Beware!Buying and selling homes in Silicon Valley can be downright daunting.  Perhaps you have heard this line: “the confused mind says no”.  It’s true. When consumers feel overwhelmed, it tends to freeze them in their tracks.

One approach that some real estate salespeople use to gain control and get themselves hired as a listing agent or buyers’ agent is to oversimplify complex situations such that they feel manageable and doable. If that real estate agent makes things look less complex, it removes some worry and builds trust, and thus the consumer elects to hire that Realtor or other licensee.

The trouble is that too often, the overly easy answer is not really a true picture of the buying or selling situation.  It is simply a convenient one which gets the agent what she or he wants – the job.

How do you know if what you’re hearing is a dangerous oversimplification?  Often, it’s when all choices or decisions are boiled down to just one issue.  For example, you might, as a home seller, hear that “The only thing that matters is….” followed by any number of single choices:  price, marketing, negotiation ability, staging.

I see home owners fall for this too often.  The thing is this – if that agent convinces you that only one of these items matter, than all of the rest can be discounted, played down, and ignored.

Let’s look at some examples.

  1. Pricing – One of the oldest tricks in the book is to say that the way you price the property is the sole issue.  What is true is that if you price the property too high, it won’t matter what else you do because the house either won’t sell at all or will eventually sell only at a below value amount.  If you price it super low, yes, it will sell despite bad odors, despite poor marketing or difficulty in buyers seeing the home.  But will you sell for top dollar? No you won’t.  Pricing is a very important piece of the puzzle, but it is not the whole puzzle!
  2. Marketing – depending on the home owner and the agent vying for the job, there may be a focus on any number of things: web marketing, print advertisements in papers, magazine ads, open houses etc.  Marketing is important for exposure.  But again, it’s not the only thing. As mentioned above, if the price is wrong, all the marketing in the world won’t help.
  3. Agent skills, such as negotiation ability – There are some who feel that all realty professionals are alike, all marketing is alike, all pricing is alike, and the only difference from one to the next is this or that skill (such as negotiation, but it could be staging or some other strength).  This is an especially easy way for Silicon Valley home sellers to be led astray because many of them go into the discussion not being able to really distinguish between agents in terms of overall strength, success, etc.  So they start believing that there’s not much difference in the playing field, and the sales person trying to get the listing confirms this belief first, then lays out the “one real difference”.  So we have validation followed by a simplified “clarification”.  This is bite sized!  There may be a sense of “ahhh, I can do this!” on the part of the weary home owner.  Yes, one easy answer, one issue only to compare.  That’s doable!  But again, these skills or talents must be valued in conjunction with everything else, because one good skill set is not enough.  The agent might be a fantastic negotiator, but terrible at pricing, staging, marketing or some other aspect which is also key to maximizing the bottom line to the seller.

It is possible for a good agent to guide you to see the whole picture and to help you to appreciate the complexity of what is being undertaken (selling your property for the most money and ideally with the least hassle overall) without overwhelming you.  It is preferable if you can be shown that your best interests are being met not just in one area of the real estate marketing and sales process, but in all of them.  Oversimplifying your choices or areas of concern might make you feel better in the short run, but more than anything, it may make it easy for the aggressive or manipulative real estate sales person to get your signature on the paperwork without your having to think too much.  Please beware this tactic!

Related reading:

Silicon Valley Home Buyers & Sellers Tips – Beware Agent Tricks and Traps