Ozaukee & Washington County Real Estate: Why I Won't Take Your Overpriced Listing

Find out more about Ozaukee and Washington County real estate, including the cities of Grafton, Belgium, Cedarburg, West Bend, Jackson and Germantown.

Why I Won't Take Your Overpriced Listing

Recently I've been noticing some new listings popping up that are priced at a point that I just don't get.

pricing a houseI know it's been debated by many in the industry as to whether or not it's a good idea to take a listing at a price the seller wants to start at even if we know the market can't handle it. After all, we can always reduce it, right?? I've gone over the pros and cons of such a practice again and again and again, and have decided that for me, I simply will not take an overpriced listing. And it's for a simple reason:

I feel like I'd be doing the seller a huge disservice.

Those first few weeks a house is on the market is the best opportunity we have to grab those buyers and bring them through. At what price can we get buyers to look at our seller's house over the competition? At what price can we generate the most activity and interest, and ultimately the best offer?

The list prices I recommend to my sellers are based on a market analysis that includes a summary of comparable properties currently on the market and a summary of those that recently sold (typically in the last six months). I take into consideration the number of bedrooms & bathrooms, square footage, recent updates, and improvements and location.

An appraiser will do the same. If the comparable properties sold for tens of thousands of dollars less than what my seller's house is listed for, how can I expect that it will appraise out?

A few years ago I walked away from a listing when the sellers decided not to reduce the price as we had agreed to. It was one of the hardest decisions I've made in the business, but I knew the market could not handle their current price. They have since listed it with a few other brokers, and it has still not sold.

I recently met with three different sellers about their respective properties, and although the data I provided supported my recommendation, it was clear they were disappointed in what I was telling them. All three ultimately listed their homes with other brokers at prices that are well above the competition and any recently sold properties. Ouch.

house for sale ozaukee washington county

But as I watch these properties sit and sit and sit, I know each of these agents did a huge disservice to their sellers.

Part of my job is to be honest with my clients even if that means delivering news I know they don't want to hear. What is the point of misleading them and letting them think they can and will get that inflated price?

One of the first questions I get from buyers when we go looking at houses is, "How long has it been on the market?" The higher that number of days is, the more they think the seller must be getting desperate and will take anything at this point or there is something wrong with the house.

I don't want any of my sellers to be in that position, because once they're there, it is extremely difficult to get out.

So I will continue doing what I've been doing. If that means losing a listing to an agent who's willing to mislead their seller then so be it. It's more important to me to maintain honesty and integrity with my client than to provide false hope and have my name dangling from a sign.




Peggy Wester
Phone: 262-370-1757
Email: pwester@realtyexecutives.com
Website: peggywester.com
Blog: peggysblog.com

Peggy Wester - Realty Executives Integrity

Comment balloon 54 commentsPeggy Wester • April 05 2013 12:30PM


A very well thought out opinion. I agree, it's a disservice to the seller.

Posted by Bud & Beth McKinney, Cary/Raleigh/Apex NC - The Team That Cares, RE/MAX United (RE/MAX UNITED) over 7 years ago

I always ask my clients what is their motivation for wanting to sell their home. I don't take listing from sellers who aren't motivated nor do I take listing that are not within the market value.

Posted by Les & Sarah Oswald, Broker, Realtor and Investor (Realty One Group) over 7 years ago

Bud & Beth -- I admit I've taken overpriced listings earlier in my career -- just wanted the listing! But what a mistake. If we're here to provide sellers with our professional opinion, it's just wrong (in my opinion) to mislead them

Sarah & Les -- I've learned to ask about the motivation, too. It's very telling, isn't it??

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Peggy, all sellers want to try and get the bigger dollar but most of the time will reduce. If not, we need to move on.

Posted by Terri Poehler, Coral Springs Real Estate Agent (Realtor) over 7 years ago

Terri -- I understand they want to get the biggest dollar, but holy cow -- these listings I've seen recently just blow me away. Too much unneeded stress with that type of listing!  :)

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Great well written post one seller's should read before placing their homes on the market; I too feel the way you do in today's market it really is all about pricing their home to sell. I have taken a listing before if it was not too overpriced if I have a commitment from the seller to adjust within a couple of weeks if we don't get any activity.

Posted by Pat Champion, Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs (Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty) over 7 years ago

Pat -- Thank you for your kind words. I have taken listings that are slightly higher than my recommendation, too, but never, ever tens of thousands of dollars more. I just cringe when I think about it. So, so unfair to these sellers.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

I don't necessarily see it as a disservice to the Seller if you've given them all the information to make an informed decision and they disregard it.  Truth of the matter is that SOMEONE is going to take the listing at the price the Seller wants to put it out there.  I think you're very smart for not taking those listings.  The one who does runs a good chance of being reviled by the Seller for lack of results. 

Seller expectations in commercial RE had been so unrealistic that the joke was 'I want to be the 3rd liting broker.  The 1st has no chance of Selling it, The 2nd spends all their time convincing them to get real, and the 3rd finally gets to price it at market' 

You can lead a horse to water...

Posted by Dan Mincher, CCIM, Sacramento Commercial Real Estate (The Vollman Company, Inc.) over 7 years ago

It took me a minute or 12 to learn this lesson, but I am pretty sure I have it now.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 7 years ago

I'm looking for a Gold Star on this post Peggy.  Kudos to you for being unwilling to take an overpriced listing and see clients disappointed or blame you when it doesn't sell or appraise at what they are asking.  

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) over 7 years ago

Dan -- I agree someone is going to take it no matter the price. For me, though, if I take the listing knowing the price is well out of line from where it needs to be, I'm more or less telling my seller I think it's worth a try. And in most cases, I just don't think it is.

Tammy -- I hear ya! Tough lesson to learn.

Roger -- Thank you. Again, for me, my sellers just deserve better than for me to knowingly list their house at an inflated price.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

It's better to be truthful than take an overpriced listing just so the homeowners will feel good temporarily. I walk from those too. Thanks for sharing your post today,

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 7 years ago

Great post on this topic.  As a listing agent, when we agree to take on a listing, we are putting in a lot of time and money.  Being able to sell the property is important.

Posted by Paula McDonald, Ph.D., Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Beam & Branch Realty) over 7 years ago

Peggy - You are right, you will be doing disservice to the seller when you take overpriced listing. Thank you for a very good blog.

Posted by John Pusa, Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest) over 7 years ago

Pamela -- I think you hit it on the head -- temporarily feeling good. Just not worth it.

Paula -- Exactly. I have learned (the hard way) that I have better ways to spend my time and money.

John -- It's just not fair to mislead the seller. Thank you for stopping by!

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Peggy: And then the seller will beat you into the ground when you don't have showings. I think most of us took some listings we shouldn't have at some point. But if it doesn't translate into sales, it defeats the purpose why we are in busines.  

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) over 7 years ago

Hella -- I know I've taken listings I shouldn't have, and I agree that most of us probably have. I do think it's one of those tough lessons we learn in this business.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Peggy - it's very hard to walk away from a listing - I just had to do it for another reason.  I'm seeing the same thing here, though.  The market improves just a bit and everyone jacks the prices up!

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Margaret -- It is very hard to walk away -- especially when you're not as busy as you'd like to be!

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Peggy, I agree, si many te the listings high and then wear the se down.  I look in the mls hot sheet daily and see so many price reductions.  Unfortunately, many sellers think the market is returning and they can command more!

Posted by Christine O'Shea (Christine E O'Shea Broker) over 7 years ago

I used to think just like you but over the years, I have softened my approach and, as a result, my closings have exploded. It's not really my place as the listing agent to insist on a price because I am not the owner. I have a small percentage of a vested interest in that home, and somebody will buy it and somebody will ultimately give the seller what they want, so why shouldn't I be the agent on the listing at that point in time? Just because the seller and I may disagree on the price is not a good enough reason for me to turn down a listing. They know where I stand and they list with me anyway. Because it will eventually close.

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (RE/MAX Gold) over 7 years ago

Peggy - I am with you on this one.  It really hurt last year when a seller llsted with an agent that lists too high.  When I saw what it sold for with the concessions, it was exacly where I told them they would end up.  So, I had a bit of doubt about deciding not to take an overpriced listing...However, I will tend to err in the direction of honesty and integrity.  Now I wish my creditors appreicated this!  :)

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 7 years ago

Christine -- I think that's part of the problem here -- people hear the market is improving and immediately think that means prices are up. It's just not the case (yet).

Elizabeth -- I think it can work out sometimes to take these listings; I've just never experienced that. There have been too many of these houses that never sold or are still sitting on the market. I can't help but think about how much time and money the seller has lost by not pricing the house where it should've been at the get-go -- it just  doesn't sit well with me.

Joan -- I hear you on that! It absolutely stings when you see the house come up in MLS with another broker, but I think sometimes it's just best to walk away.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Dear Peggy -

Yes, it is so hard to walk away. You are so right! We just have to remember how hard it was to waste time when we last took those overpriced listings - right?

Have a happy day -

Posted by Lynn B. Friedman, Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers (Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ...) over 7 years ago

Peggy, I love that you have the courage to stand by your price findings.  It takes a lot of bravery to do that.

Also, besides harming the seller, the more YOU take these mega-high-priced listings... the more the local Realtor community at large gets the idea that you are either desperate, or that you don't know what you are doing.  The more you appear that way, the more others will question whatever you do.

Your good reputation is too hard to earn.  Keeping it intact the way you have chosen benefits everyone, including yourself.

Good post!

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 7 years ago
Hi Peggy, Great Post! We are in the market transition time and it is quite human to want to try to make up for years of loss. That doesn't make the case for accepting over priced listings but in our counseling, it helps to acknowledge the reality and it has helped me greatly in getting the price right. Once the Sellers know we actually do understand they often lighten up and become less unrealistic. Otherwise, they can chance the market and it will be with another that isn't as interested in whether they sell, which I hope they do. It just won't be with me representing them.
Posted by William Johnson, Retired Real Estate Professional (Retired) over 7 years ago
Great post Peggy. Taking over priced listing is only wasting time and money. And at the end the seller will resent us for not selling the house.
Posted by Wika Hutchinson, Broker, CRIS, SFR, CDPE over 7 years ago

Peggy, great approach to listings. Perhaps this is the main reason I have stayed away from listings (or should I say listings stayed away from me...lol?)

Somehow, I have always been told that you should take the listing but at one of the recent class, I was told that taking overpriced listing is not good for sellers - so it's a dis-service to your client!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 7 years ago

Hi Peggy:

When we take a listing at a price that is not supported by market activity, we've implied that we can make things happen for the seller.  Recently a FSBO asked me to put together a listing presentation.  Interestingly, he sent me the CMA of a competitor.  The competitor's work was fine except in one area - the result.  He found reasonably good comps that had all sold around $250,000.  His recommendation?  Price the house between $275 and $290, which, by the way, happened to coincide with the seller's expectation.  When I called the seller to explain that I could not justify his price, he responded flatly that he wanted to work with an agent who believed as he did.  I wanted to tell the seller that the agent did not believe in the high price but wanted the listing.  Instead I politely begged off, thanked the seller and wished him luck.  If seller's are willing to try different approaches, that's one thing.  But the seller who insists on a certain price always lowers his expectations with the next agent.  Saying no thank you is a tough thing to do, but more often than not, you are right to do it. And who knows, you may be that next agent.

Posted by Randy Hilman REALTOR® Associate Broker, Guide & Mentor to Home Buyers & Sellers (Randy Hilman Homes) over 7 years ago

I'll take an over-priced rental unit IF I can reduce the rent every 2 weeks until it rents...otherwise, I won't take it because it costs me and the owner money

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

Lynn -- You're right! Once you think about the money/time lost, it makes walking away from the overpriced ones a little easier.

Karen -- Excellent point and so true. I do find myself questioning the motive and skill of a couple agents in the area because of this practice.

William -- Counseling the seller is so important but when they just won't "see" the numbers we put in front of them, it's a sign to me to walk away.

Wika -- Yes. I was fired (though it was pretty mutual) by a seller several years ago when we got no showings on their house that they insisted on pricing well above what they paid with no improvements made. Everything was my fault. That was the beginning of learning hard lessons on taking overpriced listings.

Praful -- I know there are agents who will take a listing no matter what, and if that works for them, that's great! I just haven't had any success with that approach.

Randy -- In situations like that, it is best to graciously walk away like you did.

Wallace -- I've tried that approach with a home or two and it backfired -- the seller changed his mind and decided to leave the price where it was. Another lesson learned in taking a listing I know is priced well above where it should be.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Good morning Peggy - we've taken our share of overpriced listings and worked hard to market them and work with the sellers to get to a more reasonable price. Oftentimes they run into 8-10 months on the market. If the seller is unreasonable, we drop it, but if we can make some headway we keep the listing because everything sells eventually. I don't want to spend 6 months working on a property, and a seller, and then have the next guy reap the benefits because the seller has finally seen the light.

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) over 7 years ago

Walking away from business for independent contractors on commission is one of the hardest decisions to make. But I am with you all the way on overpriced listings.... they simply are a waste of time, seller gets unhappy and forgets it was "his" price not yours, relists with another agent at a more realistic price and then the next agent sells it on the back of your previous marketing! Personally, I'd always rather be the second or third agent in on the listing.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) over 7 years ago

Expectations...you and I set them early on. If not a good match, the price is wrong, then spend time marketing other listings that are where they should be, that hope to get to a closing. The ultimate goal.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 7 years ago

Peggy, it takes much courage to do this. We had a Seller who chose to go with another agent who gave a higher price and then came back to us after it didn't sell. We got it sold. They lost tens of thousands of dollars by overpricing. Sharon

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) over 7 years ago

This riminds me of one that I listed 3 years ago and still hasn't sold. I could have got rid of it in 30 days but she insisted in list at onlt 10k too much. I bet her carrying cost are way above that as it is vacant.

Posted by Rob D. Shepherd, Principal Broker GRI, SRES (Windermere/lane county) over 7 years ago

It is difficult to walk away from an overpriced listing.  It does depend though, on how overpriced it is.  If the seller is realistic that they will reduce it if they have to, then I think it is okay to take it.  If they only want to give you a three month listing, and "don't need to sell", then I would politely say no.

Posted by Jennifer Spanbauer Brodoway, just call jen (Lethbridge Real Estate.com) over 7 years ago

part of what I love about this business is you never know what quite to expect...I remain open but with lots off questions

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

It sounds like you are an honorable agent Peggy. I would want someone like you to represent me in a transaction.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 7 years ago


And yet there are so many agents who are willing to do this in every market. There is always a list price that I won't go over when taking a new listing.


Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 7 years ago
I agree with #21. It's not my place to demand "my" price. I don't own the house, I'm not paying the bills on it etc. etc. My job is to sell something that someone else owns for the price they want for it. I will always express my opinion as to what it should be listed for and what it will sell for. But if they want more, so be it. What some of you are forgetting it the old saying of "signs bring signs". Maybe you will have a couple of overpriced listings, but when the public sees your signs everywhere they think you "own" the neighborhood and some will list with you at the "right" price and you will sell it. Also, you can meet buyers who you can sell other homes to. I'll take anyone's "overpriced" listings anyday and I'll make gold out of them. Who am I to turn down business? As long as they know how I feel about the price, I cannot be blamed for the results.
Posted by Andrew Martin (REMAX Accord) over 7 years ago

I couldn't agree with you more.  Over priced listings help NO ONE.  Can you get a few buyers of your own out of it?  Yeah.  Maybe.  But how does that help your seller?  

Great post and great points.  

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 7 years ago

Wayne and Jean -- I completely understand your point -- have been there!

Nina -- It's just not worth my time on grossly overpriced listings.

Andrew -- Agreed.

Sharon -- I'm glad those sellers came back to you and you were able to get their house sold for them!

Rob -- That's one of the hardest things -- knowing they lost money because of carrying costs. Just had that conversation with a seller a month or so ago.

Jennifer -- Yes. If it's not grossly overpriced and the sellers are motivated to sell, I'll consider it.

Richie -- So true -- you never do know what to expect in real estate! :)

Tom -- Thank you.

Rich -- I agree. A few thousand higher than what the market shows it can handle -- I'll likely take it. But when you're talking tens of thousands of dollars difference, I just can't do it.

Andrew -- I understand what you're saying about "signs bring signs," but if I'm taking listings I know are priced considerably higher than where they should be just to get my name out there, then, in my opinion, I'm taking the listing for the wrong reason.


Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Amanda and Jared -- Exactly! If I take a listing just in hopes of picking up a buyer, knowing full well that house is priced at a point that will not get it sold, I am doing a complete disservice to that seller. I will not run my business like that.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

How is it a disservice to try to get a seller what they want?  It's their property. They worked hard to buy it and they own it. It's not about me. It's about them. If they want a billion dollars, then thats what they want and even if I don't think I can get that, should i not try? Signs bring signs, and the other agents and sellers will know that I didnt pick the price and they may know the seller is "crazy", and if there's a question, I will tell them that. But it's not a reflection on me. I'm doing my best to serve my customer to get them what they want. I'm not too important to take another listing. And while you say no, I'm going to meet all the neighbors and other buyers that come to my open house, and you can stand on your principles and I'll be getting other "not crazy" sellers to give me their listings because they saw my sign and I met them in person.

Posted by Andrew Martin (REMAX Accord) over 7 years ago

What's the point? I have had the opportunity several times. I don't need the frustration anymore...

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker! (Fathom Realty Washington LLC) over 7 years ago

Peggy,  I'm right there with you.  I tell sellers to their face ... I'd rather walk away and lose the opportunity to gain their business than to mislead them and set the wrong expectation ... that does not serve anyone.  They will be upset with me and ultimately get less for them home than if they price it right to start with.

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) over 7 years ago

Peggy~ I love your blog, "I am so glad I came over to say hi" & by the way, you're so right, "we need to be straight and tell it like it is....AWESOME BLOG!

Posted by Jon Kolsky, Licensed California Real Estate Broker (Kolsky Realty & Management) over 7 years ago

Andrew -- For me, if I know the seller's price is way out of line with what the market can handle and still agree to list the property at that price, I feel like I'm leading them to believe that I do think we could get that price. That's what I mean by doing them a disservice.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Paul, Kathleen & Jon -- I agree. I just believe a seller hires me for my knowledge, professionalism, and honesty. To take the listing at the price they want, knowing full well the market simply cannot support it, feels dishonest to me and like my underlying reason for taking it is to give myself more exposure and possibly pick up a couple more buyers -- not to get their house sold, which is what my goal is when I list a home. Just doesn't sit well with me.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

Great post, great discussion and congrats on the Feature. It is well deserved. I want to carve out another thought.  This is a rising market, a quickly rising market.  Many consumers know this and want to price their home higher. Sometimes higher than it will appraise--which can kill a deal with low down payment.  I have a home right now I put on the market at around the appraised value and have had bids 20K higher.  I have made sure that my buyer is putting down a good amount in the purchase, enough to be more than the appraised value. This way I can protect the sale and still get more money for the home in this rising market.

Posted by Larry Lawfer, "I listen for a living." It's all about you. (YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited®) over 7 years ago

Larry -- Those appraisals are a huge concern. One of these houses I referenced in the post had just been appraised last spring for $70,000 LESS than what the sellers listed it for. How on earth do they think this is a good idea? And why would their agent agree to this??

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago

I totally agree with you!  I cannot take a listing that I do not feel comfortable with the pricing.  And like you, we sometimes see them go to someone else and it does not sell...... then they come back to us and tell us they wish they had used our expertise with the market analysis!   We (Lin and I) pride ourselves in being honest with potential clients and we have been well rewarded for this.

Posted by Kim Logan, Kim Logan - Keller Williams Lake Oconee Realty (KELLER WILLIAMS LAKE OCONEE) over 7 years ago

Kim -- I agree that the honesty will result in being rewarded one way or another. Just not worth it to give false hope to someone.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 7 years ago