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Top 5 Most Common Mistakes Listing Agents Make

Everyone makes mistakes, even those seasoned professionals who never seem to falter. Perhaps what sets those great listing agents apart from the not-so-great ones is that they learned from their mistakes. Luckily, you don’t have to live-and-learn when it comes to the most common mistakes listing agents make. We connected with some long-time pros who want to help you learn from their mistakes.

1. Failing to say ‘no.’
“New agents, especially, are eager and sometimes desperate for a sale because commissions are often so hard to come by,” says agent Rhonda Burgess. 

Still, you have to be willing to say “No” to protect yourself and your time. That means declining to work with a client who you feel isn’t a good fit and refusing to cut your commission just to work with someone. Saying “No” when saying “Yes” will be a huge waste of your time, energy and effort.

2. Agreeing to a price that will never sell.
It’s hard when a seller is adamant that “if you work hard enough,” you can sell an overpriced listing. However, if research—and your gut—tells you that the seller’s asking price is way too high, don’t take the listing, advises Burgess.

“If you know that a property will never sell at any price even close to the list price that the seller wants, the best advice is to simply walk away from an overpriced listing and focus instead on finding realistic, eager sellers who understand the value of their home,” she advises. “Remember that 0% of $0 is still $0, and you will end up wasting time and spending marketing dollars on a property that will not sell,” she warns.

3. Being unwilling to educate your clients.
Even if you have multiple clients pulling you in all different directions, you need to spend the appropriate amount of time educating your clients, especially first-time home sellers

As Mark Ferguson, agent, real estate investor and author, says, “Always explain the process of listing to the sellers, even if they act like they know everything. The worst feeling is when you get the figures for closing and the sellers don’t know all the costs they would have to pay.”

Take plenty of time to walk your clients through the process, and encourage them to ask questions. Offering too much information is almost always better than offering too little.

4. Refusing to ‘get real’ with clients.
In the same vein as saying “No,” you have to be able to set clients straight from time to time, says Bruce Ailion an agent in Atlanta. “Imagine a doctor walking out of a patient’s room and saying, ‘That poor fellow has terminal cancer and less than six months to live, but I just didn’t have the heart to deliver the bad news,’” Ailion says. “Like the doctor, our job is to deliver the hard, difficult, unwanted reality concerning the property and the market. If you can’t or won’t do that, you are guilty of professional malpractice,” he adds.

Always be honest and direct with your real estate clients—even if it means potentially losing them as clients.

5. Botching communication with clients.
“The biggest mistake I ever made was not staying in touch with my seller client when nothing was happening,” says Bob Gordon, an agent. “That was when I first got into real estate in the ’90s. Back then, you could go days without a showing or any apparent interest in a house. Had I stayed in better contact, my clients would have understood the market was slow and that their house was priced on the high side. When I eventually surfaced and gave them a call for a price reduction, they were annoyed it was the first time they were hearing from me. I learned my lesson. Since then, I call my clients once or twice a week—I call them before they think to call me,” he adds.

Even when the market is sluggish, he recommends that you send along market updates to clients. Explain what is selling and what isn’t, along with a list of recently closed prices and comparables. Additionally, share feedback that you hear from buyers’ agents regarding the property and price. Communication is absolutely critical.
McKissock Learning is the nation’s premier online real estate school, providing continuing education courses and professional development to hundreds of thousands of real estate agents across the country. As part of the Colibri Real Estate family of premier education brands, McKissock Learning, along with its sister schools Real Estate ExpressSuperior School of Real EstateAllied SchoolsThe Institute for Luxury Home MarketingGold Coast SchoolsThe Rockwell Institute and Hondros Education Group, helps real estate professionals achieve sustainable success throughout each stage of their real estate career. Learn more at

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