Jax and Sam McCall - Continuation of Jax Biography
During an informal group discussion among real estate agents, I asked my associates to share their top 10 types of bad home sellers. I urged them to share their worst horror stories, you know, the sellers from the burning depths of hell. It's not that I couldn't come up with my own list of bad home sellers, mind you, because I've been in the business for longer than I can count using all of my fingers and toes, but it's more interesting to share stories from other agents as well.
Here is the countdown, David Letterman-style, of the top 10 types of bad home sellers:
#10) Mistrustful Home Seller
The mistrustful home seller is sometimes found to be untrustworthy herself since sometimes it takes one to know one. This bad type of home seller might question everything her agent says and does, and may demand proof from a third party that the agent is not trying to take advantage of her. Her character type might lend itself to sneaky behavior. For example, she may refuse to completely fill out seller disclosures for fear a buyer will cancel after she reveals a defect, even though full disclosure is required by law.
#9) Fanatical Animal Lover Home Sellers
Wait, you are probably thinking, what's wrong with a person who loves animals? The answer is nothing, unless it is carried to the extreme and affects selling your house. While I can be the first to admit that I often prefer the company of my pets to humans, I am not blind to how difficult it can be when selling a home where pets live.
Fanatical animal lovers don't always understand why other people don't love their darlings as much as they do and sometimes refuse to believe the harm that pets can cause. Out of sight (and odor free) is the best policy.
#8) Underwater Home Sellers Who Already Bought Another Home
While strategic short sales are not impossible, what is pretty much impossible is persuading a bank which holds or services an underwater mortgage that its borrowers who are financially solvent with disposable income and high FICO scores deserve a short sale. To grant a short sale to sellers able to qualify for two mortgages and who have already moved into their dream home is not on the bank's agenda.
A short sale is a privilege, it is not a right. Banks are not required to reward sellers by letting them off the hook simply because the sellers wanted to buy a new house. Not to mention, short sale mortgage fraud could bubble up to the surface if the new bank was not made aware of the seller's intention to short sale the previous home.
#7) Pack Rat Home Sellers
People might jokingly refer to women with 50 pairs of shoes as a pack rat, and I'm not just talking about myself, but that's not really the definition of a pack rat. This is referring to a serious disease identified by the medical profession as an obsessive compulsive disorder related to hoarding. People who are pack rats tend to collect large amounts of personal belongings, either loosely tossed into a designated spot, stacked into vertical piles or packed into boxes and stored in bedrooms, hallways, living areas. It's tough to prepare a cluttered home for sale.
Sometimes the belongings are mixed with debris. You might not be able to open a bedroom door because the room is so full, or there might be only a small path down the hallway piled high with newspapers and magazines. If moisture seeps in to decay the hoarded items, that can also affect structural integrity of the home. Sellers who are overwhelmed by collecting stuff might not have time to do routine chores like wash the dishes or fix the roof.
#6) Impatient Home Sellers
These hurry-it-up home sellers are often in such a rush to get the home on the market, that they don't have time to take care of the little things that make a huge difference to home buyers. This kind of radical impatience can sellers to lose hard dollars in the sale. They might believe they don't need to fix anything because their home will sell AS IS to the buyer, or that a buyer won't notice poor maintenance. Buyers will make an offer all right on these types of homes, but that offer is generally a lowball offer.
#5) High Maintenance Home Sellers
I'm sure everybody knows people who believe the world revolves around them and they are the center of the universe. High maintenance sellers are often very demanding and tend to treat their real estate agents like a dog, except dogs are generally treated better. Because when a dog comes after her owner summons, it's generally to receive a treat. When an agent comes running on demand to take care of a high maintenance client, it's often to get kicked in the head.
Agents who handle high maintenance clients are careful to woo and compliment and they never disagree with the home seller. It's an art or a sickness, depending on how you look at it. Some agents figure the money is worth the headache as high maintenance sellers are often the sellers of luxury homes.
#4) Controlling Home Sellers
These are worse than the high maintenance clients because unlike the high maintenance who realize they may be ignorant and don't give a rats, the controlling home sellers think they know everything. Little is worse than a person who is so convinced he is right when he is wrong. Controlling sellers shrug off all professional advice and by doing so tend to sabotage their own sales. It's often a miracle their homes sell at all. And, if they do manage to attract a buyer, you can bet all of the accolades for finding a buyer will go to themselves and the reason for the lower price will rest on their agent's shoulders, when the opposite is true.
#3) Fantasy-Land Home Sellers
Sellers who live in a fantasy land tend to grab on to an unrealistic sales price and refuse to let go. Their listing agent can show them comparable sales and explain how pricing works, and they will refuse to listen. Because they are certain those rose bushes in the front yard are worth thousands to a home buyer, and that little garden shed they built in the back, coupled with the recoated blacktop driveway, have added $50,000 of value to the bottom line price for their home. These sellers are looking for a fool to buy their home, and there are fools who buy homes, just not very many.
Three favorite phrases often repeated by fantasy-land home sellers are:
1. I'm not giving it away (because that would be a charitable donation), or
2. They can always make an offer (except they won't), or
3. Just tell buyers the seller is motivated (but motivated sellers price the home competitively).
#2) Cheap Home Sellers
Cheap home sellers are often the sellers with the beer budgets and champagne tastes. They want to attract the top talent but they don't want to pay the fee it takes to put these kinds of agents to work for them. In one example, an agent sold a home above list price, and when the appraisal came in low, the agent negotiated through the buyer's agent for the buyer to bridge most of the gap, yet the seller still asked the agent to discount the commission to make up the rest of the difference. The seller intended to penalize the agent for selling the home over market value.
Generally, full-fee top agents rarely accept discounted rates. However, there is a place for discount brokers in the real estate business, too.
#1) Insane Home Sellers
Not every person who wanders around talking to herself is insane; she might have a bluetooth device stuck in her ear. And not every insane person is easy to recognize because, to get along in the world some of the truly bonkers nut-jobs have developed finely tuned coping mechanisms and over time have learned how to initially hide alternate personalities.
Some of the crazy-appearing sellers are simply bipolar and maybe are not taking their prescribed medications, but others can be downright crazy insane; unfortunately, the agent might not discover this little fact until the home is on the market. Every home seller is crazy to some extent because real estate can make one crazy, but the truly insane can be frightening to encounter. Based on my own experiences selling real estate in Sacramento, I'd venture to guess about 3% to 5% of all bad home sellers fit this description.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, BRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.