Thursday, November 1, 2007

My house won’t sell – when to change agents

Here's a scenario that we come across fairly often: A home has been on the market for a length of time, the listing agreement is about to expire, and the house hasn't yet sold. The homeowner decides to interview a new agent (or several agents), whose advice is that the home is overpriced. The homeowner decides to switch agents and lower his price.

I've been on both sides of this example – I've picked up overpriced listings that the first agent didn't sell, and I've lost an occasional listing after it expired, so I have a pretty good understanding of what you might be thinking. Here's my opinion: Lowering your price is probably a good idea, especially in this market. But changing agents – that depends...

Has your current agent has done a good job of marketing your home and communicating with you? Has he answered all your questions, returned your calls & emails, and kept you apprised of any activity & interest in your home? Has he kept you up to date with the rest of the activity in your neighborhood – new listings, new sales, and price changes? Has he advised you to reduce your price, but maybe you didn't feel comfortable with such a low number? If so, there's probably not a good reason to switch; it sounds like you're getting good service and reasonable advice.

But if your current agent isn't doing everything above, making a change is probably in your best interest, regardless of your listing price.

I spoke with one homeseller who didn't have a single showing of her house during the four months she had been on the market, and her realtor never contacted her to discuss the situation or their sales strategy. She asked what I would do differently, and my response was something like "Everything – duh."

I also had a listing where we started out with a great plan, but shortly after going active two other homes in the neighborhood hit the market at significantly lower prices. For several months my seller refused to make any adjustments; he felt his price was competitive enough. Later, when our listing expired, he listed with another agent ("to mix things up a little bit") at a 13% price reduction, and sure enough the home sold in a reasonable amount of time.

The bottom line is that your agent can do a lot of things, but he/she can't control the market price of your home. If that is your only reason for changing agents, you might want to reconsider. On the other hand, you're going to spend a lot of time and energy working with your agent, so if you're not happy about something he/she does, go ahead & try working with someone else.

- Chris Butterworth

[tags] expired listings, change realtors [/tags]