JL's Columbia SC Real Estate Blog: To List or Not to List - The Pros and Cons of Listing a House You Think Might Not Sell

To List or Not to List - The Pros and Cons of Listing a House You Think Might Not Sell

New Listing I've heard a lot of opposing views on whether or not to take certain listings and whether it's worth it in the end. The fact of the matter is that sometimes you can tell in the middle of a listing appointment that the seller is really not going to listen to your recommendations. They may not be willing to price the home correctly, or maybe they will, and they are not willing to prepare the property for sale to compete with other homes in their price range. There is a limitless amount of issues that can go right or wrong when it comes to listing a house. But for this exercise, let's just say that you just know deep down, this will be a struggle between yourself and your clients from beginning to end.

For Sale

 I'm not here to pretend I have any business telling another how to run their business, but I would like to examine the pros and cons of taking these types of listings. It's been the cause of some heated debate both here, and and some that I have witnessed in person. I would love to hear what any of you may have to say on the subject. As I said, I am not here to convince people in one way or another, just to test the topic.

Cons- Many of these are obvious, and there's no lack of them. It costs money to market a property for sale, if you do it right. If there's little chance that it will sell, then you could lose all the money on advertising and all the time wasted. The stress that comes along with having to fight a seller that feels they need not listen to a professional can also be a drag. There are few things worse than explaining over and over again the same thing to deaf ears that could care less.

Listing Away You can also from time to time get the feeling that your peers are judging you due to the property that you list. We all know the snide comments about an overpriced listing and how we and our clients are just dreaming. Or if the house is not in great showing shape you could be the talk of the office. Plus, no one likes to see their listing expire.

 But what about the pros of this situation? In the end, it is still a listing and I know a few agents that never saw a listing they didn't like. It's still your name on the sign in the yard and it's still something for you to work with.

 The fact of the matter is that people search for homes for sale, not so much for Realtors. The more listings you have, the more opportunities you have to attract a buyer that will be willing to work with you, even if they do not purchase one of your listings. Any listing gives you something to advertise.

 Never underestimate the luck factor my friends. Once and a while even a blind squirrel finds a nut and some times even the listings that aren't so great do sell. You never know when the right person will end up in the right place, so you do have to just put yourself out there once and a while.

 Again, not here to change the minds of those that see all the pros or those that see all the cons. I just wanted to take a look at both sides of the story and see how it plays out in the end.



JL Boney, III - Columbia, SC Realtor - Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate

 I specialize in Columbia, SC real estate and the surrounding areas, including Blythewood, SC, Kershaw County, Fairfield County, and Lexington, SC. If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in Columbia, SC or any of the surrounding areas, I would love the opportunity to speak with to see how I can help. Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me if I can be of service to you.

Office- 803-788-1450     Cell- 803-730-9601     Email- James_Boney@Yahoo.com

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Comment balloon 129 commentsJL Boney, III • September 21 2009 07:05PM


[Never underestimate the luck factor, my friends] is RIGHT-EE-OH!!! (Where is Felix The Cat?) A-hahaha!

Seriously...there are no 'slam dunk' properties and no 'impossibles'.

A wise broker I know says "There's a butt for every saddle."

The trick is whether it's the right listing for ME, I think.

Posted by Candice A. Donofrio, 928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text (Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker) over 10 years ago

Excellent view of the pros and the cons.  I remember seeing a listing once that had a TERRIBLE location and thinking, "I'm glad that's not MY listing!!"  Well, guess who found me on Active Rain and wanted me to be her realtor after her listing expired end of last year?  LOL!!  We had a contract in 98 days!! Thank you Lord!!  SO...you just never know!!

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) over 10 years ago

Whether or not a house sells, it's still an opportunity to get other business.  The only issue for me is once in a while, I meet sellers and know we are just a match made in Hades.  If they don't pass the fun test, I'll let someone else take them on. 

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) over 10 years ago

Just closed a 1954 home that was not upgraded and there were tenants who had LOTS of clutter. It went into contract within 11 days.

Never underestimate a home. Like I tell my buyers....no home is ever perfect...home is where YOU make it :)

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 10 years ago


Great post, in this market the listing is either salable or it not salable. The price of unsold listing is time, effort, energy, money and no referrals.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) over 10 years ago

"It's still your name on the sign in the yard" which is huge in my opinion. I don't want everyone in the neighborhood or that wastes time viewing a home that will not sell to remember me for 'that house @ that price". I'll not waste time, print space, or advertising dollars on something that will not sell. Doing so is not fair to my other sellers or myself. In reality, it is not fair to the seller either.

I have had sellers that I turned down for being unreasonable come to me after listing with others. They indicated they lost time and monet and added stress that was not needed. After a listing expires sellers are often very anxious to find someone to SELL INSTEAD OF LIST their home.

Posted by John Rakoci, North Myrtle Beach Coastal Carolinas (Eagle Realty) over 10 years ago

JL this comes at a perfect time as I am wondering about this house I have listed -- and wondering about the implications of it sitting. And sitting. And sitting.

Then I realize people do understand that my record is of SELLING not SITTING, and see my marketing -- and realize that it is not ME that is the problem...

Plus, I have gotten a few GREAT possible buyers out of it!!!

Posted by Marney Kirk, Towson, Maryland Real Estate (Cummings & Co. Realtors) over 10 years ago

Hi JL. It's good to consider the pros and cons. One advantage is name recognition but then if the home doesn't sell for a year or longer do we really want our name on it? LOL Great post as usual.

Posted by Lana Robbins Realtor ® Licensed Real Estate Broker, Licensed in Florida, Washington, and Hawai'i (Aloha Kai Real Estate) over 10 years ago

WE HAVE A LICENSE TO SELL - WITHOUT STATING THAT ALL WE WILL SELL ARE ESTATES ONLY!  I'm still trying to locate a sound, decrepid home under $60,000-  buyers are different animals and don't rule out what they want to buy.   LIST ANYTHING YOU CAN GET YOUR INK ON!

Posted by Wayne Palmer, Eddie Palmer (WNC Dreams Realty) over 10 years ago


I take everything into consideration. If I think that the location is good and that I will get a lot of calls from the sign I'll probably take it. And who knows, you might get a deal too.

It's all about judgement and making the right call!

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 10 years ago


I take as many listings as possible. Nothing ever goes as planned. Theres somebody for everyone.

Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) over 10 years ago

JL...I wrestle with this question all the time.  but, I look back and see the ones that I thought would never sell, sell in a few days and others that should have been gone in a week, still be around 3-4 months later!

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) over 10 years ago

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Posted by Donna Cox (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate - Rand Realty) over 10 years ago

Ugly ducklings sell! After selling the ugliest house in my area I came to the conclusion that there are other people out there who have different taste than me. I think Mr. Keller said it best when he said "listings are gifts from the gods."  (except for condos, I don't have the time for those little over priced concrete boxes ;- ) Thanks for the post.

Posted by Vanessa Reilly, domoREALTY, Homes for Sale - Atlanta (domoREALTY) over 10 years ago

You are exactly right, in my opinion!  The more listings you have - the more business you will have.  Other seller's see that you have listings and will think of you when they list....Buyer's contact you off of listings you have.  I think it's all about listings - and they really are the cheapest means of advertising!!  Think of how much you would spend advertising in a magazine, when having listings costs you dramatically less and has a much better R.O.I.

Posted by Lainie Ramsey, Lake Texoma Expert (Homes By Lainie Real Estate Group) over 10 years ago

Yes there is a home for everyone, and someone for every home. That said, if I feel the owner is not going to be working in good faith with us, not within the realm of disclosure and such, then no, I would not take the listing. If it is a matter of it's not the cutest home on the block, I would definitely welcome the opportunity to market it.

Posted by Dick and Dixie Sells, Realtors, Tampa Bay Florida Homes For Sale (Sells Real Estate, LLC) over 10 years ago

My best story is the crack house that I listed, I had to change the locks because the prostitutes were hanging out in the house! I sold it in a few weeks and it had multiple offers!

Yes, I do prefer to list the nicer homes, but it closed and my customer was so happy!

Posted by Pam Robbins over 10 years ago

I only know I won't take a listing if the seller is going to be a nightmare to deal with.  If we don't gel, who needs the stress?  These include sellers who know everything, refuse to listen to rationality and are abusive.  I won't waste my time with people who are mean.

Posted by Barb Mihalik (RE/MAX Elite) over 10 years ago

This question can be answered many different ways depending on where you are in your real estate career!  When I was just starting out, I did take anything I could to get my name out there.  Of course the market was much different then and everything really did have a chance of selling!

Today, we are all having to decide where the best use of our marketing dollars, time and efforts will go to.  I myself am not willing to take on an overpriced listing from sellers who will not listen to me.  What's professional about that?  Who has money to throw away for that?  If it's priced right and/or right condition (at LEAST one of those!), I don't bother!

Posted by Debra Lawler, GRI, Associate Broker (Prudential Georgia Realty) over 10 years ago

it can br trick especially if you are new and want to jump on the first thing burning to get your name out there

Posted by Terrell M. Turner Sr. (Hallmark Realty) over 10 years ago

Thanks for the post. You just never know!

Posted by Anna Stout (F.C.Tucker Co.-Carmel/Westfield IN Homes for Sale) over 10 years ago

My first and BEST broker in charge trained me. He said let the buyers buy and the sellers sell. You are not the one living there. All we must do is make sure that the clients are aware of their options, rights, responsibilities, and what could be drawbacks in the future. Also what could go wrong during the process and how to prevent or correct that possible situation.

Whether it is a seller or buyer, make sure you document. Many clients do not take our best advice. It is the client that makes the decision, even if we don't like the price, condition, terms, etc.

Posted by Sue Robertson (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 10 years ago

It's a risk I usually take... selling real estate is like a drug; nothing elicits euphoria quite like selling an "iffy" listing. Especially if it has lingered as someone else's before I get it.  The houses are the easy part-I can get excited regardless of location or condition. I won't  waste time/money staging a home for sale if the seller is totally unrealistic though. 

Posted by Teresa Coldwell (Coldwell Properties, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Every house will sell...given enough time and money! Each day brings different challenges and when you can sell that challenging listing...it validates why you are in real estate. Not just for the money, but you did what some considered "the impossible!"

Posted by Nancy Schlegel (Northwood Realty Services) over 10 years ago

You have to see all properties as opportunities or you won't stay in the business very long. If I turned down every listing that I thought had a problem, then I wouldn't have very many!

Posted by Sandy McAlpine, Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC (RE/MAX EXECUTIVE) over 10 years ago


...and we have a lot of 'blind squirrels" here in virginia looking for nuts; david b meyers, broker/owner

Meyers & McCabe Realtors, Incj

never too busy for your "nuts"

burke, fairfax, clifton, fairfax station, va


Posted by david b meyers over 10 years ago

JL - I have been rethinking my position on overpriced listings lately. I will probably be a little more flexible if they are close to the range that I am proposing. I can use more sign calls.

Posted by Mike Saunders (Lanier Partners) over 10 years ago

I'm with you on this, thanks for the thoughts.

Posted by Jay Anderson (Century 21 Cornerstone) over 10 years ago

Thanks for the post!  As  a realtively new agent my attitude is every seller needs a realtor and I want to be that realtor!  However, I have already experienced my nightmare seller, but hopefully that's out of the way for awhile now!  Got an ugly house to sell....call me!

Posted by Brenda Brown over 10 years ago

I 'd like to make 2 comments:

1- Sometimes Seller's can be closed minded in the beginning of their listing, but I never met a Seller that I could not eventually wear down over time with kindness, patience and persistence. The moral of the story is do not pass up on any listing opportunity, as Seller's eventually see the light if you work at it and show them the way.

2- I often get challenging listings in flood areas and homes that are situated right next to the railroad tracks and some have both challenges, but the amazing thing is they SELL. I will never walk away from a listing opportunity!

Posted by Sandra over 10 years ago

I work with a great broker, and when I once asked about taking an iffy listing she said " there are not many sure things in real estate, but the one thing you can be sure of is that if you don't take the listing you won't sell that house as the listing agent." Not sure what that meant, but I took the listing and sold the house.

Posted by Mike Hunter, Residential Specialist (William Raveis Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Always a good topic for pros and cons.  Thanks for the post.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) over 10 years ago

I am weighing in on the Pro side.  In this business, you have to always expect the best and prepare for the rest.

Posted by Earl Wynn (Realty Pros Of DC) over 10 years ago

This is great timing as I am sort of struggling with several possible listing proposals! Good insights!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Great post.  One of the first things that I do when talking with a seller that have high expectations for their selling price is show them the comps and the stats.  Then I explain that their house has to appraise according to lender's appraisals.  In some cases, it helps.

Posted by Sharon Bruner (The MarshallWalker.comGroup) over 10 years ago

We of course have to evaluate every listing and decide whether it is a listing that can sell and this can include whether the seller is realistic with price, making the home easy to show and of course keeping the home in showing condition.

Of course we sometimes find that even if everything appears to be fine, it does not end up that way. The seller may have said you can show the home anytime, yet then not allow it to be shown on a regular basis or any number of things change.

Should we take overpriced listings? Again it is not an easy answer. How much is it overpriced? Do they insist on trying a cerain price for a couple of weeks but say they will lower the price after a short period of time if we get no offers? Do you believe them? Do you write in automatic price reductions.

It is funny, this year I have sold three listings that most agents told me were overpriced and some said I should not have taken the listing. However, speaking with the sellers I had a feeling that they would become realistic over time. There are those you speak with that you just know they are not going to lower the price, but these people gave me the impression that they would become realistic, but it would take some time. I send regular market reports and would send emails stating that the value has gone down another 2% or whatever it is.

Those three listings sold for a total of $1,421,000. Not bad for listings that others were telling me were a waste of time.

With that said I have no problem with taking a listing and then in the middle of it firing myself. If I find the sellers do not do what they agreed to, or if I find I cannot get them to be realistic I will tell them that I am stepping down as their listing agent. They are usually shocked and sometimes just having a Realtor say that they are firing themself can make them much more realistic while others say fine and get another Realtor to market their home.

Yes, I do take some overpriced listings or where something else is not ideal. I take them based on the impression I get of the seller as I ask them questions. Their answers and facial and body signals tell me a lot. I wish all sellers would be realistic right at the beginning, but just because they are not does not mean they cannot become realistic later on. Much of it is just regular market updates and conversations over a period of time that will make them see that what you are saying is correct. When I tell a seller the proper price is say $300,000 and they want to be at $350,000 when I send them the comps that sell over a period of time and they see that they are selling where I said their home would sell at. I may then show them that sales prices are still going down and suddenly they see the light. If they do not, then I fire myself.

Posted by Jeff Launiere, Jeff Launiere (Future Home Realty) over 10 years ago

If I took a listing that's clearly overpriced and the seller won't listen to me about price and/or condition, the buyers who come aren't likely to have much confidence in me, and the people who pass by my sign in the yard for months aren't likely to want to list with me.   Add in the time and expense I'd spend on marketing, and I'd rather just say "no."   Sometimes saying that is enough to make the seller listen to reason at that time, and sometimes the seller comes back to me later in a more reasonable mood.   

In addition, I don't like the uncomfortable feeling of meeting people at a house they think is overpriced or in poor condition and if they do decide to work with me, I end up selling my client's competition.    If I can't "defend" it, I don't want to list it.

Posted by Mary Sheridan, Creative Marketing, Buyer Agency 423-943-7655 (Keller Willliams - 1033 Hamilton Place,Johnson City TN 37604) over 10 years ago

Mary, thank you for that comment, it is perfectly stated.  My friend Michael were talking about this yesterday, as he is in this position with a listing of his.  Of course, it would be the one he has to drive 2 hours to get to!  We were tossing around ideas about how to connect with the seller (actually with the buyer as well when we are on that end) and actually have them be willing to listen to advice without feeling that somehow their agent is trying to do something to their disadvantage!  I know people distrust their doctors and lawyers too, so it is not even the oft-questioned image of real estate agents at work.  Unless you have years and years of track record with someone, how do you get them to listen to you knowing you have their best interests at heart?  That would be worth something.  I'm thinking right now to prepare a little book of comments from past sellers that point out how the price thing worked when they priced it right, and use that with the sellers?  I know it's not been proven, but might be worth a try.

Posted by Edy Kizaki (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

I have an overpriced listing that just won't move.  Don't get me wrong. People love the house - but it is overpriced for this market.  Normally, I wouldn't have taken the listing.  But these are people that I have done 3 prior transactions with.  So what am I supposed to do? I was not ina position to  NOT take the listing.  They lowered the price somewhat, but they really need to bring it down another $10-15k.  Then it will sell like hot pancakes. The simply don't want to do that and they aren't motivated to sell unless they get a good price. However, they have been wonderful clients over the years -so I was truly stuck in hard place.  There are a lot of factors that go into deciding whether or not to take a listing - loyalty to a client is one of them.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 10 years ago

If I run into an unreasonable client that has pie in the sky expectations and will not pay much attention to advise, I TAKE the listing and become what I call a "sign stabber"...I stab a sign in the yard, put a lockbox on the door, put it in MLS, and good luck! I look at it like this...It may produce buyers for other listings...

Posted by Darryl Brasseur (Brasseur Realty) over 10 years ago

Great topic, and I think it is safe to say that we will never have everyone agree on the "right" answer.

For myself the quality of client means a lot.  An intelligent client who respects my service is prone to take advice over time and make adjustments in order to sell their home, even if they appear to be unrealistic when they list.  These people are more often than not a pleasure to deal with.  





Posted by Gregory Matthew (Domus Select Realty Limited) over 10 years ago

I listed a dated home owned by "know it all sellers" who insisted on a price that was too high for the market.  After two months we got an offer that was $130,000 below the list price.  I used my best negotiating scripts, a true testament for precticing scripts and dialogues, and after four days of negotiation we finalized the contract at $104,900 below list.  You never know what buyers and sellers will do and one thing I know for sure is that the more adament they are about not doing something, the more likely they are to do it.

Posted by leslie edwards over 10 years ago

You hope that after you take the listing, reality, combined with the professionalism you exhibit, will cause the sellers to come around to your way of thinking.

If after a certain period of time everything stays the same, you drop it, at least you have tried.

Posted by Terry Lynch (LAR Notary and Closing Services) over 10 years ago

Just had this discussion with a fellow colleague.  I told her to make sure the Seller understood the ramifications of an overpriced listing, i.e. chasing the market and ultimately selling for less than the home could have gotten today.  As long as the Seller understands that it will probably take longer in a declining market and possibly result in a lower sale price, then take up that billboard in the front yard and find those buyers.  Per some of other posts, also make sure that the relationship is mutually conducive.

Posted by Sid Kirkland over 10 years ago

I used to list any house I can get, and I suppose I still do to an extent, but with a house that I think is not going to sell I first judge the 'pro' side - Is it in a good location where buyers will see my sign?, can I possibly work with the sellers...they may not be willing to listen right now, but sometimes you can get them there over time.   If you like each other, and they trust you, while they may be unreasonable at the start, you can continuosly deliver the bad news in a nice way and bring them around.  

Listings generate business, its true, but if it is going to be more aggravation than its worth in commission, then learn to just say no.  I can honestly say that when I look back over the listing that I did not sell, they were generally unreasonable sellers who I did not get along with and probably should never have worked with in the first place. 

Posted by Sharon DiCarlo over 10 years ago

another factor is the actual hard cost to list a property.  By the time you add professional photography, brochure printing, and any additional marketing that you normally provide, it can easily run $500 to $1,000.

Posted by Stuart Dobson (eLoanRates.org) over 10 years ago

I agree with most others, I have been fooled several times with homes I thought would not sell be the first to go.  I try to reason with the sellers about the market and the price but if they are set on a certain price I go ahead and list it then keep showing them the current comps.  I disagree with some of the others that stated they would not try to market the home.  If you take the listing you owe it to your client to market it. If you don't plan on marketing the property you should not list it.  You may not spend the same amount as you do on your best listing but you should still do some marketing and not just forget about it.

Posted by Tony Hager, Broker (United Realty Texas) over 10 years ago

Only experience will help you decide if it is worth the time and the effort. If the home is in your market area and having that listing will increase your exposure then it may just be worth it. There have been listings that I could not sell that have produced good relationships for me with others.  Usually, most people will recognize that the listing is "a difficult sell".  If you do sell it, people think you can sell anything!

Posted by Perrin March (Coldwell Banker West Shell) over 10 years ago

Last year, I sold a very nice listing from a buyer I met through an overpriced listing.  I was doing a favor to a friend.

Posted by Tere Rottink (CoastalVa Realty Inc) over 10 years ago

Great discussion - also sometimes the listing you think won't sell will sell right away or you will get a lot of calls from it, it's hard to tell sometimes until a home's on the market.

Posted by Monica Bourgeau, Business Coaching (New Phase Business Coaching) over 10 years ago

Excellent post. I value each listing as an opportunity to have a transaction that acheives my Clients' objectives. If the listing is not priced right, for the particular time/situation, I discuss my concern with the Client, and of course it's their decision. That said, there is still may be a Buyer who makes an offer, and the Client can't bring themselves to walk away from the offer, and accepts it.This always leaves me surprised at the psychology behind the sale.


Posted by Joe Pascal (5 Star Real Estate, Inc. Wilmington, NC) over 10 years ago

I'm in the camp with those who won't take a listing if the seller is what I term "toxic."

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 10 years ago

It's not just finding a buyer who will pay the price - it generally needs an appraisal as well. If the sellers are unreasonable about the listing conditions, showings etc. - what about if inspection items need negotiating? I feel life is short, and attitude is important. The energy and negativism from one client can affect our attitude and performance to other clients. I'd turn the listing down. Quality, not quantity.

Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 10 years ago

Boy, this is such a dilemna for me. I know some agents who, knowing a home won't sell, will list it just for the exposure. In my market, you can do this because the consumers don't notice whether a home has been on the market for two years or not. They just remember the name on the sign.

I have tried it both ways: taking over-priced listings and in some cases, walking away. I have reached the following guidelines that work for me.

1. Advise. Bring proof of past sales, expireds and for sales

2. If the client is a horses a_ _ then make it perfectly clear why you won't take the listing. (Don't call him an a_ _, I mean tell them it won't sell for that amount) I don't work with people who are a drain on my psyche. I have tried it, and no amount of commission is worth it.

3. If the client is an otherwise good sort, then take the listing with a proviso that you have metrics that will tell you and the client whether the listed price is in or out of the market. You know: No ad calls. Sign calls where the inquiring party snorts or otherwise flinches when told the price. No agent showings. Then agree that the seller will adjust the price based on the metrics.

4. If the place doesn't sell, call on the seller when it expires. You may get a more reasonable seller. If not, (and this has happened to me) wait them out for another six months.

Taking an over priced listing will only work for me if I like the seller, and want to talk to them frequently, in spite of low buyer interest. Just having a sign in the yard is no good for me if I don't want to spend some time every week with the seller. I'd rather go cut firewood or mow a lawn.

Posted by Steve Toker over 10 years ago

I have taken some dogs and regret it.  It is never the property it is the owner that is the problem.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 10 years ago

I can't stand to take a listing that I'm afraid won't sell, even if the client cooperates with me. I just worry about it too much. For example, properties on bad lots or those in which the seller is upside down in today's market.

If I have an uncooperative client, then I just won't take the listing. Been there, done that--life is too short to do it again.

Great post, and I'm enjoying the comments it generated, too!



Posted by Robin Rogers, CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser (Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas) over 10 years ago

JL - I have to say that I have taken listings that I didn't feel would sell in years past, however that was at a time that I guess I didn't have many other listings.  Once an agent gets busy with listings and buyers I feel that I cannot afford the hard costs, time and effort it takes to have a listing that is not saleable.  Of course, every listing has to be evaluated on their own merits however if it's not saleable, this agent will not list it.

Posted by Lori Mode, Real Estate Made Simple (Keller Williams Realty - Elk Grove, CA Homes for Sale) over 10 years ago

All I can say is that I agree with you whole heartedly.  This may have already been said, but, if you don't take the listing, somebody else will. 


Posted by Brenda Mullen, Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!! (RE/MAX Access) over 10 years ago

Lots of success stories above of the "one that shouldn't have sold but did".  Stagers have those stories as well.  Homes that we do our very best, and walk away thinking, not gonna happen...and it does, in 8 days, or 2 weeks, or some other ridiculously good time.  Then there are the ones that are staged well, show well and are overpriced, those bother me the most, because the owner is thinking that the staging should compensate, (if they recognize that it is overpriced).  I just had one that the staging overcompensated for, but have had others that the luck factor was out to lunch...

Posted by c m over 10 years ago

I've taken some unique and/or iffy listings where there were really no comps and for the most part they didn't sell during my listing time.  Many sellers were nice but once feedback established a better price, they wouldn't listen.  One seller went through 5 agents and sold it for what I had suggested 2 1/2 years prior.

Other sellers renege on their promise to reduce and some become nasty.  That's why I have decided against taking overpriced listings.  Not worth the hassle to deal with unrealistic sellers (even when they're nice to you they're still probably blaming you for the house not selling) and I don't want my sign sitting there only to be replaced with another agent's sign when my listing expires and either I or them don't want to re-list.

Any house will sell if it is priced right for its current location and condition.  I don't mind listing ugly houses as long as they are priced correctly.  That isn't the issue.  An overpriced house is obviously not priced correctly and as a listing agent with many listings I can be choosy.

I've gone back and forth over this over the years: 1.  Take any and all listings - some will sell and my signs will be out there generating buyer calls or 2.  Don't bother with overpriced listings with unrealistic sellers - usually not a positive situation.  I am now following #2.

Posted by Judy Orr, SW & Near West Chicago suburbs (HomeSmart Realty Group) over 10 years ago

Just what I needed to read today! I'm going for one of those listings in a few minutes and appreciated being reminded of the pros and cons to both.


I agree that it's great to get another listing and I'm all for it, but the stress of having to communicate with these sellers during the listing period is almost not worth it. Sometimes I can tell if they are the type of the sellers that will finally come around, but that isn't always the case. I'm not sure how today will turn out, but after reading this, I may just have the strength to tell them no if they don't want to agree with my strategy.


Thanks again!!

Posted by Doris Ghitelman, ABR, CRS, GRI (William Raveis R.E.) over 10 years ago

Way to ride the fence.


 I use my gut feeling... I take market trends, location, and seller perception into account before I will work with any seller. If there is a shot that the home may sell, or I can get quality leads, it is a no brainer. And you never know, I have changed my sellers perception and reduced the price to make a sale or two.

Posted by Roy & Gail Barnhart & McKay, Barnhart & McKay Home Selling Team (Barnhart & McKay Realty Advisors) over 10 years ago

Our team's policy has always been to be very selective about what we will list. If we feel that we can bring value to the listing (and will enjoy the process) - we list. If not, we have a nice long list of referral agents. Sometimes it's a personality thing; sometimes the house is a problem; and sometimes we just have reached our max number of listings and we pass it on. It's great to have a happy seller who was a referral because we found them the right fit! And the referral fee still rolls in. It's a great part of our business model.


bozTEAM of village real estateSERVICES

Posted by Kimble Bosworth, bozTEAM (Proforma Printelligence) over 10 years ago

I think you have to make the decision to list or not to list based on a lot of different variables.  If someone insists on overpricing, I usually only agree to list if they agree to try their price for a certain amount of time and then post-date a price change agreement for a certain date or a certain amount at different time intervals.  I used to list anything I could get my ink on, but with the change in the market I've had to work smarter and not take listings that were costing me money and weren't going to sell. If you don't have good chemistry with the client, DON'T TAKE THE LISTING, don't be so desperate to take anyone with a pulse as your own. The problem is they may not like you and vice versa and if they don't, they'll be bad advertising and worse if you don't like them and they like you, they'll refer their friends and family who you probably won't like either. Life is so much easier when you work with clients you like!!! You don't, however, have to like their house, but that you can work with!!

Posted by Cari Rieder, Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors, Davenport, IA over 10 years ago

It's a balancing act for sure.  I will take an overpriced listing if there is also a benefit to my business. Not that I'm a WIIFM person, but I like to see a win-win situation (and I am one side of the win-win).  Is the property located in a really visible location? Am I likely to get the sign calls?  I really try to sell the idea that selling their property is a team effort.  If they want me to expend time, energy and money on their listing, they need to do the same thing.  Sometimes we work out a modified marketing program with a lower commitment on my side for the costlier advertising.  If they list within 5% of my CMA, the expense is mine.  If they insist on being more than 10% higher, then I suggest we try signage and internet marketing for the first three weeks.  If we don't generate a pre-determined number of showings which is reasonable for their property type and price range, we can then either lower the price and then I'll try some other advertising tools, or, if they insist on waiting it out, I keep them apprised of the other market activity, and we proceed on the lower budget advertising plan.  Seems to work as long as I give them plenty of feedback.

Posted by Lisa Orme over 10 years ago

A few years ago I got a referral for a listing. When I went out to meet the seller, my first thought when I saw the property was "now I know why they gave away the listing".  It was off the beaten track and was of a style I just knew would never sell.  I needed the listing at the time so I thought "why not".  It sold in 1 day!  Little did I know that there was a seller out there looking for just this style of home.  Never say never....

Posted by Anonymous over 10 years ago


In the cons, there is another variable.  Even when the buyer and seller agree on the price, the appraiser can add a new stir to the soup.

I took a listing that was 4.5% above the most recent comparable sale in a condominium townhouse complex.  The seller had done his share: new water heater, carpeting, paint, etc.  It showed beautifully.  Considering the condition of the home, I concurred that the price was probably warranted; there has been some appreciation and price recovery in this particular area, and his unit is indeed better than the comps.  We did all the marketing, traditional and internet; nothing (much) left to chance.

We found a buyer in five (5) days, negotiated the ratification in another five (5) days, and had the status "pending" at ten (10) days on the market.  Yee-ha!

Home inspection went great.  Then the appraisal report recorded a "value" equal to the last sold property in that complex, 60 days prior to our contract.  The buyer couldn't buy without the seller subsidy; the seller couldn't sell without a net amount that would support his pending purchase.  Bummer, Dude.

I had the opportunity to take a listing today at 12% above the last comparable in its neighborhood.  What do you think I did?


Posted by Denny Phipps (NVFH) over 10 years ago

When the seller has an unrealistic price for their home in their head, sometimes it is better to be the second agent to get the listing.  Let the first agent "try" the expensive price and have to beat them up on it (since they were the ones who agreed to list it that high) and when the seller wants to try a "new" strategy you can come in with the real price and get it sold.  Highly over-priced listings do tend to make the listers look bad. 

Posted by Gary and Shannon Kiernan, Cave Creek Arizona Real Estate Blog (Dominion Real Estate Partners) over 10 years ago

JL - This is a timely post for me.  There is a Walk-Away point for every house.  Figuring out that point is difficult at times. 

Posted by Erik Hitzelberger, Louisville - Middletown Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance - Louisville REALTOR-Luxury Homes) over 10 years ago

Experience has taught me is it best to be the second or the third listing agent on those difficult listings.  By then, the Sellers are more realistic about their price and maybe they finally understand that the repairs need to be made or the dog needs to be boarded or they need to keep the house in apple pie order all the time in order for a Buyer to find their house appealing.

Posted by Lynda Hester (Prudential Georgia Realty - Rabun County, Ga.) over 10 years ago

I took a listing about 3 weeks ago that I had fought for 2 months to get into decent shape and knew the Seller wanted to overprice by about $15K (5%).  He knew what he knew and knew he was right, despite the comps and stats to the contrary.  Amazingly enough, in the first 3 weeks he's initiated two price reductions himself - I guess time's suddenly shown up to be more important than money.  Works for me!  One more price reduction and the darn thing will sell.

Maggie White, Tacoma, WA

Posted by Maggie White over 10 years ago

One pro that was not mentioned is that over time the sellers start to see it your way. I have had countless listings where they were overpriced in the beginning and after a few months they lower the price and presto--I then sell it.  I have also been stupid at times to refuse a listing which then goes to another Realtor who has it overpriced. Often it never gets to expired as they lowered the price or took a low offer and that Realtor sells it not me. I am now the agent who will take any listing but I am always up front with my sellers with the price I feel it should be at. If they don't like my price but want to start higher I always say...We can start at YOUR price but if after a few months with little or no serious activity then we need to start working our way down to MY price. These seems to work and has made me a few extra deals versus letting some other agent get the listing and the eventual sale.



Posted by Alex Lengemann (RealtyVolution.com) over 10 years ago

Every listing opportunity is different but one thing they all have in common for Real Estate Professionals is that they are a business proposition.  Assuming we are all in business to make a profit (as I am), the elements of the listing opportunity must be evaluated based on a number of variables - Seller will work with you, against you or remain passive - Seller expectations with regard to proceeds of sale relative to established market values - Marketability in terms of curb appeal, condition, location and features - The market conditions as far as average DOM for comparable homes - Financing available for the type property - etc.  If after evaluation of these factors I determine it would be a profitable endeavor, I take the listing - if not, I decline or refer the listing to an agent who has a different approach and likes a challenge.

Posted by Dave Sharman (Windermere Sequim East) over 10 years ago

JL, Good topic my friend.

I recently took a listing and it's over priced for sure and I told the seller it will not sell for 'His' price. The reason I listed it anyway way was it's zoned Commercial and it's on a major street. I put up two signs and listed it for a year.

Have received some good sign calls.

Posted by Cameron Wilson, The Short Guy - Murrieta,Temecula,Menifee Californ (Labrum Real Estate) over 10 years ago

As long as you recognize what you are listing (eg: location-challenged, condition-challenged, etc.) and you can price it properly, it will sell.  In order to do this, you need reasonable sellers.  Others have said it, as well - - if the Seller won't work with me, then why would I spend many hours and many dollars trying to work with them?  An unsold listing isn't a very good commercial for my work.

Posted by TERRY DRISCOLL, REALTOR - Buy or Sell in Any Season! (MAINE HOME REALTY) over 10 years ago

If you are a professional and are not desperate to have buyer calls you would not need to take an overpriced listing. It is just that simple. Realtors who make a good living and are great at what they do don't set themselves up for failure.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 10 years ago

JL...  Every listing is a case unto itself.  One needs to rid it out, until you have to say to yourself is it time to let it go?  But you never know if this listing was seen by someone who wants to sell their house and calls you to do so, just by the advertising you have done on this one.

Also, JL.. you might want to check out your weblink

My Columbia, SC Real Estate Blog www.ColumbiaSCRealEsateblog.com

 In the web link you have estate spelt wrong.. is this an oversight?

valerie osterhoudt

Posted by Valerie Osterhoudt, ABR, Cromwell, CT Real Estate ~ 860.883.8889 (Johnson Real Estate, Inc.) over 10 years ago

This debate seems to go on and on. The yard sign will get you calls. It is sort of "free advertising". The only drawback is if you are spending too much on marketing the house. But when all is said and done I think the listing is one step closer to the sales.

Posted by Anonymous over 10 years ago

When all is said and done, it is better to get the lising. The only drawback would be if you have to spend too much money on marketing the property.

Posted by Steve Andrascik (Lake Mead Area Realty) over 10 years ago

I had an acquaintance, who wanted to list their home with me, ask me why I would not take the listing at about 20% over where it needed to be.  My answer was "Because I'm not going down a long sad road with you."

I don't take overpriced listings.  It's just me.  I just don't.  I work way too hard on my listings to waste my time.

However, I do take listings that I think are a tough sell.  Sometimes you can price it right but it is a unique, specialized home, which limits appeal.  Sometimes there are just no buyers in the market in  a certain price range.  I try to be tactfully honest that marketing will be a challenge.

I don't see price as the be all and end all.  Sometimes you can price it right but it still does not sell.  However, I won't knowingly list an overpriced property.


Posted by Margaret Mitchell, Seacoast Maine & NH Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Yorke Realty) over 10 years ago

A listing is always worth your time if you have the time to make it work for you. I have gathered countless buyers from sitting in my open houses instead of having another agent do it for me. Even if that house doesn't work for a a particular buyer coming through, you've already done the CMA, why not offer to show them something else in the neighborhood or surrounding area?

Posted by Stephanie Kaufman over 10 years ago

I have been lucky that I have been able to get all my sellers to the right price. Not saying they all sold at that price...but there is a buyer out there for everything. I have taken some that made the other agents in my office roll their eyes but they have all sold. I took one this summer that is in an area that is famous for 3 year+ timelines but thanks to creative financing it's going under contract in just over 2 months! (I am that good)

Posted by Sarah Pearce (eXp Realty LLC) over 10 years ago

Like everyting else, there are pros and cons.  The choice will be driven by your business plan.

Posted by Dora & Vincent Kwok, CNE - Chandler, Arizona Real Estate (HomeSmart Real Estate) over 10 years ago

We once listed a house built in 1923 and never upgraded. Tin sheeting roof, sitting on pylons with crawl space, in about the same shape as the share-cropper houses I lived in as a boy in Mississippi. It sold, and in a reasonable time. I think we tend to decide to take a listing based more on our read of the owner rather than the property.

Posted by Denver Johnson (West USA Realty, Mesa AZ) over 10 years ago

Well, I am a fan of telling the Seller the truth and not what they want to hear.  I feel like life is to short to just take any listing on ... I would rather leave that to the rookie agent, or someone who has all the time on their hands to do so.   I believe in growing a crop of homes that will actually sell, rather trying to harvest dying inventory.  That's my take on this!  Great article! 

Posted by Cherise Selley, Colorado Springs Realtor (Selley Group Real Estate, LLC) over 10 years ago

"......Once and a while even a blind squirrel finds a nut...."

This is exactly why I never turned down a listing. If it's such a pain you can always fire your seller! I take great pride in the fact that when every home I've ever listed has sold for what I recommended either with my help or not. How many times have frustrated sellers canceled listings with you only to list with an inferior agent and get it sold for your original recommendations or less! It happens to me less now because I spend a ton of time upfront on educating the seller then I give them a choice: "Well if it doesn't sell at this price would you agree to reduce the price to my recommendations?" The answer will tell you whether your seller is serious or not and you can decide whether to bail right there.......I never take an overpriced listing though, only homes priced near or at my recommendations within say 5%.

Posted by Noel Padilla, CDPE (J. Luis Properties, Inc.) over 10 years ago

After taking a listing like that, you'll have a Taylor Swift experience. You'll be excited, then you see some buyers and get more excited then the market pulls a Kanye West on you, and then you're not excited anymore. At some point, your For Sale sign is saying to the neighbors and the world: "I can't sell this." "I still can't sell this." And if your name rider is prominent, the sign says: "Yep, this is ME , I'm the one who can't sell this! List with me and I won't sell your home either!"

More damage is done, and more time is wasted getting the rare 'acorn' than spending the same time prospecting for, and marketing a real listing.

Posted by David Knox (David Knox Productions, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Right now I would say take them all unless you come across something that you are sure will not sell.  Like some manufactured homes that were overpriced and financing would be impossible. Over priced for an investor and the average mobile home buyer couldn't get a mortgage. So, I turned them down. 

But really in our market, you never know what is going to sell.  Many homes that many agents think would sell quickly have stayed on the market.  Then others who you thought wouldn't sell, sell in 30 days. 

Posted by Kim Peasley-Parker (AgentOwned Realty, Heritage Group, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Fascinating topic & one I hope to blog about

Posted by Tina Gleisner, Home Tips for Women (Home Tips for Women) over 10 years ago

Oh, wow.  I'm in my 4th year as an agent in a town where I didn't know a soul.  So I have taken whatever chunks I have been thrown.  Until now.  If it's not a match for ME personally, I don't do it.  Those are rare however because I can work with almost anyone.  I have to use different methods for different personalities.  Then there are 'those' that just don't get it.  No need for those headaches today.  It's more about the person than the property for me.  Thanks so much for your openminded pros and cons.  Good stuff.

Posted by Nicole Anderson over 10 years ago

There are times in the past, that I have listed a property that I would have been better off walking away from.  It is usually the pricing.  However, in my 8.5 year career I usually list every property, work closely with the sellers giving them feedback and if their motivation is there, they usually respond.  If they don't I follow up on all leads generated from the listing to work either buyers or sellers.  I think it depends on your book of business and how you approach it.  I like to have a mixed inventory and I have sold homes that I thought I would never sell.  Let's face it, there is an element of luck and timing in real estate, especially when it comes to selling a home. 

For instance, I had a high end property that took fourteen months to sell, with a difficult client.  The client felt they were more educated about real estate then myself and my partner.  However, in the end we sold the listing, another listing down the road.  We received two listings from the buyers and some good leads.  Ya just never know, do ya?


Posted by Diane Malagreca over 10 years ago

There are two reasons I find agents taking property listings under these circumstances: 1) to meet production quotas (to get that "Tops In Listings" category) and 2) Visibility.  Neither are rational, since it does a disservice to the seller.  Over priced listings are nothing new to real estate, but the behavior of agents who take on listings they know will not sell are truly misrepresenting their customers by taking on these listings in the first place, has no place in our profession.

Will it stop? Not a chance, because this is the way some agents feel they can be productive: hoping that ads of "Tops in Listings!" will push both buyers and sellers their way, not to mention the endless number of yard signs on these over priced properties just may peak a buyers interest, possibly pushing them to another property. 


Posted by Mike Sikorski, MBA, GRI, CRS (Realty One Group) over 10 years ago

Great Post and Great Comments!  Unless the home is grossly overpriced ... I believe there are more pros than cons ... for instance ... picking up new business at Open Houses.  I have a listing that is overpriced, let the sellers know my opinion on market value, said we'd give it a shot and assess activity (or lack thereof) and price in 30 days and picked up a buyer at my first Open House there.

Posted by Diane Zorich over 10 years ago

JL --- WOW --- I don't think I have seen these many comments on a post that was not featured.  I will have to come back and read all the comments -- I have a very solid point on this issue --- I recommend that you take all listings as long as it is not ridiculously overpriced.  When I was listing, I never turned down a listing.

         Mama Liz

Posted by Liz Loadholt, Realtor--Broker-in-charge - Trainer--Relocation Director Covering SC (Liz Loadholt- AgentOwned Realty- Covering SC) over 10 years ago

In a good market, it is still a good way to get buyers.

Posted by Jirius Isaac, Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA (Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage) over 10 years ago

I just play it by ear...You never know what will sell. My first broker always said list to last. It's a numbers game and I tend to agree.

Posted by Sandra Watkins (RE/MAX Town & Country) over 10 years ago

Given the way the housing market is today when compared to several years ago, I would think that as Realtors why wouldn't we want to take on anything we can when it's presented to us?  A client is a client as well as an opportunity to do our job.  if you're someone who has the option of picking and choosing the type of listing you want to work with then I applaud you for having so much business that you are able to do that.  However, I would assume that the majority of agents across the country may not be in that position and welcome all clients whether they're buying or selling. 

I am currently listing a home that after my visit this past weekend, I honestly could not believe people acutally live in this home.  It is in total despair and requires much needed help.  Can you imagine trying to take photos of a home that you just cannot find one hint of marketability within it?  I took 18 pictures and of those only 8 were good enough to post on our local MLS.  However, to the sellers, it's home.  It's a place where they are sheltered from the storm and kept warm during the cold.  So, although my personal feelings are far more different, this can be a home to someone who is willing to see the overall potential. 

However, I do agree that if a client is being difficult or unreasonable with their demands when you are taking on their listing, then by all means do whatever you need to do to.  Many sellers are led to believe that they can get top dollar for their home based on outside influences.  Which in turn can make our jobs much more difficult when trying to share with them market sales and comparables.  However, I agree with another realtors post here that persistence is important.  We all know our selected markets and the comparable sales within them.  If a client questions our directives and goes against those factual information and still shows signs of unreasonableness to listing their home for sale then I feel that perhaps they may be best served by someone else who is willing to work with someone of that magnitude. 

It's hard enough as it is to acquire clients to fill up that pipeline.  Spending wasteful time on a client who won't listen to your professional expertise and experiences only adds to your already challenging and stressful workload.  As I've learned from my PB when it comes to certain clients...his motto is: "SOME WILL, SOME WON'T, SO WHAT?  WHO'S NEXT?"

Not everyone can or should be helped even though we want to do our best in servicing them.  Always keep your guard up anytime you see a listing that has been on the market for several months and/or if the listing is going through multiple agents to try and sell it.  That should be a hint for you that perhaps the sellers are a bit hard to please and work with. 


Posted by Michael H. Sasano (Kama'aina Realty, LLC) over 10 years ago

JL - it depends. It depends on the condition of the house, the motivation of the sellers, and the location of the house. If we believe we can work with the Sellers to get it where it needs to be, then we sometimes take the listing. Sometimes not. Great post and great discussion!

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) over 10 years ago

Granted, there are the pros as you mentioned.  If you, as a professional in your field, feel a property is not saleable,  you are not doing the Seller justice by taking the listing.  If every Realtor was ourtirght honest with Sellers, they would have to come to grips with their predicament (price, condition, etc.)  Obviously, they can't change the location, but there are many factors a Seller can work with to help with the sale.  The stress put on an agent to sell an unsaleable property will drive most out of this business. 

Posted by Marty Erlandson (Erlandson Realty) over 10 years ago

I certainly enjoyed your Pros and Cons on the subject of whether to List or not....I've had (2) Listings that fit the a...During an Open House, I met and worked with a Buyer who lived in the neighborhood and was looking for a larger Home... (5,000+ s.f. $1,275,000 Price Range)..After a bit of Research, I found their New Home and received a very nice Commission of $30,000+...The 2nd Listing, A Buyer called on the sign and though they could not afford the Home that I was listing, I was able to find a home within their Price Range ...A $6,000+ Commission...I think All Listings are an opportunity to meet new Buyers and Market yourself as a Realtor.

Posted by Sandi Castor over 10 years ago

With a very real reality, homes that are too high priced are essentially a place for the list agent to hang the sign to procure prospective buyers that will most likely buy something that is priced right.

Therefore the pro---This property is a marketing vehicle.

If a list agent does not need a marketing vehicle of this type, then it may behoove the list agent to take a retainer that would be refunded back to the seller at successful COE.  Yes, that means that the list agent will do things "their way" and if "their way" does not work, it will cost the seller, not the hard working list agent's time, money, effort, reputation.

Therefore the pro---This property is a vehicle for Realtor "keep afloat" monies. 

If neither of the two can apply, then NEXT!

Thanks all in ActiveRain Land!

Posted by Julia St. Marie, ABR, RRG, RSPS (UNITED REALTY GROUP) over 10 years ago

No doubt your pros and cons are very true.

I once took a listing that "I" felt would not sell since the home (rather shack) was tenanted and clutterred. t needed tonnes of renovation and Sellers wanted to price it at market values of good homes in that neighbourhood. I was surprised to have received so much interest in the property and I sold it in 10 days. It however did nt close since the bank pulled the mortgage from the buyers last minute. I relisted it again and it sold for same price again in another 2 weeks.

Since then, every listing opportunity I get, I take. To me, I only see the pro side of it...

Posted by Rajeev Narula, My Services Are All About You! (iPRO REALTY LTD.,Brokerage) over 10 years ago

My thoughts on this it all just depends.

Why I would take it:

1)  If I felt it was in a great location where I could get a lot of sign calls.  I don't care if I believe it's overpriced.

2)  If it was very expensive.  Would you take a listing that comps said 1.5 million and they want 2 mill.  I would simply to try to start penetrating that market.  (We can debate the effectiveness of this strategy, but I think it would be easier than not).

3)  If I wasn't that busy.  Our time is our biggest resource.

Why I wouldn't take it

1)  If the people were jerks.  Life is to short to deal with this in this industry.  If they are unrealistic about pricing, but decent people, make up your own mind.

2)  This is very, very, very important NEVER, NEVER, NEVER EVER take an overpriced listing in a area that you farm. 

If you do take one, make sure you tried to get them to price it right and set their expectations correctly.

Posted by Mike Henderson, HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848 (Your complete source for buying HUD homes) over 10 years ago

When I would shy away from taking a listing would be when the seller clearly wasn't going to be cooperative, AND when he or she spent a lot of time bad-mouthing a previous agent.

This person will put roadblocks in your way at every turn, ignore your advice, and very possibly become verbally abusive. No one needs that kind of hassle.

In addition, the negative word-of-mouth advertising you can get from dealing with that kind of person can do you a lot of damage. The risk isn't worth the time and effort to hope that the "luck factor" will get you a sale.


Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 10 years ago

When you take a listing overpriced you set your seller and yourself up for failure. You, the agent are going to spend you time and you hard earned money to market the listing. Sure, you might get the buyer calls. Everytime we take a listing and the seller prices the house right it sells, when they overprice it sits. There is also something else to take into consideration, if you were to sell it at overpriced ~ will it appraise?

Posted by Sandy Childs, Realtor - Spartanburg, SC (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

JL. I prefer not to wast my time. I know that it is free advertising. However, my time could produce twice the results from REAL listings.

Posted by Mark Velasco, Top Producing COMMERCIAL Team 30+ years experience (Sharpstone Commercial) over 10 years ago


Good morning. Sue [#22] and David [#26] covered it well, though there are some other well though replies ...and while my Father sometimes say 'there is one born ever minuet', we still need [and should be able] to look people in the eyes, and rest our head with a clean heart and mind.

Steven Zimmerman Realtor ABR GRI / Prudential Best Realty, Inc. / GULF HARBORS - on Florida's Gulf of Mexico - Resident, Waterfront Specialist & Developer's Representative http://retaggr.com/page/StevenZimmerman

Posted by Steven Zimmerman, Husband & Father, @Gulf_Harbors Resident Realtor (Belloise Realty Tropical ) over 10 years ago

I once went to a listing presentation, and the seller would not budge off of what she wanted to list the house for. It was very over priced. We talked about it, and I decided to take the listing, but received a retainer fee upfront for the marketing costs that would be incurred. It did not sell, but we understood that it may not. The seller really wanted to just test the market, and did not need to sell her home.

Posted by Renee Thompson (Premier Sotheby's International Realty) over 10 years ago

I think I agree with most of you here.  I'm not a big fan of taking overpriced listings, but if the owner insists on a certain starting price, I'll simply write in specific price reductions into the listing agreement.  BUT, even if it is priced to high, any listing can be a fabulous magnet for buyers. 

I generate enormous amounts of buyer leads by utilizing an 800 number on each listing.  Many times I will have closed 2-3 sales from the buyer leads before the listing even gets an offer.  The more exposure we get, the better, so like most of you here I have a hard time turning down any listing.

Now a fixer-upper in a bad neighborhood for $20k?  Those are easy to let go.  But an overpriced $500k home in a great neighborhood?  Bring it on!!!!

Posted by Matt Robinson, www.professionalinvestorsguild.com (Professional Investors Guild) over 10 years ago

If the seller is not willing to listen to your advice and get the house into selling condition and price it right, you should just walk away. You are just going to lose your time and your money.

Posted by David Painter (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

  If the home is a real fixer-upper and the price reflects that and the seller is okay with everything, why not take the listing. We've helped investors buy them, fix them up, then flip them, so there is truly a market for every type of home for every type of person.

   On the other hand, we've walked away from several listing appts./listings that the seller's are not willing to change anything, nor take a price reduction to reflect the outdated/dilapidated condition. "You're Fired!" Not always easy to do, but very necessary at times.


Posted by Gary Wolter over 10 years ago

Great debate topic. I do believe there is a buyer for every seller - it sometimes is just a really long road to get there. The only reason not to take a listing, IMO, is if personalities clash. Otherwise, even if the listing is overpriced you can work with the seller to educate them as to the realities of the marketplace.

Posted by Kathie Burby, REALTOR, SFR, Tuolumne County Real Estate Guide (Coldwell Banker Mother Lode Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Hi JL,

This is a subject we Realtors deal with all the time.  Truth be told, there is no textbook answer to the question "To List or Not to List"?  I used to subscribe to the theory of "EVERY listing is a good listing" . When the market was a strong seller's market, this theory proved fruitful.  Now that it is a buyer's market and inventory is high, I am pickier and would rather walk away than have a perpetual for sale sign on a property. I'll get the listing when it expires and the sellers are more realistic. It is bad for local advertising if you cannot sell a house. I suppose for internet marketing purposes, all listings drive buyers to you. The bottom line is you truly hurt yourself if the house is on the market for too long. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule :).

Thanks for some good food for thought JL.  

Jeana Cowie, Re/Max Real Estate Ltd., Bergen County, NJ


Posted by Jeana Cowie, Broker Associate, ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES (RE/MAX Real Estate Limited) over 10 years ago

Very interesting comments.  Especially those who still feel that being selective in today's housing market crisis is an acceptable form of conducting business.  I know of several agents in my state who are thirving even in today's rough market through their referral contacts who they've built up over the years.  Many of whom are still making well over $250,000/year since 1999.  When I asked one particular agent who has been in real estate for over 29 years, she clearly stated that when she started making decent money after about 5 years into the business, she felt that she garnished enough credentials to warrant in being selective on who she wanted to represent.  However, 24 years later she feels very blessed to have undergone every aspect of a real estate transaction from crappy listings and difficult/unrealistc clients to multi-million dollar buyers and very co-operative sellers.  This is a quote from a local agent who wishes to remain annonymous. 

"Everyone wants easy deals and frown upon those that are remotely challenging in some way.  Not many agents will gladly accept a challenge in order to test their skills and resources to get the job done and help out a client in need."  "I guess that's one reason why I've been able to remain one of the top agents in our state whereas many others have since left the business." "I'm one of those agents that will gladly take on a listing no matter how difficult I think it will be.  The harder the transaction the more fun it is for me to grow as an agent.  This is a business where you never stop learning but one that when done right by those you help, will reward you many times over". 


Posted by Michael H. Sasano (Kama'aina Realty, LLC) over 10 years ago

Holy cow JL!!!  this is comment number 116!  You are so right, there are pros and cons.  I do think, if you have a lot of listings, perhaps it's best not to take one you know won't sell.  But if you do not have any listings, or just a few, you could get lucky and catch a buyer call or an internet lead on the listing that makes you money, even if the original listing doesn't sell. 

Posted by Susan Mangigian, Chester & Delaware County Homes, Delaware and Ches (RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A) over 10 years ago

the luck factor counts for something - I agree

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC (Keller Williams Capital Properties) over 10 years ago


Sandy #25 said it really good.

I think of problem listings as challenges. If I get them closed I win the challenge! Not to mention all the referrals that come later...


Posted by Bill Lumpp, Realtor, GREEN (Century 21 The Combs Company) over 10 years ago

I've written price adjustment in the initial contract.  IE: In 15 days we will adjust the price to----.  In another 30 days we will adjust the to -----. That way you have the conversation upfront about pricing. 

I tell clients it is my job to "test the market" if the home is not selling the market is telling us the home is overpriced.

They are listening to the market , how can you argue with the numbers?




Posted by Linda Lohman, Former Teacher/Broker (Fonville Morisey Realty) over 10 years ago



I just took a listing for a great property in the FiDi area of New York City.  A studio in a super high end building.  My client is a good guy...his issue though is that he needs to sell for a certain price so that he does not need to go into his own pocket at the closing to pay his mortgage balance.  He and I both get the dilemma that exists here, and he is willing to judge me more by my efforts rather than by results.  (though efforts alone does not produce revenues).  So I hope that the pros outweigh the cons on this one...time will tell...but is a chance i am willing to take.



Posted by Rich Bouchner, New York City Real Estate (Bouchner & Co. Real Estate (Rich Bouchner)) over 10 years ago

I like how you listed the pros and cons.  There will always be the challenges in real estate.

Posted by Kathy Booth, Setting the Stage, Home Staging and ReDesign Professional (Setting the Stage) over 10 years ago

JL, there's an ass for every saddle too I've heard.  I have just recently turned down a listing for just that reason, I didn't think that he would sell in the next 6 months.  Should I have thought longer?  Yikes!

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 10 years ago

To List or Not List? 

Is that Sheakspeare? No! It's Real Estate Speak! My Bad!! Truthfully, "To List or Not To List" is purely a matter of strategy. 


Are you taking the Listing for the sake of taking the Listing in order  to satisfy your window dressing? Or, are you taking the Listing for the purpose of Lead Generation, namely: Sign Calls? Or, are you taking for your "inventory stock pile"? Or are you taking the listing because your business plan is telling you that you need one more listing to satisfy your annual goal requirements? Lastly are you taking this Listing because you are trying to be a good real estate provider? 

I am sure that we can come up with countless reasons to consider a listing. But, are we in the business to provide genuine, reliable and honest real estate services? Yes! I, am being emphatic on the term "honest".

As a Realtor®, you should know whether or not you are going to do a service for this Seller by taking the Listing or not taking it. Your statistics should help you do the right thing on behalf of your prospective client. If you know strategically whether or not the property will sell, you should be honest enough with the seller by demonstrating  statistically what  might or might not happen if the house is listed since Real Estate is not always exact.  The area in question may not be typically an area that moves properties as well as another area less than three miles away; and not to mention overall market condition compounded by drive-by real estate media shootings. For a Realtor® to entice a seller into giving up the listing with such forethought is not the right thing to do. 20 calls and 234 Days-On-Market later, what are you going to say?

But no offense to this writer, this my case and point:

"If I think that the location is good and that I will get a lot of calls from the sign I'll probably take it. And who knows, you might get a deal too." Lots of calls don't necessarily sell homes. 


That's one of the typical mindset that placates another Listing in the Expired or Withdrawn statistical columns. As a result, One Realtor® gets blamed for their house not selling another Realtor® appearing to be a hero as clearly illustrated by the aforementioned comments.

Posted by J. R. Adam (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

Very timely post in light of tougher times for some real estate agent. I recently listed a house where I had difficulty getting the seller to listen to agree to my pricing strategy. Guesss what? 90 days later its still unsold and the highest priced listing in the area. If I had it to do over, I would have fought more to get her to understand the implication of incorrect pricing.

Posted by Bernadine Hunter over 10 years ago

I think it is critical to get an agreed pricing strategy.  If you list the house without the right expectations it will be frustrating for you and the seller.

Posted by Lisa Matykiewicz (United Brokers Group) over 10 years ago

I find that every listing gets a phone call no matter what. As for "bad clients" I know I have a "special" personality and if the seller and I don't click, I referthem to someone else so I don't get trashed by the seller later, Often after the other agents have not sold the house the seller comes back to me and "deals" with my "special" personality with a open mind.

If the house sell with the other agent I get a referral fee, Win win I say.

Posted by Anonymous over 10 years ago

I'm in this situation right now. I took a listing that I'm not 100% sure about because the seller may need to go lower than he can stomach. It's worth a chance and it's in my farm area so we're doing all we can. Who knows?!

Posted by Beverly of Bev & Bob Meaux, Where Buying & Selling Works (Keller Williams Suburban Realty) over 10 years ago

Sometimes a listing won't sell. I usually take it and do my best to get it sold but most often that means educating the seller about the market. Sellers have 2 things that they can control: price & presentation. If it isn't selling, you need to make it more attractive in one or more of these areas.


Posted by Bob Krus over 10 years ago

Whether it sales or expires, it's always a relief when all is said and don!!

Posted by Darlene Taylor over 10 years ago

This is a really good post, JL! I have often wondered why some agents take listings that are not appealing in any way. They are either overpriced, or have absolutely no appeal to potential buyers. There are definitely pros and cons. I'm a homestager and that's why I'm so interested in this subject.

Posted by Suzanne Metz (Design to Appeal) over 10 years ago