What’s Mean and Grey and Stupid All Over?

There are dragons lurking in the dark recesses of your property listing.  Mean dragons.  Scaly, grey, mean dragons that might rise up out of their lairs and go all Godzilla on your potential showings if left unchecked.

And what, pray tell, is the name of these marauding reptiles?

“REALTOR Remarks”

Ah yes, that hobgoblin of good intentions in the multiple listing service that provides for private communication amongst local Realtors.  It gives me a good shudder just to type the name of the foul beast.  Suburban legend has it that if you say it three times in front of the bathroom mirror with the lights off, you will doom yourself to a lonely stint on the market.  Why?  Because the private portion of the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service which is intended to impart “eyes only” information to the Real Estate sales force is home to some of the most spectacular lapses in judgment this side of New Coke.

“Do not approach cage, monkey will bite!”

“Disregard water damage in hall bathroom shower.”

“Bring me an offer, seller needs to sell NOW!!!”

From the laughable (“House is better than pictures make it look”) to the horrific breaching of client confidentiality (“Divorce situation: husband not cooperative”), one little notation in the private remarks of the listing can torpedo the price you command for your home, if not endanger the sale altogether.  Alarm codes, additional showing instructions, agent to agent disclosures – all are intended fodder for the REALTOR Remarks section.  The mistake that is often made, however, is that anything goes so long as it remains hidden from the prying eyes of the public.

The moral of the story?  Read the full property listing before your agent inputs it into the MLS. While you will most likely view a copy of the completed listing once it hits the system, you will not be able to see what is privately disclosed to other agents.  You will want to see a copy of the FULL listing to ensure that your best interests have not been compromised by a few careless words.

You priced the home well, staged it to look its best, had it professionally photographed, toured and dispersed to the far reaches of the Internet.  Don’t blow it now, kid.

Of course, if you want me to avoid your home like the plague, make sure your agent denotes that it “smells kind of funky, but no known presence of mold.”

In the mood to receive offers that are 50% below your list price?  Instruct your agent to notify fellow Realtors to “Bring me any offer and I’ll get it accepted!”

Unless the Stargate in the study presents a clear and present danger to those who would tour your home, best not to mention the possible credit for intergalactic species remediation.

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  • A good caution for sellers, Paul. My number one jaw dropper is the simple sounding “Seller needs to sell now.” That one statement has totally given away the seller’s negotiating position. One can just smell the desperation, Even worse – seeing that in the public remarks. Buyers will circle like sharks, biting away at the price. Tsk.
    Thanks for the monkey line. That cracked me up!
    Elaine Hanson´s last blog post ..Help Kickoff the Topanga Acoustic Music Series

  • I wish I could take credit for the monkey line, Elaine. That was an actual remark that I found in the MLS last week. It was actually the impetus for this post. Like you, though, the most troubling disclosures to me are those that give away the client’s leverage. I’ll gladly use any loose lipped remark to my buyer’s advantage, but I can’t help but cringe. To give the listing agent the benefit of the doubt, there are no doubt occasions in which he/she has been instructed to advertise motivation to produce a quick sale. There are no doubt also occasions in which such proclamations represent a betrayal of trust.

  • The most common one I see in those remarks is the “Seller is highly motivated” or “seller will consider ANY offer” type of offers. Amazingly when my investors low-ball those…they don’t seem to go anywhere. Then the second most common use is to clarify showing instructions such as “dog in garage, don’t open door” kind of things.

    My sellers get to see a copy of the MLS listing because the fact is that I am human and have hit the wrong check box on entry. Gotta make sure I don’t say gas furnace when it is really electric. I count on my sellers to double check what they told me.
    Melina Tomson´s last blog post ..Natural Homes in Salem Oregon

  • Absolutely, Melina. I have been corrected on an erroneous entry more than once. In addition to sabotaging clients with indiscretion, we can also create a whole heap of trouble for the owners and ourselves alike by misrepresenting (accidentally or otherwise) the features of the home. Some may feel like the seller is looking over their shoulder, and they’re right. That’s as it should be.

  • Ah, Paul, you have hit upon one of my pet peeves in our industry. Providing necessary information to other agents is one thing – compromising your client’s negotiating position is quite another. When did confidentiality get thrown out the window when agents are communicating with each other?
    Lisa Heindel´s last blog post ..New Orleans Real Estate FAQ How Do I Find Foreclosed Properties

  • Discernment of the difference between marketing enticement and breach of confidentiality (often compromising the client’s negotiating position in the private pleading for an offer – or worse, expressing a price below list that the seller might be willing to accept) is a prerequisite to competent service, Lisa. It can be somewhat disheartening to see how abused this basic function of professionalism is. Then again, it sure makes my job easier when sharpening the negotiation knives for my client against just such a foolhardy foil.

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Paul Slaybaugh is here to sell houses and chew bubble gum. He's all out of bubble gum. More About Me >>>

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