Common Seller Objections


4 minute read

December 2, 2010

The pricing objections that I went through on Monday & Tuesday made me realize how many other very, very common objections I come across when speaking with prospective sellers.

These are a little more subjective than the others, as I think an argument could be made for or against the following…


“We don’t want to do a pre-home inspection for the listing.”

I respectfully disagree.

As I said before – many of these objections are subjective and can be argued either way.  But personally, I think a pre-home inspection is an asset.

I would almost never recommend that my buyer-clients purchase a house unless:
a) there is a pre-home inspection sitting on the kitchen counter
b) we have a condition on home inspection and we conduct our own

It depends on the house itself.

If the house is brand new, then you have the TARION warranty which you all know I have sooooo much faith in.  But if the property is covered under TARION, at least you get to do a walk-through and spot any deficiencies or workmanship issues and they will be corrected in due course.

Any other house, whether it’s four-years-old or forty-years-old, should be thoroughly inspected before you commit to one of the largest purchase decisions of your life.

This is why, as a listing agent, I urge my sellers to conduct a home inspection in advance and effectively “put all their cards on the table.”

I think that most buyers will want to see a home inspection, so why not beat them to the punch?

Why not conduct a pre-home inspection and allow them to thumb through it and satisfy themselves of any potential issues, and then come to the table with an unconditional offer?

This is especially important if you, as a seller, are expecting multiple offers.  The last thing you want is for the highest offer to be conditional, and then have to make the tough decision of whether to accept the offer and roll the dice, or take the highest unconditional offer.

I believe that conducting a pre-home inspection is an asset and a marketing tool and will result in a higher sale price for the property.

“We need the buyer to take over our mortgage.”

This is a tough one, no matter what the terms of the mortgage.

But consider the cost if you are the seller.

In order to discharge your mortgage, you’re almost certainly looking at three months interest as a penalty.

Let’s say this amounts to $4,700.

If your property is listed at $699,000, how much does this $4,700 cost really represent?  It’s less than 1% of the sale price of the home.  I believe it’s “just another cost of doing business.”

As a seller, you’ll pay a real estate commission to an agent, legal fees, and potentially staging/cleaning/landscaping/etc.  Discharging your mortgage is another item to add to the list.

If your mortgage is attractive, perhaps you can offer this as a “plus.”  But you can’t force it on a buyer.  You might be shooting yourself in the foot if you do.

When I sold my last investment property, I had a mortgage of 4.29% with over four years left on the term.  Current rates were up around 4.50% and it made sense for the buyer to assume my mortgage.

He was a first-time-buyer and he was incredibly nervous.  When I suggested he take over my mortgage, he said, “Umm….I think I’ll probably just go get my own mortgage.”  I think he felt that I was trying to put one over on him, or maybe he just didn’t trust me.  My point is – sometimes things don’t make any sense, and you can’t force somebody to take your mortgage even if it’s for their own good.

When I see the words “BUYER MUST ASSUME MORTGAGE,” it makes me cringe.

The seller is jeopardizing the sale all to save a few bucks on the discharge.

And quite often, I’ve seen sellers try and force the buyer to assume rates that are higher than posted rates!  If you’re selling a commercial building for $3,500,000 with a 6.7% rate and four years left, and current rates are around 4.9%, you’re basically asking the buyer to spend MORE than the $3,500,000 list price.

Everything comes out in the wash eventually…

“We spent $18,000 on the custom oak bookshelves in the basement and we want to know that the buyers are going to pay for this.”

I’m often asked by home-owners if I think that their (insert renovation here) will provide them with a return on their money.

If a home-owner is going to spend $6,500 on new hardwood flooring, they want to know, “Would I get an extra $6,500 for my house if I sold tomorrow?”

Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing for sure.

But some things you simply cannot recoup your costs for, and these are more personal improvements or features that won’t appeal to all buyers.

I used the example of the oak bookshelves above.  My Dad had these put into our family home when I was a kid.  When we evaluated the house as we prepared to sell, he commented on the cost of the shelving.  I said, “They’re only worth $18,000 if the buyer is going to use AND appreciate them.”

If you put a bar in your basement and it costs $10,000, you can’t just assume that your house is worth $10,000 more.  There is NO feature in existence that has universal appeal.  Some buyers might love the idea of the bar, and others might have two small children for whom they want to create a play room in the basement.  These buyers might look at the cost of removing the bar, and subtract this from their assessment of value of the home.

“We don’t want to show the house on weekends.  Our time off is OUR time off.”

Again, I’ve written entire blog posts about this subject, but one of the most common objections during my initial meeting with prospective sellers has to do with when to show the property.

When do I think a property should be available to show?

All day, any day.

As soon as you start limiting showings, you start limiting the buyer pool.

If you have a six-week-old baby at home and you don’t want showings to go past 8PM, I understand.

But if you’re just arrogant and entitled, then you are the master of your own misfortune.

By limiting showings, you’re just encouraging people to view other properties.  And whereas most buyers feel, “They can always come back on Thursday,” in actual fact, many buyers never do.

Many buyers see 5-6 properties at once and focus on an area before moving on.  If you limit showings and a buyer doesn’t see your property when he or she wanted to, you may have turned that buyer away for good.

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. Marina

    at 12:55 pm

    What about common buyer objections that make no sense?
    You have mentioned a few in several blogs (unrealistic market expectations, needs vs. wants, wanting to screw around with agent commissions,etc), but it’d be cool to get the same breakdown as for sellers.

  2. David Fleming

    at 4:23 pm

    @ Marina

    Now THAT would make for an excellent Friday blog!

    However, I regret that I will be “entertaining” tonight and I don’t think I’ll have time to string together 1200 words for tomorrow. I’ll just have to post a video of Bert & Ernie arguing over cookies and that will have to fill the void for my loyal bloggies…

  3. Geoff

    at 4:51 pm

    One has to wonder why David put ‘entertaining’ in quotations above.

    Is it because he’s ‘entertaining’ clients like how prostitutes ‘entertain’ clients, or is it something dirty?

  4. George

    at 6:26 pm

    Or the best Bert & Ernie video ever: the one with Bert’s nephew Brad.

  5. Princess Clara

    at 8:29 pm

    @Geoff – Im glad SOMEONE pointed that out other than me. 😀

  6. David Fleming

    at 1:26 pm

    haha okay, okay, I guess I left some things to the imagination with “entertaining” in quotes.

    Sorry to disappoint, but last night was five guys squeezing onto a four-person couch to watch Thursday Night Football. I wish I felt creative enough to make up something better…

Pick5 is a weekly series comparing and analyzing five residential properties based on price, style, location, and neighbourhood.

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