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  • Writer's pictureJamie Koehler

Catch 4 Hidden Sale-Deterrents In Your Property Listing

There's information about your property in the MLS that you may not be aware of, and it could be costing you a sale.

I've been in the Baltimore real estate industry since 2008. I specialize in representing home sellers in the Baltimore Area and showing them how to sell quickly and earn the most profit possible. I always tell sellers "you have one chance to make a great first impression." There are big matters to tackle, and small ones too, but the execution has to be flawless throughout. A lot of times when I speak to sellers who are defeated that another agent couldn't sell their home, they are surprised to learn that the MLS holds more information about their home than meets the eye and that that information, or lack of information in some cases, could have reduced showing activity, caused the house to rack up days on market, and left buyers wondering "What's wrong with it?", ultimately costing the sellers a sale.

Your Property Listing Holds Information You're Not Aware Of

There’s information about your property in the MLS that you may not be aware of, and it could be costing you a sale.

You’ve probably heard of the MLS. It stands for “Multiple Listing Service” and it’s a site that can only be accessed by real estate professionals. It’s where Realtors list sellers’ properties and search for properties for their buyers. Some information from the MLS syndicates to consumer sites like Redfin and Zillow, but certainly not all of it. That’s right – there’s information about your home in the MLS that you may not even be aware of. And, since that information is easily seen by buyers’ agents, and then passed onto their buyers, it impacts your ability to get a sale done, without you even knowing it.

Let’s start with this – how are you going to gain visibility to it? Easy. Tell your agent you’d like a copy of the listing from the MLS. You have every right to see it. Request the “Agent Full” format. Additionally, you will need to say that you want the print-out or PDF directly from the listing so you can see exactly what that page looks like. You’ll know if it’s the right format because it will say “Agent Full” at the top.

Now what are the top 4 sale-deterrents you should be looking for?

How To Catch 4 Sale-Deterrents In Your Property Listing

#1 - Comments In The "Agent Remarks" Section

There’s a section in the MLS where agents can write information for other real estate agents to see. This information does not get spread across sites like Redfin and Zillow. I have seen some sellers’ agents write information like “motivated seller“ here. “Motivated seller” is basically inviting a buyer's agent to start with a low-ball offer because the seller is willing to make concessions. "Motivated seller" could also be interpreted as a seller that really wants to leave, perhaps due to an experience with the property. "Motivated seller" is not going to earn you strong offers. If your agent has written something here, it could be impacting a buyer's agent's, and therefore the buyer's, perception. To find out what’s written, go to the section titled “Remarks”. A few lines down it will say “Agent:”. Read what’s written there. If you do not see “Agent:” under “Remarks”, your agent has not written private notes to buyers’ agents. No "Agent Remarks" is perfectly acceptable.

#2 - Disclosure Forms Are Missing

Standard sales require the seller to complete disclosures which will be included in the contract documents. These documents should be uploaded as an attachment on your property listing. These forms let the buyer know information such as if the water is public or well water, if the sewer is public or septic, etc, but they also require the seller to disclose if there are any known latent defects at the property. The disclosures are supposed to be uploaded as an attachment to the property listing in the MLS. When they aren’t, a buyer may become spooked, thinking because they aren’t uploaded, the seller’s agent is trying to retain that information until the buyer is committed to writing an offer. To check that documents are uploaded to the listing, look at the top of the page provided by the agent. Directly under the address in the top left corner, there will be little icons. The first one at the far left should look like a camera, the next will look like a little square map, and the third will look like a white square with black lines on it. If you see the white square with the black lines on it, documents are uploaded. If you do not see it, there are no documents uploaded. The disclosures require the seller's signature, so there shouldn't be a concern about what the disclosures say; you signed them.

#3 - Below Market Commission Splits

In the Greater Baltimore Area, it is customary that the seller pays both their own broker’s commission as well as the buyer’s broker’s commission when a sale closes. While the commission rate is negotiable, 5% of the sales price (total for both) is the common rate. Typically, the 5% gets split evenly between the seller’s broker and the buyer’s broker with each party earning 2.5% of the sales price. I have seen sellers’ brokerages take 3% for themselves and offer 2% to the buyer’s broker. What’s wrong with that? As a buyer’s agent you only get burned in this sort of scenario once, at most. To prevent themselves from being shortchanged, many buyer’s brokers will have their buyer representation agreement with the buyer state that if the seller offers below 2.5% of the sales price as a buyer’s broker’s commission, the buyer shall be responsible for paying the difference. When a buyer wants to see that listing with the below 2.5% commission, the buyer’s agent will disclose that the buyer can expect to see an extra fee at the closing (to make up the difference between the 2.5% and what the listing says the seller is paying). You’d be surprised how this deters jaded buyers who are already worried about paying the down payment on the loan, closing costs, moving fees, etc. To make sure that the buyer’s agent commission is at least 2.5%, go to the section on the MLS listing that says “Compensation”. Then check what is written next to “Buyer Agency Comp”.

#4 - Pictures That Indicate That The Listing Is Stale

Ok, on the surface this doesn’t seem like something that could be “hidden” from you. Most sellers will look at Redfin or Zillow when their property is initially listed, but then never again. Additionally, some agents don’t continue to monitor their listings with fresh eyes. If you listed your property in January, and the exterior pictures have trees without leaves and snow on the ground and now it’s March and spring is in full bloom, the first thing a buyer is going to see are that the pictures aren’t current and the first thing the buyer is going to think is “It's been on the market for awhile. Why didn’t it sell; what’s wrong with it?” and likely move on. You need to keep the pictures current and fresh so your listing isn’t continually bypassed.

You Have One Chance To Make A Great First Impression

Remember, "you have one chance to make a great first impression." Attention to detail matters. When you sell in the Greater Baltimore Area, make sure you know how your home is being presented both on the surface and behind-the-scenes so that your home sells quickly and you earn the most profit possible.

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