missouri or the surrounding metropolitan area or considering selling your home, or for general real estate related inquiries, he can be reached at 314-707-4821 or firstname.lastname@example.org