From Listed to SOLD - How to Sell Those Listings You Work So Hard to Get!


Preview Ten Listings Today and Report Back

Got this idea from Herb Hamilton's featured post today "Doom or Gloom or Huge Success."drive

Active Rainers - let's have some fun. In the next 48 hours, go out and preview ten listings in your area. Any ten you want. Make it easy on yourself and preview the ten homes closest to your home. It'll take you an hour or two.

Then report back. Of those ten properties, how many are being competently marketed? How many are not?

To my way of thinking, here's what "competently marketed" means:

  • The home is easy to show (yes, even on Sunday)*
  • The sellers know to be gone for the showing*
  • The home is clean, tidy and smells good*
  • It is, of course, priced well
  • If there's a brochure box, it's full
  • The MLS description is enticing and intriguing, not to mention accurate
  • The MLS listing includes great photos
  • There are no barking dogs locked up in the laundry room*
  • There is no lingering odor of Football Game Chili in the air*
  • The lockbox and key work smoothly*

*If you're saying that these are seller responsibilities and beyond your control, you're wrong! It's our job to make sure our sellers know THEIR jobs as partners in the home-selling process.

See, here's the thing. Our job, as real estate agents, is not to prospect prospect prospect until our fingers go numb. The reason we have a license for what we do is because we provide an important service to those people who honor us with their business. We owe it to our sellers to give their listings our full attention and commitment ... instead of fitting in our home-selling activities around our prospecting efforts.

I'll betcha that out of the ten listings you preview, very very few will meet my standard of competent marketing. I'll betcha most will fail miserably. I'll bet it will be clear to you which homes are marketed by someone who gives a damn about selling their listings... and which ones are marketed by someone who has better things to do.

Imagine if we all cared about selling our listings. I mean, really really cared. Imagine if we all had the guts to tell our sellers what's what and why. And how. If we all spent just one hour a day making sure our listings are being properly marketed and presented to the market.

We could turn this mess around.

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007 




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The More Fun You Have Selling Real Estate, the More Real Estate You Will Sell! 
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Comment balloon 45 commentsJennifer Allan-Hagedorn • November 05 2007 12:13AM


Thank you Jennifer, I accept the challenge and I'll report back my findings.  You're right, it's our responsibility to help our sellers home more marketable and sell. 

Posted by Wayne Miller almost 13 years ago

I can honestly say "I don't care what the listing agent does".  I, as a buyers agent, can overcome all of the barriers to sale. 

I'm a buyers agent and I'll make my own opportunities.  If the listing agent isn't doing their job, that gives me an edge because I can overcome all of the barriers that would send a lot of buyers agents away.

I look for good houses for my buyers, not houses that are easy to show or sell. 

Nice post.  However, I believe that we make our own opportunities.  Relying on the listing agent to make things nice or easy, isn't reliable.  Too many untrained, inexperienced listing agents out there. 

A poorly managed listing just might be opportunity time for my buyer.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 13 years ago

hi Jennifer, I think I'll pass on the previews, but a great thought inducing blog none the less. I'm thinking this is a great angle to hit expireds with.  I also appreciate Len's comments, as I think they can add insight in the form of different perspective when speaking with a potential client.

Posted by Bill Carroll, IN REAL ESTATE, REPRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING (Corcoran Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Great suggestion ...will do
Posted by Allen C. Wright, NS, AHS, REPS (RealtyU) almost 13 years ago
Hey Bill - I don't really consider doing a heck of a job as a listing agent an "angle" - I think it's our duty. So many agents market themselves as exceptional listing agents, but they really don't do much after the sign goes in the yard except badger the poor seller six weeks later for a price reduction. I think it's time that we "exceptional" listing agents actually do something exceptional for our sellers!
Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago

Jennifer - For those pursuing listings, this is a wonderful post. For those representing buyers, Lenn's reply is accurate. Rather than throw down, let's just attempt to share, a complete agent must do their job above and beyond what was once accepted when representing either a buyer or a seller.

New agents have never marketed a home. Their listing experience rivals that fellow outside BestBuy Thanksgiving evening, walking down the line of Black Friday bargin seekers, writing down what they want and giving them a number. (And then going home thinking he/she had actually sold all that merchandise).

New agents have never represented buyers. Their buying representation experience rivals a limo driver, taking a couple from club to club on New Years eve, hoping to find one that spot that will allow them entry. (And then going home thinking he/she was the reason that they got into the club).

I, for one, appreciate your check list as well as Lenn's admonition. Our focus does change depending on which type of service that we are performing. It is important to be able to recognize the different skill sets required and work to improve both areas.

Posted by John MacArthur, Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes (Century 21 Redwood) almost 13 years ago

JMac, I think I must be missing something here and I'm sincerely asking for clarity. The point of my post was to challenge listing agents to step up to the plate and do their darnedest to sell their listings. By asking my fellow ARainers to go check out the competition, I'm hoping to drive the point home that the vast majority of "us" are NOT working very hard for our sellers -- and that we CAN do so much better.

If you are a buyer's agent - knock yourself out taking advantage of all the mediocrity out there! It's your DUTY to your buyers! BUT, if you have listings, it's certainly NOT your duty to make it easy on the buyers or their agents to take advantage of your sellers (obviously).

I am speaking to listing agents in this post. I don't see how the Buyer Agent experience is relevant - that's the piece I'm missing! Esplain please!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago
Jennifer, this is a great post and as I can't follow up today it got me to thinking about the seminar I am taking tomorrow.  Marketing Made Easy.  Not from a coaching person trying to sell their wares just simple things we can do with the tools we have.  I will report back how it goes.
Posted by Linda Futral almost 13 years ago
Jennifer, I think accessibility to showing is a BIG one. FSBOs that are not home. Listed houses where the "owners" won't let you in. You'd be AMAZED! Maybe not. How do these people expect to sell?
Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) almost 13 years ago
Jennifer - Excellent advice!  I actually got a listing appointment for simply previewing a home in my farm area.  I had absolutely no intention of doing this.  I went to know my farm area inside and out.  Instead, the seller called me to say he was at the end of his listing agreement and would love to hear how I could help him.  In the end, I didn't get the listing because I told him what he needed to hear - not what he wanted to hear....his home was overpriced.  It's still sitting and no - it's not competently marketed, either!
Posted by Irene Morales Ward, Realtor - e-Pro - Northern Virginia Real Estate (REMAX Distinctive Real Estate, Inc.) almost 13 years ago
I like this challenge and yes, it has given me a good blog topic. I'll see if I need 10 listings to make a full, well-written blog (I highly doubt it)... There are too many incompetent agents out there - and yes, marketing as the professional, I will sell your home salesperson.
Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co.) almost 13 years ago

Jennifer - OK. I will confess. Almost thirteen days into the journey to the land of the "non-morbidly obese", I may at times be fuzzy on my comprehension. I also find that my focus shifts a bit. Every third word in your post reads like either pizza, mashed potatoes, or pasta. After a short nap, I have reviewed your post and realize that my brain never shut down where your focus began and Lenn's comment ended.

It should be no surprise that I totally support your admonition that listing agents should get out and take a look at the competition. Of course, I think they should have done that before they took the listing. Somewhere I can recall it being suggested that another part of your job was to actually look at the comparables in the area before coming up with a price recommendation. It might even be a good idea to do so before you go on the listing appointment.

There is a very big danger that agents will become slack in the entire listing and marketing process. In many markets, listings are not difficult to get. I fear that some agents are only doing a limited perusal of the market before sitting down with a potential seller. They are using thoughts like "nothing is really selling so what is the point of looking at other listings" or "there are so many houses on the market, I can just add one more to my group of listings".

You see, unless an agent chooses to become exclusively a buyers agent or listing agent, they need to know both skill sets. Even if they do choose to only focus on buyers or sellers, they can not do their job effectively without learning and considering the job skills that will be across the table.

I don't really have any control over these random thoughts. I think I shall just go to the Pizza Hut website and dream of days gone by.

Posted by John MacArthur, Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes (Century 21 Redwood) almost 13 years ago

its good to keep sharp on what other listing agents are doing. I see many homes grossly undermarketed, poorly prepared for the MLS etc. its terrible. everything from the first look on the MLS to the preview should be an indication of not only seller's willingness(showing instructions, ease of contact, cleanliness)  but agent's preparation (MLS photos..or lacktherof,, flyers).

This may sound bad, but if you preview one that is grossly undermarketed and serviced, make note of the address and name of the sellers and that could be your "in" for opening a dialogue to get the listing when it expires or is cancelled. 

Posted by Nate Alexander, The Long Beach Home Pro (First Team Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Jennifer, I 100% agree with you!  I can not tell you how many agents in my area market their listings properly.  I can tell now, before ever going inside, if the home will be nice to show or not, priced well or not, etc., mostly based on who the listing agent is.  I try not to let that get in the way of which homes I show, but when I see that the listing agent is one who routinely overprices their listings, I am much less apt to show it if price is a big issue for the buyers.   As a listing agent, I will ask the sellers to get the home ready to list and sell and give them a deadline and  written list of suggestions.  Excellent points!  I am going to hit send and go subscribe to your blog.....
Posted by Marlene Scheffer, Realtor to Kitsap County, WA (Realty Station) almost 13 years ago
I think this is a good idea for both buyer and seller a listing agents it gets you to see your competition and how their agent works, pricing on home comparatively to you listing and/or prospective listings; as a buyers agent it gets you to see what is availible and where, check the prices of 2 or 3 similar houses in the same area.  I'm in on the challange 
Posted by Mary Warren almost 13 years ago


I think it's a great post.  When I'm working with buyers, it is amazing to come across those homes where the seller won't let you in or the key doesn't work.  It's not your fault but I always feel bad when we can't get it.  Our job as listing agents is to make it easy to show for the buyer's they can do their thing.....which is another topic altogether.  How many buyer's agents really know how to guide their buyers??

Posted by Nancy Pav, Nancy Pav, Your "GottaHave" Realtor (Century 21 Redwood Realty) almost 13 years ago

JMac - you'll enjoy this post:

Yesterday I spent a few hours helping a friend deal with his inspection. We went thru it line by line and discussed how to respond and/or address each issue. His "real" agent just handed him the inspection notice and asked him what he wanted to do. He was frantic because he didn't really understand some of the items and thought they were deal-breakers. They weren't and now he feels much better. And you know what? It was FUN for me! To actually take control of the situation and HELP my friend through a confusing process using my expertise. What a concept!!!!!

Made me think I wanna sell real estate again - I forgot how much FUN it is to solve our clients' problems. And most of our clients today have BIG PROBLEMS. And we CAN solve a lot of them if we just give a darn about them!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago
Quick question I am Just curious of how to get a Blog Featured on Activerain....Any tips I will appreciate it.. Thanks a Million!
Posted by Juan Valdez (Priority Bail) almost 13 years ago
Jennifer, some of these are in the control of the agent and some are not. I agree with you that all of these types of things should be done, but sometimes the sellers refuse.
Posted by Al Maxwell, Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams) almost 13 years ago

One hour a day is nothing :)

I do not have to go view any of the homes (sorry to sound arrogant!) because I always pull neighborhood comps once a week.  I know pretty much all of the homes in my own neighborhood are overpriced, not easy to show, have MLS errors (to help generate showings but won't be looked at kindly by an appraiser because they look at tax records, not MLS tsheets!), etc

I would rather not waste my time doing this because then they will feedback stalk me and then I will become cranky and not have a good relationship with them if we would have a future transaction :)

I would rather spend that time marketing my own.

Someone here asked how to get a price reduction for an REO on Active Rain.  I was pretty candid and the only thing that had an expense was the Real Estate Show, which you get free for 30 days and then it is only $99 for the year ~ unlimited.  She replied she didn't want to spend anything on this listing.

Here is the moral of the story:  You need to put something in, if you want to get something out.  Sellers just don't blindly say "OK LETS REDUCE" without any given proof that you have actually done something to sell their home.  If you have done a host of things to market their home and have a virtual tracking report to prove the property is not attractive for the price, then a reduction will happen if it is presented correctly.

We need to start being responsible and not looking at listings as another sign in a yard to brand your name.  We need to work with our clients and be a team (as you mentioned)

Off my soapbox for now :) 

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) almost 13 years ago

Al - agreed. Some sellers can't or won't cooperate. However, it's our duty to make sure they know what they're supposed to do and why they're supposed to do it. And how darned important it is to their sales price (or a sale at all). If they refuse, well, then, you did your best. But I know that many agents never even have these conversations with their sellers. I don't know if they assume the sellers already know it (they don't) or if the agent doesn't think these issues are important. But making a home accessible and show-able are almost as important as price, don't you agree?

FFM - Getting featured? I dunno. I guess write stuff that people enjoy and think is worthy of being more widely-read. Try a search in the AR system about getting featured. I think it's a mystery to all of us!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago

Another of those hmmm makes you think posts....

I prefer the listing side and do everything I can to bring in buyer and their agents.  The house is presented in the best light possible to give it every chance to sell.  I realize from your challenge that I could actually go out in my target market and find 10 homes that were completely undermarketed and that would fail this challenge.  And then I'd find 10 more...

What you got me thinking about more is how valuable this exercise is for our listing appointments to help people understand how much of a difference there really is between agents, using these examples where we can.  Put in listing presentations to show how you are different.  Use this checklist to say I could go out and find at least 10 homes that don't meet this standard right now so yours would shine above all the others and here they are...  I had someone recently who just wanted to focus on the price for the home (waaaaay over!) and said "of course I expect you to do all those things" but had no understanding that some would simply put a sign in her yard and that's it.

I'm going to use Lenn's commentary as an example when I'm talking with clients.  If their home isn't presented well, she'll take full advantage of that for her clients!

This sparked a good localism post for me...

Posted by Josette Skilling (Keller Williams Capital Properties) almost 13 years ago

After 2 years as a REALTOR it has never failed to amaze me that we spend so much emphasis on teaching new agents how to market THEMSELVES, but so little on how to market a HOME for Sale!

I think that incompetent listing happens so often is that we don't EMPHASIZE it in our training. 

Here's an idea for someone...write a book on effective marketing strategies for home sales!  I'd buy it!  If there's one out there that I've missed...give us a recommendation.



Posted by Dave Pautsch, REALTOR, CRS (RE/MAX Integrity) almost 13 years ago

Dave - it is written and I'm releasing it at the convention next week! Competently listing skills have been a soapbox of mine for a while....

Josette - what great insights!!! Is the localism post written or in process? Keep me updated!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago
Jennifer:  Congratulations on your feature!  Thanks for putting a spotlight on competency.
Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 13 years ago

Jennifer - Nice post.  I do make it a point to try to preview at least 3-5 homes a day(usually vacants as they are easier to get into). 

As a buyers agent it helps me to know the inventory better so that when a new buyer comes along i already have knowledge of the inventory as well as the homes themselves.

As a listing agent it helps me to know how others are marketing their listings(good or bad) and sometimes it even gives me some good new ideas to work off of.  It also gives me a hands on approach for my listing presentations as I can speak with potential clients with first hand knowledge of their area not just a CMA printout with a list of homes I have never seen.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.  The more you know the farther you will go.

P.S. - It also helps me to clear my mind by just getting out for a while, lol.

Posted by Joe Zapata, Your Burbank Real Estate Expert (Keller Williams Realty Media World) almost 13 years ago
I like your idea. I'm not sure about visiting 10 listings, but you need to know what your competition is. I do believe you can sell your listings alot easier if you do the things you mentioned. I always tell my seller's that a home buyer needs to feel at home in the house if they want to sell it. Sometimes you sell home "as is", but even in those instances I think you need maximum exposure.  
Posted by Ryan Allie, Creating Your Puget Sound Lifestyle (Living Puget Sound) almost 13 years ago
I have mixed feelings....I guess depends on who the side I represent.  Of course, as a sellers agent, we want to the most simple cost effecticve aesthetic fixes to keep it clean.  Some of your points cover houses that are owner occuppied, what about vacant homes?  They often sit, collect weeds, dust, trash and bugs...we must effectively communicate our tips to our clients.  As a side example, I just closed on a house that was in "deferred" condition, originally listed at about $197,900, we viewed it at $180,000 and offered $160,000.  Along with the offer, I included a letter that outlined a list of repairs and upgrades that were obviously never addressed in the 17-20 year life of the home.  Had the home been cleaned, maybe touch up some paint, and all junk and trash removed, they may have gotten their price, and had an argument for negotiating a higher price for the seller.  A handful of these items that would make the home shine, were taken care of by the seller as a contingency in the contract.  Professional cleaning and clean up, the buyer, indicated after seeing the home before closing, that he would have paid the $180,000 had the home looked this way in the beginning, instead, a $10,000 price swing in his favor means my happy buyer!
Posted by Joe Olmi (La Entrada Realty) almost 13 years ago
Joe - I used to be "Denver's Vacant Home Specialist" because I had a lot of vacant listings. I took the responsibility of keeping those listings show-ready as part of my service. Sellers simply aren't going to do it and if they won't, and you want a sale - you'll have to. Or, don't take the listing. I felt that the trade off was worth it - vacant homes are easier to deal with for many reasons, but you do have to do some of the maintenance work yourself.
Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago
Renee - You get it... so you are relieved of the ten listing preview assignment! Selling listings is hard work. But it's well-compensated work if you succeed!! GREAT point about asking for a price reduction without holding up YOUR end of the bargain! Wish I'd thought of that.
Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago
As a Listing Agent this is a RIGHT ON POST! 

Even the buyers agents out there have to admit they DO LIKE a well priced, easy to show, clean listing with a GREAT experienced Listing Agent behind it to negotiate with?!?!
Posted by Debbie Cook, Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc) almost 13 years ago

I am so amazed even with my listings right now. The showing are slow and it seems that sellers are getting lazy thinking that nobody is going to come by today.

I was showing upper end properties recently 800K+ and was truly amazed at most of the homes and how they showed cold. I had to cold show most homes as my clients were from out of town and we really did not know what we were going to look at until that day. Anyway beautiful homes trashed inside and little minor repairs (under 100 bucks to fix) that were strewed around that properties.

I try to explain to my sellers that they need to keep the home picked up and ready to show in 10 minutes or less. I told them yes its stressful but that's the price of selling your home in a slower market.

You need to be in the top 30% of the market in home presentation or the bottom 30% in price....

Todd Hueffed in partnership with Keller Williams North Seattle

Posted by Todd Hueffed (Champions Real Estate Services) almost 13 years ago
Oh how I wish all listings met this criteria. It would make all of our jobs much easier and would get higher sale prices for the sellers.
Posted by Lisa Hill, Daytona Beach Real Estate (Florida Property Experts) almost 13 years ago
Liked your original post and challenge but was a bit concerned about one of your comments about helping a "friend" with his inspection.  First of all if you are not a licensed contractor you are in violation of our NAR code of ethics by giving advise in an area where you are not expert. Second if I were the buyers agent I would call you on the carpet for interference with my exclusive agency relationship with my client (another violation of the NAR code of ethics). Your friend is afterall in a contractual situation so they are being represented. No matter how you feel about the style of representation you are wrong to step in when not invited by the agent.   If the buyer did not understand the report he should have consulted the inspector and perhaps a contractor for advise.  The problem with many agents is that they step way over the line sometimes and I think you jumped over it in this situation. 
Posted by Anonymous almost 13 years ago
Good post. Love the homes with the smelly barking dog locked in the laundry room, and love even more the ones with underwear on the floor. Thanks for posting.
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) almost 13 years ago

Regarding helping my friend with the inspection - don't worry - for the sake of brevity, I did not include all the details of the situation and I am well within my bounds of expertise AND non-interference. The buyer's agent was in fact grateful for my help because she is not used to dealing with older homes.

Lisa - I agree! Wouldn't it be wonderful if our buyers could evaluate a home based on whether or not it suited them instead of whether or not it was CLEAN and SHOWABLE?

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago

Jennifer - great idea!  Most agents are complaining there are no showings these days, this would generate showings and hopefully, some feedback on the listing!  Which might just convince the sellers to make the changes recommended by their realtor or a much needed price reduction. 

I plan to stop by your booth at NAR!  Looking forward to meeting you!

Patty Keller, AnotherME

Posted by Patty Keller, AnotherMe - 770-414-9393 - RE Virtual Assistant (AnotherME, LLC) almost 13 years ago
Okay - am I losing my mind or are some of your comments disappearing??? Trying to respond and I can't find all the ones I was emailed!!
Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago

Hi Jennifer,

What a great suggestion and we do so agree with each and every one of your points.  Love the one about the barking dogs.  Many people don't attach value to what a real estate professional brings to the table and this nicely illustrates just some of the many ways we contribute.

Posted by Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Christie's International Real Estate ) almost 13 years ago
Great point Lisa - to take it a step further - if you (as an agent) are competently marketing your listings, you'll be a whole lot more confident in your level of service, so selling yourself should be a piece o'cake!
Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago

Jennifer, I could not agree with you more. If agents these days would level with their sellers we probably would have fewer listings on the market. Agents need to realize they are not in the business of selling homes, they are in the business of marketing them. In the end the home will sell it self if priced, and marketed properly.

Posted by Rob Baldwin, REALTOR, Santa Clarita (US ECO-GREEN REAL ESTATE INC.) almost 13 years ago
Of the ones that I have done recently.  Only 2 or 3 out of 10 would fit into that category.
Posted by Matthew Zgonc, Realtor, CFS, CVS (Aksland Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Rob - you are correct. We have a fantastic system in place for selling homes - we don't need to do that ourselves. We need to make sure our product is well priced and well presented and the buyers will find it!
Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 13 years ago
Hi Jennifer:  This is a great idea.  I very much recommend it as something to do... especially when things are a bit slow.  Increasing one's market knowledge can easily lead to more business.
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 13 years ago

This is so true.  Even more so now that we're in 2010 in a very challenging buyer's market!

Posted by Tim Derylak (Keller Williams Realty) about 10 years ago

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