The Single Worst Thing a Seller Can Say

Maybe you’ve said it yourself. Maybe you’ve heard your friends and neighbors say it to you. Whatever the circumstance, there is nothing worse a seller can say than these seven words …

I’m going to wait for my price.

This also could be worded in its related form, “I’m not going to give my house away.”

In either of these cases, the truth is sitting right in front of the sellers’ face but they’re not willing or ready to admit the truth of the situation – their expectations aren’t aligned with the state of the market as it stands.

It’s all well and good that you may want $135,000 for your property when the best the comparable sales say you rightly can expect is $125,000. If you really want the $135,000 then wait for the $135,000 … but don’t have your home on the market in the interim.

Last week, one of my buyers’ agents made an offer on a property that had been on the market for nearly eight months. Market value and list price didn’t match and the buyers elected, oddly enough, to make an offer at market value. The sellers indicated they were content to wait for their price.

My question is this … how is it going to happen? What is going to make a buyer with other options pursue a property that’s overpriced by nearly 10 percent? Why would anyone pay the extra money just for the hell of it all?

Wait for your price. Just don’t do it on the market. That’s what I would suggest if I were these folks’ listing agent; instead, it seems the agent is content to have a stick in the ground of a property that cannot sell as marketed.

There are hundreds of agents who will accept a listing at any price just to get a stick in the ground. I made that mistake myself in 2007, goaded by a relocation department that urged me to “look at the big picture” and “preserve the relationship” with the seller and outside relocation company and lock up these listings so as to make our internal statistics of listings acquired look really good.

At one point in 2007 – the weakest market we’d seen, incidentally, in ages – I had 17 listings concurrently and finished the year with 25, one every two weeks.

Six sold.

It’s not something I’m particularly proud of … I could spin that record any way I wish but the reality remains the same. In an effort to placate sellers (and the relocation department at Arizona Foothills), I accepted a dozen and a half unsellable listings and priced them according to the sellers’ wishes, not market reality.

Since then?

  • 44 properties listed
  • 19 sold, with another three under contract
  • 2 canceled by mutual consent (one was Craigslist guy, who kept changing his listing on Craigslist with different list prices daily … I fired him.)
  • 12 expired, seven of which were short sales that didn’t get approved in time to save the home.

The common thread on these latter listings? I won’t take the listing unless the home can sell, and that means having the right price on the property.

So, sellers, feel free to wait for your price. Just do it from the sidelines. Don’t saddle your home with an obscene number of Days on Market for no reason.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Virginia Hepp 5 years ago

    Taking the overpriced listing is not a good way to preserve the relationship. 
    Great article!

  • John Wake 5 years ago

    “I’m not going to give it away.”  I have a really bad emotional reaction now when sellers say that. I had a seller in 2008 who priced it at $520,000.  I thought it should be $499,000 and would sell for about $480,000 AT THAT TIME. A short time after having no offers at $520,000, I suggested lowering it to $499,000. She said, “I’m not going to give it away.” The market was falling FAST then.  They eventually lowered the price but way too slowly. They turned down an offer for $450,000. My listing expired and after me so did another agent’s listing.  They eventually sold it for $400,000 in 2009.  They lost $80,000 by tying their home’s worth to their own self worth… or something. And they gave it away.

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