The real estate sales game is full of failure.  It’s kind of like baseball, where you used to be considered a pretty good player if your batting average was .300 .  You aren’t going to list every house where there is an opportunity.  Losing the opportunity to list a house for sale can really mess with you a lot of different ways.  There’s certainly an economic loss, and there is also a disappointment in not getting the listing.  Here’s the story of a listing I just lost.

The First Call

One Saturday afternoon I get a call.  The first question is, “How much is your commission?”  That’s usually not the best way to start a call.  After all, there are plenty of low cost-low value real estate brokerages that will list your house for cheap.  Last I checked, the lowest was something like $500.00 and you do all the work.  I told the caller that I had no idea because I haven’t seen the house and I don’t know the situation.  We talked about that for a while and he said, “I don’t want to go around looking for Realtors, so I think you will work out fine.  When can you meet me at the house?”

Opportunity Delayed

We set a date and time to meet at the home.  The seller didn’t live at the house, which was kind of near the Bevo area in South City.  He was renting it out.  We were supposed to meet two weeks after the initial phone call, but then the tenant didn’t move out, so there was two more weeks.  I got a call from the seller that we should just go over there with the tenant in the home so he could get started with getting the home ready for sale.  In the interim, the seller called and asked if I knew of a good eviction attorney.  I gave him the name of a real estate attorney I’d used in the past.

Our Listing Appointment

When I arrived at the house, the tenant was still living there.  It was now about 3 weeks past the move out date, but the seller and tenant had some to some sort of agreement where they would move out.  The minute I walked in the house, I knew it was going to be tough to sell.  The seller did want to know what I thought the house would bring.  I asked what the particular game was that we were playing.  If we were playing “buy the listing”, I wasn’t interested.  The seller said that they were just interested in getting what I would list the house for.

It Depends On What You Do With The House

Coming up with an accurate listing price is virtually impossible if you’ve never been inside the house.  That pricing always changes too based on more recent home sales.  If someone asked me what I house will sell for next week, I can get that number with a high degree of accuracy.  If someone asks me what a home will sell for 6 months later, that’s not going to go so well.  If I could know those sorts of things, I’d be a billionaire.

As we walked through the house, there were going to be some issues that needed to be addressed.  The stove was from 1975 and was full of grease and it was not going to get better with a deep clean.  The carpeting in the whole house was deeply stained.  There were many instances of plaster that had been neglected and were literally falling off of the wall.  I explained to the seller that if they did all of these things, the house should come to market at $80,000.  If they didn’t do those things, they could still sell the home, but it would have to be priced much lower, somewhere around $65,000.

Signing The Listing Paperwork

At that point, the seller asked me if I wanted to sign the listing paperwork.  Because we were weeks from actually listing the property, I told them that it wouldn’t be necessary at this time.  I explained that we seemed to work well together, and when the time came to actually list the property, we could do the paperwork then.  Some real estate agents reading this will be pointing to this moment as the one that lost me the listing.  I get it.  However, look at the track record of the seller.  We made initial contact two months before I ever got to the house, when it was supposed to be two weeks.  Also, even though I gave recommendations for repairs or upgrades, not all sellers follow through.  If you take a listing at one number based on a bunch of work that never gets done, it usually leads to awful results.

Keep In Touch

Over the weeks and months that followed, I would send this seller additional listings that had gone up for sale in the neighborhood.  I showed the seller where there were opportunities, what other houses had that theirs didn’t, etc.  The seller would thank me and give me updates on the progress, or lack thereof.  At Deerwood Realty, we don’t like to pressure people or badger them by calling them every week, every month, etc.  We feel like when the seller wants to sell, they will give us a call.

House Is Listed For Sale

As a real estate broker in St. Louis, I look at pretty much every new and sold listing every day.  Imagine my shock when I saw the house listed with someone else!  For $25,000 more than my recommendation!  With less than half of the work done!  Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens from time to time in our business.  Sometimes, your buyer will ghost you, but on the listing side, the first time you find out the seller went with someone else is usually when you actually see it listed.  There’s never a courtesy call.  Actually, some sellers tell the listing agent to call the other agents, but even that’s rare.

What Happened?

And here is another pleasant reality.  Because the house is now listed exclusively with another real estate agent, it’s not like you can call the seller and ask what you did wrong!  Some might construe that as “going behind the sign.” That’s a big no-no.  I’ve often wondered, even if I did call, would the seller REALLY tell me why they chose someone else?  I doubt it.  Here’s what we know.

  1. The house is priced way too high to sell. In these lower price ranges, 500.00 increments are big.  Setting a price that is $20,000 more than a comparable home isn’t going to sell it.  We’re on day 45 right now of the house being up for sale, and a house that is larger and down the street in better condition just went under contract at $65,000.


  1. There was something that changed the seller’s mind. I don’t know why I didn’t get that listing.  It could be me, it could be something someone else said, or it could be what someone else did that I didn’t do.  While it’s great to speculate on what happened, that isn’t going to pay the bills.  I lost the listing.  That is a known.


  1. The best possible scenario is to move on. It’s really not that easy to move on after a real estate disappointment.  However, this listing is gone.  It’s not coming back.  The seller isn’t going to say, “Hey, I totally messed up and you were right and I should have listed it with you at the right price.”  If you ruminate on failure, you will fail.  It’s that simple.  Be thankful that you aren’t working with an unrealistic seller.

The hours spent on this seller are going to go uncompensated.  There’s always been this weird disconnect between what real estate agents are thought to do versus what real estate agents actually do.  Not all houses are perfect.  Not all buyers are joys to be around.  It can be downright annoying scheduling showing appointments.  And, there are a ton of disappointments.  Losing an opportunity to list a house for sale isn’t fun, but there will always be opportunities to list others.