Must a Sacramento Listing Agent Like a Seller to List the Home?

like a seller to list the home

Good question: must a listing agent like a seller to list the home? In my early stages in real estate, back in the 1970s, I used to believe a strictly professional relationship was the only way to conduct business. Over the years, I’ve come to believe that an agent doesn’t necessarily need to “like” or be best friends with a seller, but a Sacramento listing agent does need to feel good about the relationship for it to be a fiduciary.

Hardly anybody know what fiduciary really means, much less some sellers. But to have a fiduciary, which, btw, is required between a listing agent and seller, there needs to be a minimum of trust and respect. Because a listing agent is required to put the needs of her seller above her own. Seriously. You think I’m making this up but I am not. It’s right there in real estate law and principles.

Whenever I see fiduciary in jeopardy, well, it’s a red flag. For example, when I upload listing paperwork to DocuSign, I tell my sellers to go ahead and sign the profile sheet because it’s just a document we use to input data into MLS. Sometimes they might spot a mistake, which is easy since I use a template. Everything is pre-filled to match most listings. I manually change the data, customize it. If my phone rings, I might get distracted and not pick up at the line I left. So maybe a radio button for vinyl floor did not get checked.

Who better to notice than a seller with a vested interest? I ask my clients to email me changes with a promise to correct before I send the document to the office. I am such a stickler for details and having everything perfect, pretty anal about it. I verify each listing 3 times prior to publication. However, if a seller insists that I redo the paperwork, that says they do not trust me. If they don’t trust, we don’t have fiduciary. If we don’t have fiduciary, I have no business dealing with them.

It becomes a red flag. You can’t ignore red flags. It’s silent sabotage. Rarely is it a fluke.

This is a fact because trying to work with clients who have no respect nor trust for their agent is fairly defeatist. An agent might feel inclined not to go that extra mile. What is that extra mile? It generally involves maximizing seller profit. I can tell you that is a terrible way to feel. To feel like you do not want to do your best. I always want to go above and beyond for my sellers. Every blue moon or so, though, I find myself with a seller who doesn’t inspire me to stretch myself. Uh-oh. Trouble.

There is little satisfaction in doing just an OK job. I expect great performances from myself and take pride on delivery.

But you can tell when a person doesn’t like you. In my recent experience, I felt that sour attitude after I informed the seller his home smelled like cigarette smoke. At that point, I thought I could handle it because although I might not always like a seller to list the home, I can usually find some redeeming quality in a person. So I focus on that. I was also very careful to explain it from a buyer’s point of view. But the seller hated me for it. And it didn’t get any better as time went on.

When I sent the seller a PDF file of how the listing would look when it publishes, the seller refused to review the information for accuracy. Who does that? I’ve never had a seller refuse to cooperate. Well, that would be a seller who really does not trust nor respect his agent. And an agent who tries to like a seller to list the home would find herself feeling the exact opposite.

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen very often to me. Maybe once in every couple of years. Honestly, I thought they had taken care of the odor in the home, but when I realized they had not, and they still wanted top dollar, topped with a big dollop of non-respect, well, only a fool moves forward. My only regret is I wish I had bailed earlier and not kept trying. No commission is worth aggravation.

The moral of this story is be good to yourself. It swings both ways. If you don’t like your agent, and the respect and trust is not there, find another agent. So, yes, the answer is a listing agent does need to like a seller to list a home. If the seller deliberately changes that balance, it’s a no-go.

I want my clients to feel confident that when we cross the finish line, I have done everything in my power to enhance their financial situation and protect their interests. If an agent does not like a seller to list a home, it won’t happen that way. It’s not just me, it’s true about any agent. Except maybe the hucksters.

Elizabeth Weintraub

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