From Facebook: What Do You Do With an Uncooperative Seller?

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What do you do when a seller isn’t cooperative? (File photo courtesy Flickr)

This week’s Friday Question had its genesis in a conundrum we faced here at CandysDirt — we found a local listing that was quite well, not conducive to good marketing of a home, to put it delicately.

At the time, we talked amongst ourselves about why the photos in the listing may have looked the way they did — there were shots out of focus, random pets, stacks of boxes in another, the top of a random woman’s head in another.

Now, we have a weekly feature called the Wednesday WTF, where we do sometimes react off the cuff to notable listings all over the country. In fact, this week’s took a Realtor to task for a poor attempt at virtual staging that was so bizarre it could only be comical.

So we posed this question to our readers on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

The response was pretty much immediate. Responses ranged from “Never acceptable,” to “Never.”

“Professional photography should be on every listing,” said Nancy Wilson. “No matter what the price point is. The cost is less than $150 and it’s our job to do the best we can when marketing our listings.”

“I’m not a realtor but I wouldn’t list a home until it was decluttered, clean and photo ready (including front and back yard..yes, edge the grass, trim the hedges and weed any flower beds),” said Amy Blevins. “The more presentable the property is, the faster it sells.”

“It is never acceptable. Even if it is a lease listing,” said Frances Kwan. “It is our duty to bring our sellers/landlords the highest and best offer possible. Marketing and traffic is a big component of the equation. Do it right or don’t do it at all.”

Bad photography doesn’t give a buyer a good idea of what the home is actually like, most Realtors said, and it also doesn’t really lure them to schedule a showing, either.

“It’s frustrating for buyers when the photography is below acceptable standards,” said Sally Pelz. “Buyers dismiss properties based on poor photography which is a disadvantage for seller.”

Reader Helen Anders agreed. “If listing photos fail to show the kitchen, I always wonder why and keep looking,” she said. “And clutter turns me off even if I know I won’t be cluttery.”

And while everyone was weighing in, I reached out to the Realtor, who told me that she had problems with the sellers refusing to declutter or prepare for pictures. The home had 15 showings in the 140 days it had been on market, and very little interest beyond that.

So what do you do in that case? Some said they wouldn’t take a listing if the seller was unwilling to work with the Realtor to sell the home.

James Bohan-Pitt agreed with Wilson (as did several other Realtors) that it was a minimal expense for the Realtor to invest in marketing the home properly.

“A three percent sales commission on a $200,000 home is $6,000, and with a 70/30 broker split it is $4,200 to the Realtor,” he said. “ A professional photographer will take high quality photos for $300-$500. That is 8-10 percent of commission towards basic marketing costs. That is completely acceptable and affordable for the Realtor to pay.”

And if the problem is beyond just taking good photos — such as when the seller is reluctant to declutter or get the home ready for showings, several Realtors said they would have to take into account their own professional reputations.

“It’s a direct reflection of your professionalism and success as a Realtor,” said Janet Hopkins.

“If the owner won’t clean as a minimum, why even take them as a client?” Bohan-Pitt asked. “If they do clean, advise them to declutter. If they won’t declutter, then return to my first point — is it worth keeping them as a client? Do they really want to sell the house?”

What do you think? How should a Realtor navigate scenarios where sellers are reluctant to help market their home? How do you handle those cases?

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, we’ll post a hot-button question on our Facebook page. Sometimes, they’ll be serious. Sometimes, they’ll be more light-hearted. Want to take part? Like and follow us, and comment on this Friday’s question.


Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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