I recently listed the home of an 85 year old man who had lived in his Short Hills, NJ house since 1968. Almost half of his lifetime was spent in this charming colonial known at 26 Meadowbrook Road and it was a difficult process for him to have so many strangers walking through. He had been a widower for over 20 years and in less than 2 weeks, he had more people in and out of his house than in the decades since his wife had died.
A story in the NY Times suggests that Nice Guys Finish First – from buyers to Realtors, to lawyers; the nicer the people, the smoother the deal. Being nice also gives some buyers an edge over others during a negotiation when there is more than one bid. It’s true that a seller may take a lower offer from one party just because they have behaved in a friendly manner, over someone else who has offended them in some way.
The seller of this charming home was a gentleman who had also been my neighbor and over the years we became friends. He trusted me and followed my advice, with the help of his family, and he painted a few rooms, got rid of some junk, decluttered his piles, he allowed me to hire a window washer, we shampooed the rugs, spruced up the landscaping and made a few repairs. We also implemented a tax appeal to make the house more affordable and then set out to begin our showings over the first weekend.
Within an hour of listing the house on the MLS, buyers were showing up to drive by the house. People were calling, looking on our website and even knocking on the front door without an appointment to see if they could sneak in before the showings were officially to begin. Did that buyer really think he would have an advantage by getting into the house without an agent and by not following the protocol?
Luckily the owner’s granddaughter had come to sit with him and keep him calm during these first few days and it was she who watched the visitors and took mental notes on how people were behaving.
This is where being nice, really paid off. Sometimes real estate agents and buyers forget their manners and just by being respectful and complimentary, the seller was much calmer. As people entered the house, they were asked to remove their shoes. The house had just been professionally cleaned and everyone was walking in with spring pollen on the bottom of their shoes. Now that the house was so clean they wanted to keep it that way and a few people complained about removing shoes. Mental notes were made when people did not cooperate…
It was stressful for the seller to leave his home everytime someone came for a visit so he preferred to sit on his porch and stay out their way. When people offered to remove their shoes, this put the owner at ease and the more complimentary people were, and the softer they spoke, the more relaxed the seller became.
I was shocked to learn that several people actually said in quite a loud voice, within earshot of the seller, ‘This kitchen will have to be ripped out.’ One would think that saying that about someone’s home, while they are nearby, might be offensive but the Realtor and the buyers went on and on about gutting the bathrooms, refinishing the floors, and overhauling the landscape.
Shocking, but this line of conversation did nothing to endear the Realtor or the buyer to the seller or his granddaughter as they sat and listenend to the offensive comments. It was hard for me to believe that the showing agent had not prepared her buyers to be sensitve to the feelings of the seller and we had over 10 showings on the first day, and several of the prospects thought nothing of talking about their plans to demolish the inside of this home. I made sure to tell all of them that the owner was an older man and that he would probably be home, but I requested they use the lockbox so I could keep track of the showings.
Some agents made appointments and came very early. Some came late. Some parked in the driveway and blocked the owner’s car in the garage and the grandaughter’s car in the driveway. Some people needed to use a bathroom but did not ask permission. Some visitors left the door open which allowed bugs to get inside. Each of these actions were noted and since the seller was home with his granddaughter, it was easy to track.
What I found hard to believe is the way some of the agents spoke to me over the phone. Telling me how much work the house needed or complaining of an odor or that I had not priced it correctly. This was before I knew who was behaving in an unkind manner while at the house and I could not understand why an agent who wants to sell my listing, would begin a conversation by harrassing me.
In the end, the seller received a great offer from a very qualified buyer and closed on the house in less than 60 days. The selling price was $75,000 over the list price and the buyers gave the impression of being very nice while they were in the home.
When Antoinette Martin, writer from the NY Times, interviewed me for her article, she agreed that most agents who were quoted in her article, commented about how they would much rather have a transaction with an agent whom they can trust, admire and respect. Someone who is nice.
To meet the agents at Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, NJ and find a professional agent who will take good care of your real estate needs, go to Our Towne Team page on our website. The outcome of your transaction can be greatly impacted by working with a sales associate who is not only an excellent negotiator, with a broad knowledge of the local communities, but also someone who is nice.