There’s a story I once heard about a Spanish bank. Apparently their elderly customers were taking up a disproportionate amount of their staff’s time, yet their business was of little value to the bank. But how to gradually ease them out without causing offence and starting a PR scandal?
They simply increased the height of their steps that led to the bank.
Of course, nowadays this would be terribly non-politically correct, and anyway, there would be a ramp! But this was some time ago, and the original stone steps were the only way into the branch.
So, the bank increases the height of their steps and one by one, the elderly customers stop coming, and over time, the average age of the bank’s customer decreased. Yes, they probably did upset some of their older customers, and I’m not necessarily advocating this as a customer retention method (!) but in the bank’s case, it did mean that they could offer a better, more appropriate service to their younger customers.
When it comes to selling your house, it’s your estate agent’s job to raise the steps, metaphorically speaking. If he adopts an open-door, anyone-can-view policy, you will spend your time preparing your homes for one time waster after another to view. There will be those who ‘haven’t sold yet’, those who are ‘just looking what we can get for our money’, and even the ones who admit ‘we’re just the neighbours – always wanted to have a look inside’. Not to mention those viewers who ‘haven’t checked yet’ what they can borrow and the “can’t afford it but thought it was worth a cheeky offer” types.
And slowly but surely, with each viewer who views your house, and each month that your house spends languishing unsold on the market, it becomes less and less desirable. Even your once-optimistic agent starts to become disheartened: “20 viewers and no offers” he will note glumly, “must be the price.” And so you begin the inevitable downward spiral of price drops, resulting in seller demoralisation and despondency, and agent bewilderment. At HomeTruths, when we re-launch a client’s property to market, we give a very clear instruction to the estate agent: only show the house to buyers who can actually buy it. Do your homework, we tell him: find out the viewer’s budget, their buying position, what else they’re looking at, and ask lots of questions about the type of house they’re looking for. By making viewings by invitation only, overtly or discreetly, a buyer will feel they are being allowed to see an exclusive property, for which they have been especially selected.
A HomeTruths’ client last year had experienced 60+ viewings over the course of a year, and yet had not received one single offer: not even a cheeky one. We re-launched her house with a new, motivated agent who was fully supportive of her asking price, new photography and a beautiful brochure, and told the agent to screen all her potential viewers carefully. The result? Only four viewings in eight weeks: but two offers. She accepted the higher of the two, and she and her family were able to finally move on.
The lesson here is to raise your steps. Don’t make it too easy for a buyer – make them work a little. Play a little hard to get; we all know how attractive that can be.
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