In football, it's best to employ a quarterback with a short memory. The same thing goes for pitchers in baseball. Unless your Ted Lilly and you deliver eight and a third innings of no-hit baseball five days before getting shelled by the Angels. In Ted's case, he should have had a better memory- this is the exception to my short memory rule. In golf, it's probably also a good thing to have a bad memory. If Dustin Johnson, a man who's name has now become a verb on the golf course, had a more fleeting memory, he may have quickly recovered after his triple bogey and found a way to shoot anything but an 82 on Sunday. Short memories are great in sports, but they're deadly when it comes to home selling.
There's one thing that is common among most sellers these days, and it matters little if those sellers are in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin or Geneva, Illinois, or Geneva, New York. Sellers pretty much all recognize that it's a buyers market. I've debated the phrase (against myself, and I won) "buyers market", and I don't think that every market that favors buyers is indeed a buyers market. I've argued that in order for a buyers market to exist you need one crucial element- motivated sellers. I could slip into that debate again this morning, but I'm going to do my best to keep my rapidly firing brain focused on the subject matter. Sellers. Sellers are aware that the market does not favor them, and they're aware that buyers are indeed holding nearly all of the cards. They know they need to be flexible to attract a buyer, and they will, many times, bend over backwards to secure a contract with their much needed buyer. Once the agents are exhausted and buyer and seller have hopefully only figuratively beat on each other and the deal is put together on paper- that's when the seller has a tendency to lose his mind. Or hers. In either case, they quickly embrace the sporting mindset and choose to completely forget what matters most.
What is it that matters most? The buyer. Sellers, armed with a fresh paper contract, develop a nasty case of new found confidence. They think that the buyers are lucky to be buying their house, and at such a terrific price. The buyers should thank them for "allowing" their property to be sold at such a "bargain" price. They think they can sit back and have the buyer feed them grapes and fan them with giant, fresh cut palm fronds. They think these things, and these thoughts can poison a deal faster than a shot of hemlock.
This trend that sellers are following is something that I'm seeing an increase in lately, and it's unfortunate. Sellers need to remember one thing and one thing only. The buyer is much, much, much, much more important than they are. If you're a seller, please write this down and tape it to your forehead. "I need the buyer more than the buyer needs me." It's simple really, and it's a theme that should course through every move a seller makes from contract negotiation through successful closing. If a buyer asks for something that appears unreasonable- like a $500 credit to pay for some superfluous phantom repair- just negotiate the item briefly and acquiesce. If a buyer wants to move a closing date around a couple days and it's not going to create an undue hardship, just agree to the change. Why? To keep the buyer happy.
I didn't go to a high school where we were subjected to the "egg baby" exercise, but I've heard of it before. The concept is that teenagers will have to carry around an egg, which they are supposed to treat like a baby, and while tending to their egg baby they'll realize that they don't want an egg baby or a real baby. They have to carry this egg baby with them everywhere over a predetermined period of time, always careful not to break it or lose it. For sellers, this egg baby exercise applies to you and how you should treat your buyer. Coddle your buyer. When you're going to the store, perhaps text your buyer and ask her if she'd like you to pick her up a gallon of milk. Perhaps ask your buyer if he needs anything from the deli counter too. And if your buyer asks you to stop and pick up his laundry from the dry cleaners, just agree to it already.
Whatever you do as a seller, just don't forget how special that buyer really is. Just because you have a written contract doesn't mean the job finished. The buyer has thousands of houses to choose from, and you have just one house to sell. Just please remember that.
A Sellers LamentJun 22, 2010 by DC
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