Quick Answer Series: Is There Such a Thing as a “Bad Listing”?



One of my pet peeves is the notion of “bad listings”.  I’ve heard agents talk about certain properties being bad listings, either because the home was not pristine, or because they assumed it was over-priced.  I believe that the majority of those comments are simply sour grapes, because the agent lost the listing.

Maybe I’m wrong.  If you are reading this and you think you have a bad listing, please feel free to refer it to me immediately.  You see, I don’t think there are any bad listings, just bad agents.  I’ll tell you why.

Listings are only considered bad because they are difficult to sell.  After all, we get paid to sell homes, and not to simply list them.  So let’s explore some of the typical hard-to-sell scenarios and see if they are really bad listings.

The “dog house” listing. You know what I mean — the listing that looks like a bomb went off inside.  No maintenance for years.  Pet stains and odors.  Outdated.  Landscaping is a wreck.  The seller won’t pick up his junk so it looks like it’s in shambles.  Many times the owner doesn’t want to do any repairs prior to selling, or it might even be tenant occupied (one of my personal favorites).  Is this a bad listing?  No!

The “over-priced” listing. This one is generally the polar opposite of the dog house listing.  This is one of those sellers who has the best looking home on the block, and so he mistakenly believes that translates into a higher sale price.  Maybe he’s spent lots of money on upgrades, a swimming pool, an in-ground hot tub, landscaping, an out building, and so on.  He naturally assumes that since the money was spent on his home, it is a good investment.  So he insists on pricing the home outside the reasonable range of value.  Is this a bad listing?  No!

The “invisible” listing. This one is essentially unavailable for showing.  Maybe it’s tenant occupied, and maybe it’s a client who never seems to be available to show the home.  Maybe they refuse a lockbox.  Often invisible listings are what we consider to be un-motivated sellers.  Maybe it’s just difficult to find.  So does this make it a bad listing?  No!

I think you’ll agree that almost all of what we call “bad listings” fall into one or more of those categories.  Now let me explain why you should still want them, and why you should still take them.  Here are just four good reasons.  Feel free to add more in your comments.

  1. Market presence. Your sign in the yard tells all the neighbors, and those driving by, who you are.  You are branding yourself in that area.  It’s like geographic farming only free and much easier.
  2. Leads. I’ve taken thousands of calls — sign calls, home magazine calls, and website calls and inquiries from the worst possible listings.  Often those over-priced homes that look so awesome attract hundreds of calls from other buyers who may never consider buying that listing.  And leads are extremely valuable.  Ask an agent that has none.
  3. Reality Check. Many times, after the home sits on the market for an extended period, the unrealistic seller gets a reality check.  There’s nothing like the passage of time and buyers staying away in droves to get their attention.  Once you have the seller’s undivided attention, he may very well take your advice and change a few things, making it easier to sell.  If you had passed on the listing, where would you be when he came to his senses and really wanted to sell?
  4. Bad Listings Sell. This is my favorite reason.  Don’t ask me why, but I’ve had some of the nicest listings sit on the market forever, and some of the worst sell immediately.  Go figure.  There’s one thing I’ve noticed:  When you look at the HUD-1s, they all look the same.  I especially like the top line on page 2.  How about you?

Let me sum it up.  I’ll take every single opportunity to list a home.  I realize that some will be easier to sell than others.  Some may never sell.  But with the right approach, most will eventually sell, and I’ll get paid.  That’s why I don’t think there are any bad listings.  And that’s my quick answer.  (By the way, you might want to read about my approach on my blog.  I’ve used this approach to list 119 homes in a single year, all at 8% or more in a market that is 6% and less.)

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Matt

I give away about 99% of all my technology and digital training content, completely free of charge, because I want to see other agents have the same kind of success that I've had. But one thing I charge for is my Ultimate Website technology. This is the web technology I created for myself that turned my real estate practice around overnight, and now I license it agents everywhere. But right now it's too popular and is currently waitlisted. Click here to get on the website as soon as possible and I'll notify you as soon as new invitations become available.

Comments 15

  1. author Michael Voss posted December 1st 2010. 1:47 pm Reply

    What if the house is structuraly unsafe? we went on a preview of one of my agents potential listings and the roof is caving in, home is about to go into foreclosure, and she owes more then it is worth.l I was afraid to take the listing because i am worried about someone being injured on the premises. I agree with getting as many of our signs out there as well for market presence.
    but this one was a huge question mark if we should take the listing. thanks for any feedback..
    Michael Voss.

  2. author Carol Genua posted December 1st 2010. 1:59 pm Reply

    Nice article, we all have had those “tough” listings

  3. author Hugh Hussey posted December 1st 2010. 2:10 pm Reply

    “He who lists, lasts”.

  4. author Matt Jones posted December 1st 2010. 2:26 pm Reply

    Okay, Michael. You got me. Thank you guys for reading and for your comments.

  5. author Jaime Garcia posted December 1st 2010. 2:32 pm Reply

    I agree on all 4 pointers, we as agents need to sort of educate potential sellers and make them come to their senses. Is it difficult? of course it is that’s why there are few good agents who actually do a good service by helping solve a problem.

  6. author Elaine Inlow posted December 1st 2010. 3:22 pm Reply

    You’re right. Some of the worst listings that you thought would never sell, sell before the good ones. I think a Realtor has to have all kinds of listings to stay in the game!

  7. author Patricia I. Barksdale posted December 1st 2010. 3:42 pm Reply

    Thanks for the reminders.

  8. author Mike Folgheraiter posted December 1st 2010. 3:55 pm Reply

    Great post Matt! In my 18 years in the business (SAD-TO SAY!) I have had a few listings that have not sold or have expired.But not because I did not do my job. Some sellers no matter what you say or do or how much you educate them they can not come to there senses or reality. And I love it when they re-list with a new co.and then do everything you told them to do. and then bring them the buyer and see the look on there faces (PRICE-LESS) I love my Job!

  9. author Anonymous posted December 1st 2010. 3:14 pm Reply

    Michael, I had 2 listings that were structuraly unsafe. Of course I took them and I put a disclaimer like: ” Enter at your own risk”and in MLS, I attached an acknowledgment to be signed prior to giving the lockbox code. They both sold!!!!!

  10. author Anonymous posted December 1st 2010. 3:14 pm Reply

    Michael, I had 2 listings that were structuraly unsafe. Of course I took them and I put a disclaimer like: ” Enter at your own risk”and in MLS, I attached an acknowledgment to be signed prior to giving the lockbox code. They both sold!!!!!

  11. author Marion B. Goodman posted December 1st 2010. 3:28 pm Reply

    Two thumbs up Matt. My favorite bad listing was a house that had what looked like mold in it, it looked like Mold and smelled like Mold. The owner had moved out and 2 big dogs had the run of the house and the yard. He would come by twice a day to feed them. I couldn’t have open houses, but I got 3 offers sight unseen. I did have a virtual tour. I love bad listings.

  12. author Debbie Templeton Harika posted December 1st 2010. 4:22 pm Reply

    You are right, Matt. Some listings only feel bad. Have only had 2 listings ever not sell. Both were the same seller and the same time and she was very realistic about what they were worth. Both went into foreclosure. Was an absolute nightmare. Never take a listing from your sister!!!!

    On all others, if client was insistant on pricing it too high, would make a deal with them that we would try it their way. If we didnt have an offer in 2 weeks we would change the price. Although taking the clients thru comparable listings with proper pricing usually hits the point home. 9 times out of 10 we would get an offer pretty quickly when staged and properly priced.

  13. author Donna Marie Harris posted December 1st 2010. 8:19 pm Reply

    So true. I just said yesterday that every house, every single house, will sell if priced correctly.

  14. author Jackie Simonetta McKenzie posted December 3rd 2010. 10:48 am Reply

    Thanks for that reminder.

  15. author John C. Spain posted August 27th 2011. 1:35 am Reply

    I have many bad listings, all do sell or expire, wha I do along the way is what matters, get more buyers, brand myself, finally get price reductions, it is better than no listings with the right attitude

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