Counseling Clients on Home Improvements

Before you start to counsel owners about home improvements, remember these two rules:

i First and foremost, never counsel before you're hired. Counseling happens after a client-relationship is established. Attorneys don't offer legal advice before their services have been officially retained. Doctors don't diagnose without assurance of compensation. Real estate agents should follow suit. Wait until the listing agreement is signed. After it's signed, begin giving counsel regarding how the owner can achieve a quicker sale or higher price by making recommended home improvements and implementing staging advice.

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Too frequently, agents give away their expert counsel during listing presentations in hopes of proving their ability and expertise to sellers. More often than not, though, the sellers simply take the counsel with them when they link up with an agent who is less skillful but promises a cheaper fee.

1 Second, tell the truth. If the sellers need to clean the home, tell them. If they're smokers and the house reeks from cigarettes, or if their pets are causing odor problems, tell them.

Likewise, appearances can kill buyer interest. If the home is crowded with too much stuff, say so. If the pink exterior color may cause people to drive right on by, speak up. Holding your tongue only delays the day of reckoning. What's more, it's easier to be totally frank when you first notice the problem — though only after the listing contract is signed). If you counsel before you gain commitment, your advice may offend the sellers and cost you the listing. This is another reason to follow Rule #1 and get a signature before giving counsel.

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