OBTAINING & SERVICING SALEABLE LISTINGS
Now that you’ve learned where to prospect for good listings and how to use
proven sales techniques in securing the interest and attention of potential
sellers of property, you’re ready to begin listing homes. In this section
we’ll talk about the steps to be taken in preparing for a professional
listing presentation and emphasize the importance of conditioning owners to
the facts of real estate selling in order to assure results. It is not
enough to list property.
To be profitable for you and beneficial to the sellers these listings must
attract the interest of other salespeople and buyers. You have to produce
marketable listings to keep your seller, your broker, and yourself happy.
There are few things which are more detrimental to this business than the
damage inflicted by careless, non professional real estate sales people who
will take any listing at any price hoping someone will wave a magic wand
and sell the property for them, or take it knowing it will never sell for
that price thinking they will be able to “whittle” the seller down. When
you don’t do your job right, your image and the image of our profession
suffers, not to mention the amount of lost hours.
The existence of real estate markets in which there are a number of FSBO’s,
attempting to solve their own real estate problems can be directly charged
to those brokers and salespeople who violate the basic principles and
professional knowledge needed in listing and selling real property. If the
seller believes he can do a better job than we can, it is because we have
either failed him in the past or have not convinced him we are worth the
price he pays for professional service. Now, off the bandwagon, let’s get
ready for the listing appointment!
We will assume we have obtained through our prospecting efforts an
appointment with Mr. and Mr. Seller. They are buying a new home and need
to sell their present home in order to qualify and buy the new one. You
have made the appointment for 7:00 this evening. This allows them time to
have their evening meal and get relaxed after their day’s work. This also
allows you several hours to gather facts about the property, which should
include a pre- inspection trip to the property, and doing your comparative
market analysis (CMA).
You know that it is very important to have the sellers together when you
make your sales presentation. They both own the property, it takes their
mutual consent and you must win both of them over. Husband and wife must
agree on price, terms, occupancy, and other vital matters affecting this
You have set aside three hours this afternoon to make your first inspection
and to gather the facts needed for your presentation this evening. The
nice thing about using the two visit approach is to give yourself an
opportunity to inspect the property in an unhurried way and to gather the
facts about the parcel so you can return to the privacy of your office and
digest what you have uncovered before reaching any conclusions.
The second important reason is that you want the seller to realize you are
a professional and that your decisions are based on sound facts, not snap
judgments. I realize that it is possible for you to know property values
reasonably well. You may be able to walk in the front door of a home and
quickly decide the approximate price range. However, the seller can’t
appreciate such hasty reactions and since your prime task is to win the
confidence of the seller, so he will accept your recommendations concerning
price, terms and the other important matters pertaining to your listing
service, you need to establish a foundation of trust on which your
relationship with the seller can be soundly constructed.
There will be some situations when you must take the listing on a single
call, and on these occasions you will have to consolidate the steps we are
covering in this section to accomplish your objectives. Do what works best
for you and the seller, just be sure to be thorough and do it right. If
you are going to do one step listings make sure you allow two to three
hours to do a complete listing. You want to be sure it is priced right and
that you have spent sufficient time to develop the good client
relationships needed for later negotiation and follow up contact. Even
more important is the ultimate objective of every professional salesman to
build a solid referral business for future success. This can only be done
if proper time and attention is taken at the beginning of business
PREPARATION BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE OFFICE
We have available in our offices a complete seller’s packet. Be sure you
are familiar with the entire packet, it includes:
Real estate brokerage relationships brochure
Benefits of listing with your company name.
Exclusive right to sell listing agreement.
Information needed to run CMA
Home warranty plan brochures if your office offers one.
Property inspection guidelines for buyers and sellers
Seller’s property disclosure statement (to be completed by seller)
Lead based paint disclosure
Residential data form for MLS or your listing book.
Estimated net to seller (should be completed at time of listing)
Sample contract for purchase and sale of real estate
Open house ad copy, real estate book ad form, and photo ad form
Loan evaluation brochures & forms for water well & on-site waste disposal systems
Information sheet on services we can offer when they are relocating to another area.
Start by getting one of these packets. Fill out the information needed to
run CMA form. This will cover the properties comparable to this one that
are available, sold, pending, expired or withdrawn. What you need to do is
be sure you can compile a fairly accurate picture of the market situation
in the neighborhood surrounding the residence you are going to list. This
is one of the most important pieces of information you need to have with
you. You must be able to price the home right.
When you are talking to sellers remember sellers understand competition,
like other homes for sale that are in competition with theirs for buyers.
They may not understand comparables. Nothing is really comparable to my
property. I have certain amenities my neighbors’ homes do not possess. I
do realize there are only so many buyers for the total number of homes on
the market in my neighborhood and that some of them will sell while others
This is important to get them to acknowledge this so that they will let you
price their home competitively. Don’t go in and try to tell the seller
this information without a presentation folder ready for them. When you
produce printed and written facts and present them in a confident and
authoritative fashion, you remove the doubts of whether or not you are a
professional. You then open paths to a successful understanding with the
After having all the paper work in order, you should inspect the
neighborhood surrounding your proposed listing. Remember that there is a
great deal of importance in neighborhood influence on real estate values.
The only thing permanent in real estate in change. Every piece of property
is affected by the conditions in the area in which it is located, as well
as by the immediate influence of adjacent parcels. When you sell a
property you are not selling just a single piece of property, but rather a
neighborhood, an environment, and a way of life. Prospective buyers will
be observing the homes, lawns, yards, and people who live in the area where
you propose to place them. You then must also be aware of these factors
when you list the property.
So while you check out the area check out the following:
New for sale signs that you were not aware of before. Make sure you
write down addresses and phone numbers so you can call when you get back to
the office. Or check MLS if you have it available to you.
The exterior appearance and condition of the properties listed on your
CMA, note observations about the relative differences involved. Pay
special attention to those that are currently on the market, they are your
sellers competition. When possible preview these listings as well.
Observe the condition of the neighborhood as to maintenance, pride of
ownership, and general appearance. Are there any freeway constructions
nearby, deteriorated properties, vacant homes, etc.?
If there are new subdivisions in the near vicinity, check these out and
note price ranges, values, and terms, as this will also affect the resale
While determining a value for your new listing, be aware of the
depreciation factors. Not only physical deterioration but functional
obsolescence as well as economic obsolescence. We are now at the home, for
the first visit. When you arrive make sure you are on time. Nothing is
more aggravating to a seller than the frustration of waiting for a real
estate salesperson past their appointment time. They may have other plans,
and the relationship you want to create may go right out the window before
you even arrive if you do not exercise common courtesy about keeping
appointments. If you MUST be late, for any reason, you should call and
advise the owner about the delay. Being punctual is part of being
As you approach the front door, notice the lawns, are they neatly edged and
trimmed, and does the home have gutters. Check the windowsills, hardware
on the front door, door mats all exterior items the buyers will notice when
they first approach the home. Part of your job is to advise the seller
about these items.
When the owner answers the door, be sure to be cordial and introduce
yourself, explain this is the first visit and is to obtain the basic facts
about the home so you can review intelligently the findings before you
return for their appointment this evening. At this point ask the seller if
she will please locate the following documents pertaining to the property.
Explain that you would like to take them to your office and make copies for
the file, and that you will return them when you come for your appointment
later this evening.
The deed or other documents establishing ownership and legal description.
The payment books for any mortgages on the property
Their title insurance policy from when they bought the property
Their homeowner’s policy
The real estate tax statements
Any other papers they may possess which affect the status of title
While the owner is gathering these items, you may begin by doing a complete
walk around the exterior of the house. Make notes, don’t try to remember.
Return to the interior and ask if the owner would mind if you look through
the rest of the house. As you tour the home, do the following things:
Measure the rooms.
Check closet sizes making a note.
Check the bathrooms, again noting condition and size.
Observe the condition of paint, trim, color, and neatness of home; they might affect the buyer.
Study the decor and furnishings of the home and their effect on marketability.
List the personal property items to be included by the owner in the price.
Study the floor plan and relate its acceptability to similar priced homes in the area.
In general, note all items that detract from value as well as those that add to value.
You may make subtle comments about the amenities of the new home they are
buying to condition them for a reasonable sales price on the present home.
Some of the questions you might ask during the initial interview would be:
Questions to determine urgency
When will your new home be ready for occupancy?
When would you like to make the move?
If we found a buyer immediately, how soon could you give possession?
Questions to determine experience:
Have you owned other homes besides this one?
Do you own other real estate?
Before you decided to use our services, did you think about selling the home
How long have you lived here?
Questions to arrive at an owner’s idea of value:
What improvements have you made since acquiring the home?
Have you ever had your home appraised?
What features are you looking for in your next home that this one doesn’t have?
How much insurance do you carry on the home?
Questions to uncover new business in area:
Do your neighbors know that you are planning to sell?
I imagine you will be leaving behind a number of friends after living
here for __ years, right?
Do you know of others nearby who may be marketing their homes?
Have any of your friends expressed interest in your home?
Questions to uncover neighborhood benefits:
Is this a quiet neighborhood?
Who lives in the lovely home next door?
Are there many children in the block?
What school do your children attend?
Do you attend a church nearby? Who is your pastor?
Many of these questions may not need asking if you already know the
answers, but this general line of inquiry should be pursued in order to
uncover the seller’s personal reactions to these questions. You are
looking for the motivations of this seller as well as reasons why new
buyers might be interested in purchasing the home. After asking a
question, be quiet. LISTEN!
Master salespeople know the importance of asking the right question and
listening carefully for the full response to that question. Sometimes it
is what the client or customer does not say that provides the clue to
motivations and facts about the proposed move. There is one more question
I would always recommend asking. “Do you have any prospects from your own
contacts who might be interested in purchasing your home?”
This question can be very important. Many times a seller has a buyer who
expressed an interest in the property but the seller was unable to close a
sale without professional help. Some of these friends, relatives, or
prospects may need professional service to locate other property. Always
pursue any line of questioning which can lead to additional business since
prospecting is a continual objective of the alert real estate salesperson.
KEEP YOUR OBJECTIVES IN MIND
By now you may be concluding that this is a lot of trouble to get just one
listing! It may be, but every bit of effort expended at this time will
generally save you time and money later. If there is any short cut to a
sale, it is in doing a good competent and professional job when first
listing the property. It is essential to remember that you are doing more
than just listing a piece of real estate! You are also listing the people
who own that real property. Every question and answer helps you lay the
foundation for the closing session a few days or weeks from now when you
must sit with these owners and review an offer to purchase from a
prospective buyer. If you have really absorbed the facts, uncovered the
motivations, and won the confidence of your owners you will find closing
the sale much easier. Learn to be thorough and persistent in your real
estate selling. Make sure you look the house over real thoroughly, sellers
want you to demonstrate sincere and complete interest in their properties
before they entrust them to you. Remember they are going to be asked to
pay a sizable fee for your services, likely the largest single fee they
will ever expend for any service ordered. They want their money’s worth.
From the information you have gathered you should be able to answer the
Date the home was originally purchased by the owners. This can usually
be found on the deed or title policy.
The approximate amount paid for the home by the sellers. Again this may
be found on the title policy or other papers they let you view.
The legal description of the property. This is always on the deed, and
should also be on the title policy.
The mortgage indebtedness of the owners. This is vital information and
should be carefully pinpointed. You need to know what kind of loan the
lender name, loan number, if there is a prepayment penalty, etc.
A WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT PRICE
Most sellers want to know immediately about the price you believe would be
asked for their home. This is, many times, before you have even finished
gathering the information and analyzing the facts. Don’t commit yourself
even in general terms on this subject until you can present your story
completely and at the right time. It can be fatal to your listing
presentation to state your opinion before you have completed your data
finding and laid the necessary groundwork to substantiate your viewpoint.
Remember that we want to be perceived as professional.
It is most definitely beneficial to know what the sellers are thinking in
terms of price, as this can be a stumbling block to later negotiations. No
one likes to back down after he has taken a firm position, and sellers are
tempted to support unrealistic prices they have quoted simply to justify
their own egos and pride. You can determine possible price ranges
acceptable to the seller by comparing original purchase price with time
periods involved and the balance of present mortgages, as well as by the
seller’s reactions to your questions. It is best to avoid direct questions
on this subject until you have made your full listing presentation to both
owners’. Remember that you are working for the seller, you want to get him
the best possible price!
Now, go back to the office and compile information. You should now be able
to come up with a fair market value of the property. You should know how
soon the sellers need to sell. You can do a closing cost estimate for the
seller showing them what they will net from the sale at the suggested
Be sure and explain the different types of mortgages that will be best for
the sale of their property, and what the differences in cost in both money
and time to them will be. Be prepared to explain to the sellers demand and
availability of similar type properties has to come into play when
determining a price. Buyers are also going to look at the loans offered on
other properties in the area. There is no magic in pricing real estate.
The actual price realized for any given property is what the buyer is
willing to pay. To some buyers the same property will have a higher value
than to others. One man’s castle can be another man’s white elephant!
There is always the fluctuation of individual opinion and no real estate
salesperson can be expected to be so exact in his pricing that he can
pinpoint the market every time he lists property. In fact, don’t overlook
the emotional factors that influence buyers, as they do play a major part
in home selling. The tall trees in the back yard, an oriental garden, an
incomparable view are difficult amenities to price!
You need to caution the seller that what we are looking for is the
average buyer. To locate the unusual buyer who will pay more than anyone
else can be expensive, time consuming, and difficult, sometimes impossible.
Also explain to the seller that you have evaluated the marketability of
their property by determining the following:
The price and terms offered in contrast to other comparable properties
The urgency of the seller
The demand for this type of property
The competition of similar properties
If you have all four of these variables, you have a “hot listing”. If you
have only one, it had best be the “right price and terms.” If there is
nothing else to motivate a sale, this is generally the only available
One more item about price! It is always best to price a listing right with
good terms from the beginning. It most certainly increases the chances of
selling the listing and of serving the best interests of the seller.
However, do not turn down a good listing just because the price is not
exactly where you would want it to be! It is possible to sell over priced
listings, providing you are willing to expend the extra effort to condition
and negotiate the properties. If a listing has any two of the four items
above, it is probably well worth taking and working to bring into line
before sold. Especially when the urgency of the seller is one of the
factors involved, since this acts as a lever on price as the impending time
period calls for action.
Again, every effort should be made from the beginning to establish the best
price and terms for your listing. But if you fail to do so, weigh the
other factors before you reject the listing. If the seller is not
motivated, has no urgency and is unrealistic about his price, it is wise to
forego the listing rather than waste time, money, and energy trying to sell
On the other hand, if there is a reason to sell and a demand for the type
of property offered, it is often well worth the extra effort to condition
the seller during the listing period rather than reject the opportunity to
serve the client and lose the resulting commission. Just remember that any
over-priced listing is expensive to handle and carries with it a higher
risk of expiring unsold, so you should make every effort to do the job
right. Some agents will list a property at a slightly higher price but
tell the seller right then that they want to get with them in 30 days to
analyze the progress and make a price adjustment if need be. Make sure you
constantly advise the seller of comments from other agents that have shown
the property. Many times, this will help bring the seller in line with a
THE LISTING PRESENTATION
The time has arrived. It’s 7:00 and you’re at the seller’s home. Take
time to visit with both husband and wife. Gain their friendship and
goodwill before you present your story. Talk about his job, hobbies, where
they are moving, the children, and compliment them! Use some basic human
After your brief introductory exchange, tell them you would like to sit at
the kitchen table where there is good light and where you have room to
spread out your papers. Psychologically, it is helpful to be physically
close to your clients in the closing stage of any transaction. When
selecting a seat, try to locate yourself opposite both the husband and wife
where you can control the interview and watch their expressions. If you
sit between them, you will soon feel like an observer at a ball game,
turning your head first one way and the then the other. Always start your
listing presentation by making some complimentary observations about the
A good idea is to sandwich any criticism between compliments. Explain to
the seller’s that you are not actually critical of the property, it is just
part of your job to point out things that need attention, and wouldn’t they
rather you did everything possible to make their home the most attractive
to prospective buyers. Do comment on the good points of the home,
housekeeping, landscaping, paint, etc.
Now you should be sure and sell your company. and yourself. First thing
you should do if you haven’t already is present the Real Estate Brokerage
Relationships Brochure to them. Explain that you will list their property
as a designated seller’s agent. That you will be their agent. They should
be very up front with you and you will be with them. That your job is to
help them. Go over the entire CMA packet. Go over The Preparing Your Home
For Showing page; talk to them about your marketing plan; talk to them
about the market analysis. Explain that some of the properties sold, some
failed to sell, and some are still for sale in the area. Go over each one
and give them all the information you have about it. Note which ones are
larger, with more bedrooms, etc. and what kind of a price adjustment you
have made for that difference. About this time the sellers may interject,
look at the time and effort that went into the landscaping, building the
patio, and planting the expensive flowers in the yard. Certainly these
must add value to our home.
You might reply, yes Mr. and Mrs. Seller, these items do ad to the value of
the home and help you to compete more favorable with other properties, but
they do not always add substantially to the actual price of the home.
Explain that many times something that makes a home look better or makes it
more appealing is not worth a lot more in the price of the property, but,
it can be worth a lot in the time it will save finding a buyer.
After you have determined a price. Explain the net to seller page. Tell
them this is only an estimate. You will provide them with another one at
the time of an offer, and they will get an exact one to look over prior to
closing. While you are completing the listing agreement, ask them to fill
out the seller’s property disclosure statement. Explain that it is
beneficial for them and you as well, for them to fill this out, and why.
Go over our commitment to you page! Make sure you talk to them about
different mortgage programs and how they will benefit from them. Tell them
about the tour of Realtors and that you would like to schedule it so all
the other agents in your office can tour the home. Prepare them for the
selling process. Ask if there are particular times when they prefer the
property not be shown. How much notice do they need? Tell them that the
job has just begun. They must know what to expect so they can assist you
in the weeks ahead until a sale is consummated. Go over the things that
The repairs and improvements needed to assure a proper sale, if you have
made any recommendations. Be very honest, if you notice things that need
attention. This is your job!
The FOR SALE sign will go up; you need a key for the lock box. Explain
what the lock box is and how it works.
Enlist their help in having the property ready to show. Turn the lights
on, turn soft music on low, put the pets outside, make sure the kitchen and
bathrooms are especially clean and neat.
Please Mr. and Mrs. Seller leave the house when it is being shown! Many
times, buyers are hesitant to enter someone else’s home, and even more
afraid to speak up in the presence of the owners. Also, you don’t want to
be put at a disadvantage. That’s what you hired me for!
Talk about what will happen from the time of contract on. Make sure
they understand that they will get their money after all the closing papers
have been signed at the title company and the sale is finalized. Assure
them you will be at closing with them.
Go over the listing worksheet of MLS input sheet with them to make sure
you haven’t missed anything.
Each time you get them to commit an answer to one of your questions you are
closer to getting them to commit to listing the property with you.
Explain, explain, and explain. Take the time necessary so they don’t feel
rushed. They are your only concern.
Show them the listing contract. Ask for their signatures and initials in
the appropriate places. Assure them you are going to work hard to get
their property sold. After all, you don’t get paid for your effort until
you bring them a ready willing and able buyer.
Gain their trust, and you will get the listing. Now, go to work. Take the
listing package back to the office and make sure everything is right.
After it has been entered into MLS check the print out carefully and make
sure the information is all there and correct. You will find a list in
your office. Go over it item-by-item and make sure you do your job
completly. The better you do now, the less there will be to do later.
Don’t forget to send the seller a “Thank You”! Keep in touch. Don’t
A good listing worth taking requires effort and deserves attention.
Sellers are the key to the real estate business and as a real estate
salesperson, who wants to grow in this industry, you should concentrate
your efforts on solving the problems of sellers. You will seldom spend
more profitable time than that which you invest with sellers. Remember,
when you accept a listing you accept a responsibility on the owner’s behalf
and failure to realize the obligations of such assignments will lead to
many painful problems and lost commissions. You have gained the respect of
the sellers, protect it. Be proud of your craft as a real estate
counselor. You are a specialist just like a doctor, attorney, or any other
You should never resort to dishonesty or untruthfulness in order to render
assistance to property owners. There is never an excuse for falsehoods or
insincerity when you are performing genuine service to people.