A Tip for Sellers


Here’s a little slice of life. I’ve got some buyer clients who are qualified up to $900,000 looking for a house with minimum 3 bedrooms, one level, good area and not a tear down and, of course, a good deal. We were planning to go look at some places one Saturday recently. All of my clients are plugged into an automatic property search that’s part of my website and they receive listings as they come on the market. This on-line organizer allows them to mark homes they’re interested in or delete those they’re not too hip about. ( It’s not uncommon for a client to delete a real gem and mark as interested a real dump…but that’s what I’m here for…to educate them). Typically clients will express an interest in living “somewhere in the Mid-Peninsula”. It’s actually kind of unusual to hear someone insist on living in only one city, so again, it’s my job to cull down the choices to a selection that the client will like based upon the education they’ve been giving me during our relationship. It’s also common for a client to mark 15 to 20 houses as interested but I discovered a long time ago that once people get past the 5th or 6th house their memory of what they’ve seen blurs a bit and they find it hard to keep track of the many details of the houses they’ve seen. Consequently I almost never show more than 6 houses at a time, there’s a natural, human point of diminishing return if we do…for everybody. It’s important to note that if you’re looking in more than one community there’s always going to be something to see in any given price range at any given time. It does happen that one house stands out way over and above all of it’s competition but it’s much more rare than you might think. My point? If you’re a seller chances are your house is not unique…there’s other houses comparable to yours on the market too.

So here’s what happens in the real world. I try to find a manageable 6 houses out of a stack of maybe 15 listings the client’s expressed interest in. Since I’ve typically previewed these houses I know immediately which represent the best opportunity to meet my clients expectations and that’ll reduce the list right away to 8 to 10 choices. How do I reduce it further you ask? The sellers do it themselves! On Friday afternoon I’ll call these listings to make appointments to show the houses Saturday morning. The first two, simple, no problem. The third goes like this:

Me: Hi, this is Jim Minkey with Re/Max, I just called to see if I can show your house tomorrow morning?

Seller: Who? What?

Me: Jim Minkey with Re/Max…is it OK if I come over tomorrow and show your place?

Seller: Ummmm…No

Me: (confused) Ummm…I can’t?

Seller: No, sorry, we’re busy tomorrow. Why don’t you come over on Sunday afternoon during the open house.

Me: Umm..sorry but my clients have plans on Sunday. They’re meeting me tomorrow.

Seller: Oh, well

Me: Thanks anyway…good luck.

The fourth call is fine and then we have this one: The listing agent is from out of the area. The house doesn’t have a lock-box, has no seller phone number and all showings need to be arranged through the listing agent. So I call him/her in area code 415,510,408 and sometimes 831 or 916 and inevitably leave a message. Do you suppose agent x returns my call? Ah..no. Actually yes they do…at 4:00PM on Sunday afternoon. “Go ahead and show it. There’s a combination lock-box hidden in the meter box on the side of the house” Great, too bad my clients looked at houses yesterday. “You’re exaggerating” you say. I’m serious…this kind of thing happens almost every-time I make appointments to show property.

Here’s the thing..when your house is on the market it’s your product.It has to be exposed to potential purchasers. It’s no different than if you opened a store at the Hillsdale Mall. Imagine Restoration Hardware’s manager saying “Sorry, you can’t come in here on Saturday afternoon, my aunt’s in town from Topeka and we’re busy. Why don’t you come over between 1 and 4 on Sunday afternoon?” Or even better…Restoration Hardware’s manager has to drive over from Fremont to unlock the door but only if you’re lucky enough to catch him on his cell phone to make the appointment well in advance. It’s not a coincidence that these listings tend to sit on the market a long time…and take several price reductions in the process.

No question, it can be a grueling adventure having your home on the market. I’m also well aware that often agents will call, make appointments, and never show up. It’s a pain to have to keep the place in perfect showing condition, especially when the kids are running amok and dinner is burning in the oven but the rewards can be great in doing so. In this market in particular you want as many potential buyers as you possibly can get.


  1. Being a Realtor myself I can sure attest to the truth of this story! This is really great advice and I would love it if some sellers could see this. Thanks for bringing this up.

  2. You are right, that is exactly what happens. Selling houses is serious business but not everyone sees it that way!

  3. I like the post! I’ve had similar responses too. I’ve never quite understood why some sellers make it difficult to sell their home…unless….they don’t want to sell??

  4. Sellers sometimes forget there are 50 sellers to 1 buyer nowadays (my figures) and they need to make sure the house is available for every showing

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