Who’s Responsible for What?

In a real estate transaction, as in most transactions, it’s important to know who is responsible for what. If your house doesn’t sell as quickly as you hope or you can’t find the home of your dreams, whose fault is it? If your house sells in a day or the first house you view is perfect, who gets to take credit?

As you can imagine, each situation is unique. Each buyer or seller has his or her strengths and weaknesses, as does each realtor. Just as insurance companies are quick to point out that no one with a bank account is responsible for acts of God, some situations really are just good or bad luck. I can tell you what each person is responsible for, and then I’ll leave it to you to sort out who gets the credit or blame. When you boil it all down, there are really only two reasons why your property sells: price and exposure. You determine price.  Your realtor is responsible for exposure.

On the selling side, the realtor should research the local housing market to determine the property’s fair market value, and then advise the seller about how to price the house so it will sell in the time period the seller is hoping for. The realtor should also create and execute a marketing plan to sell the property. Part of the plan should include recommendations on how to prepare the property for sale, like staging and what improvements to undertake. Once an offer is on the table, the realtor should facilitate the negotiation and advise the seller on how to respond.

The seller is responsible for determining the asking price, making the property as attractive and available to show as possible (through proper staging and by keeping the house clean and in good repair), and responding to offers.

Anytime an offer comes in, three responses are possible: accept the offer, reject the offer, or counter the offer. One of these is a foolish mistake. You should never reject an offer. If you don’t like the offer, respond with something other than, “NO!” Remember, this is a business transaction, not an emotional brawl.

While you may not think an offer is fair, sometimes it is your emotional tie to the property or a sense of frustration about the true value of the home (versus what you paid for it) that is making you upset. I’ve looked at hundreds of appraisals, and sadly for some, I’ve never seen the “But I paid so much for it so it should be worth more” clause. On a happy note, many people sell their house for much more than they bought it for, so the market cuts both ways.

On the buying side, the realtor should work with buyers to prioritize their needs and wants, and filter the available properties accordingly. They should also facilitate offers and counter offers. Buyers should make themselves available to see properties as much as they can. They should get pre-approved for a loan as covered in detail in a prior column so that when the right property comes along, they are ready to act, and ultimately, they should decide how much to offer when they want to purchase a property.

When it comes down to it, a realtor should help property owners sell their house for the highest possible price in the least time with the least hassle, and after all isn’t that what you’re after? A realtor should help buyers find properties for sale that match their needs and assist the buyers in negotiating a fair price. That’s basically it in a nutshell.

Next time I’ll write about winterizing your home and avoiding real estate scams. If there’s something you would like me to write about or if you have questions about real estate or property management, feel free to contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit our website at www.realtyworldselzer.com. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.

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