Confessions of Home Sellers: What They Want You To Know

Kelly Crawford


When you are looking at homes for sale in Orinda or negotiating a sale price, it can be easy to forget that there is another human being on the other end of the transaction. The home selling process is not just a mirror of home buying. It is its own unique animal with challenges and stresses that affect those involved and the decisions they make.

Possessing an understanding of the seller’s position can give you an edge over other buyers. Working through your agent, you can ascertain the seller's objectives, timeline, and concerns, then employ that knowledge to present yourself as a more attractive buyer. Don't know where to start? Read on.

Selling while moving is an emotional limbo

It is common for sellers to be in the midst of shopping for their next home, even as they are trying to sell their current one. This incurs obvious stresses such as juggling transactions and money concerns. Most of all, it leaves many sellers in a position of insecurity and uncertainty. That can heighten a seller's emotions and make them more difficult to work with. It can also cause them to have an overstated reaction to simple requests or concerns.

If an Orinda home seller is dependent on proceeds from the sale to buy their next home, it can exacerbate fears regarding both sale price and timing. Presenting such a seller with a laundry list of repairs can easily sour a deal. Or, if they have yet to even find a home, they may worry about closing too quickly or need to negotiate a rent-back as part of the sale.

Of course, having a better understanding of a seller's position is in your own best interests as well. This knowledge can help you to craft an offer that both meets your needs and the seller's. It can also inform how much effort you put into negotiations. Whether it is a matter of timing or money, if there are aspects of the sale where your needs and the seller's needs are unresolvable, it may be time to move on.

Avoid last-minute cancellations

Every time a buyer schedules a showing for an occupied home, it represents an investment of time and effort for the seller. Even a seller who maintains their Orinda home in a relatively ready state will have to remove personal items and do a quick clean. In addition, the seller will need to remove themselves, family members, and pets before the home is shown.

As a result, when a buyer cancels a showing at the last minute or simply does not bother to show, they have not just inconvenienced the real estate agent. Respecting the seller's time and canceling well in advance is simply the polite thing to do. It will also leave a better impression on the seller if you change your mind in the future and decide to make an offer on the home.

Shoppers are welcome, gawkers are not

Do not waste anyone's time on a home in which you are not really interested. Sellers will appreciate this, and so will your agent. In the modern world, you can often take virtual video tours of homes or, at the very least, look through photos. The showing should be an opportunity to verify the things you cannot tell from the listing, not your first impression of the home.

Do not schedule a showing for a home if the asking price is well above any offer you are willing to make. This is not a TV show, and it is unlikely you will negotiate the buyer down by more than a few percentage points. If it becomes clear a home is not for you during a showing or open house—particularly if you are not the only buyer present—feel free to excuse yourself and refrain from making any comments about the home that may be over the line.

Sellers and their homes deserve basic respect

Be honest about faults you see in the home, but do not go overboard with criticisms in the belief it will help in later negotiations. While negative feedback is to be expected from buyers, unnecessary or insulting criticisms are not. This is all the more true at open houses or any situation where other buyers are present. Be honest, but consider whether you are stating facts about the home and its condition or if you are simply being disparaging.

A buyer who is overtly disrespectful of a home—whether in word or deed—can turn sellers off. It is expected that buyers will want to look around the home and peek into every corner, but some sellers may have rules you are expected to follow, such as removing your shoes inside the home. You do not want the seller or their agent to remember you as the buyer who left tracks through the living room.

The process can be intimidating for sellers

As a savvy home buyer, you are going to shop around for a real estate agent and find one who makes the process as painless as possible. You know that navigating the home buying process is too involved and complex to trust just anyone. You have an agent who can demystify the endless acronyms associated with real estate transactions—ARV, MLS, CMA—and remove the intimidation factor from negotiations and closings.

Your seller may not be in such a positive position. Do not assume that a seller who is hesitant or struggling with communication is at fault. They may simply be overwhelmed by the process and lack an agent who knows how to make it easier for them. Lean on your own agent's experience in such situations, and do not let a potential misunderstanding spoil the deal.

Find an agent sellers can work with

When you are ready to look at homes for sale in Orinda, the right real estate agent will be much more than a smooth talker who sells you on their charm. An agent with knowledge, experience, and professional integrity, such as Kelly Crawford, has what it takes to not simply win you over at the moment but win for you in the long run.

*Header photo courtesy of Kelly Crawford


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