5 Ways To Make a Good Deal Feel Bad

I closed a transaction yesterday with great clients. They were responsive, realistic and enthusiastic. I was saddened that by the time we got to the closing table they were irritated and kind of emotional about the whole thing. Why? Because the sellers were not cooperative and not forthcoming with information during the transaction.Sold Sign

This is the thing...it was a good transaction for all involved. We offered asking price and were reasonable on the Home Inspection negotiations.  We gave the sellers their preferred closing date. The buyers were well qualified and flexible. The sellers were able to close the sale and move on to their new home. It was a win-win! So why were my folks left feeling so dispirited on what should have been a happy day? The sellers just did not make an effort--in fact they almost did the opposite.


Here are 5 ways that an uncooperative seller can leave the buyers feeling less than happy at closing:


  1. Don't clean the house after you move. We have a 'broom clean' clause in our Virginia contract. As you can imagine, it is virtually unenforceable. If you really want to irritate the buyers, leave stuff in your cabinets, trash around the house (but not so much that they can really raise a stink), don't run the vacuum or sweep and cancel the trash service,  leaving the cans full.
  2. Be sure to keep all info about the house to yourself. We requested paint colors about 6 weeks before settlement. My clients wanted to get the house painted before moving in and really liked the sellers colors. The sellers waited until the week before settlement--even after being asked through their Realtor many, many times--to provide them.
  3. Ignore all requests for information. Along the same lines, we asked 6 weeks ahead for information on their moving schedule so that we could set up our walk-through since we were set to close the day after a long weekend.  Radio silence. When we finally just told them our schedule, they threw a fit, saying it was inconvenient and they would not cooperate. Thanks. We could have done this pleasantly or we could do it this way--with everyone feeling put out.
  4. Refuse to do things that you really need to do. We saw some carpenter bee damage at our first visit. They refused to fix it when we put it on the home inspection addendum. When the pest company came out and identified it, professionally, as carpenter bees, they then were subject to fix it according to the contract. They could have replaced the deck board, or as they opted to do, they could just throw some unidentified compound in the holes that neither hardened nor matched the wood finish and call it a day. Of course, we were left fighting for a credit before closing. Which we got. Again, choose the easy way or the hard way.
  5. Make your buyers feel like you are doing them a favor by selling the house. In general, every response and every request was met either with silence or anger by the sellers. Why? We gave them their asking price and their settlement date. I am one of those agents who feels that all deals go more smoothly when we work together toward a mutually beneficial closing. In other words, I was not a jerk about things--while still looking out for my clients interest. Yet all of their responses were uncooperative and unnecessarily angry. Why? Maybe they didn't want to move, but come on, suck it up and behave like adults.

When you sell your home, you can approach it one of two ways; you can be gracious and fair or you can be a jerk. In the end, the outcome is the same, but in one instance, everyone feels good about things and in the other, no one does. Why can't we all just remember the golden rule?


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Comment balloon 30 commentsHolly Weatherwax • July 07 2015 08:09AM


LOL these are very true! The Golden Rule is always a great guideline. I had a client that had the home professionally cleaned, left a packet of information on the counter, and bought a bottle of champange for the buyers! Great people :)

Posted by Realty Executives NOLA (Realty Executives NOLA - Kim Higgins, Realtor/Owner - Greater New Orleans & Northshore Area Real Estate) about 2 years ago

That's why you hear me saying I would never want to do your job. Life's too short to be a jerk. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) about 2 years ago

Don't you hate it when someone ruins a happy ending?

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, JD, MA, REALTOR, CalBRE # 01871795 (Mint Properties, Tni LeBlanc (805) 878-9879) about 2 years ago

Holly - this post could be it's own flyer to give to sellers/new listings.  Excellent post, so true, and so very simple...

Posted by Dena Wilcoxen, Bonita Springs/Naples, FL - (239) 989-2436 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty) about 2 years ago

Buyers can do their own version of turning a sweet deal sour, too. But it's always a shame. 

Posted by Teri Buchanan, Seniors Real Estate Specialist, ABR in Napa Valley (RE/MAX Gold Napa) about 2 years ago

I always wonder about the Listing Agent's role in uncooperative transactions.  A good listing agent can often establish the seller's expectations.  For example,  I ask my sellers to pay for a professional cleaning crew after they vacate whether or not the buyer asks.  I coordinate access, and have an estimate for cleaning in my net sheet so they expect it.

Posted by Lloyd Binen, Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411 (Certified Realty Services) about 2 years ago

And part of this fault must be shared with the Seller's agent. They are the person that can share with their Seller's the best ways to work with others. I am sorry for the problems, but we really do have agents who have no clue how to do this job and get to win-win.  Glad it closed move on to the next. Great post.

Posted by Larry Lawfer, "I listen for a living." It's all about you. (YourStories Realty Group) about 2 years ago

Thankfully, I have seen far more cordial exchanges than not. However, I am sometimes left shaking my head and asking how some people can be so spiteful.

Posted by Chris Lima, Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you. (Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise) about 2 years ago

I have seen more angry/less cooperative sellers than buyers in my career. Either way, it makes for unnecessary stress on us all!

Posted by Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, ... a small office, delivering big service! (Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC) about 2 years ago

The golden rule makes EVERTHING better!  The sellers agent seems to be as much of a problem as the sellers in this story.  Some people don't get it.

Posted by Kathleen Frawley, South County Sacramento, 916 730 4404 (Keller Williams 916 730-4404 Elk Grove, Wilton, Folsom, Sacramento) about 2 years ago

It is just a general issue of common decency.  I suspect in other aspects of their lives they are equally self centered.  

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) about 2 years ago

I don't know what it is, but some people just want to drag their feet....zig when everybody else wants to zag....make things as hard as they can, not as easy. It is not always easy to predict how people are going to react during the process when you first meet. 

Posted by Sarah, John Rummage, Love Being Realtors® in the Nashville TN Area! (Benchmark Realty LLC, Nashville TN 615.516.5233) about 2 years ago

I suspect that the sellers in this deal were not happy with it. Maybe they felt that the price was too low even tho it was the full asking price.

Seller remorse may be more common than we might think.


Posted by Thomas McCombs (Century 21 HomeStar) about 2 years ago

It is unfortunate that blind logic took over and the sellers just had to be obstinate throughout. 

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) about 2 years ago

Why didn't you mention the listing agent?  Maybe the sellers didn't want to deal with you directly.  I know that whatever side of the deal I am on, I get frustrated with 18 people calling me when it can be funneled through the other agent.

Posted by David Barr (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty) about 2 years ago

Oh yes all can be deal killers.  Always amazed how many of these instances continue to occur over and over.

Posted by Paula McDonald, Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury) about 2 years ago

We've all faced situations like this when one party is uncooperative, and it's so unnecessary. What should have been a happy time for your buyers turned sour, for no apparent good reason. We need to nominate you for a Featured Post as well as Bartender Make It a Double!

Posted by Pat Starnes, Broker Associate, ABR (Front Gate Real Estate) about 2 years ago

Thanks, everyone, for reading of my frustration. I know we have all been there. I suspect that there was some seller remorse, but the fact is they were relocating and they had to move one way or another. Combine that with the fact that we made our offer and then our market slowed dramatically , you think they would have been pleased.

And yes, I only worked through the listing agent. I would never interfere with that relationship. I am not sure they made it easy on him, either.

Oh well, onward to the next one!

Posted by Holly Weatherwax, A Great Real Estate Experience ( Associate Broker, Momentum Realty) about 2 years ago


Posted by Pat Starnes, Broker Associate, ABR (Front Gate Real Estate) about 2 years ago

We have the same broom swept condition clause here in Arizona. The overwhelming majority of the time sellers adhere to it but there's always that one who doesn't. 

Posted by Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert, Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com (Zion Realty) about 2 years ago

Can certianly relate to this post.

Currently going through a transaction where every one seems to be a bit of a 'jerk'. I'm doing my best not to be but unfortunatly I have a seller who has been 'difficult' to say the least. There is a buyer who has a Trip[le Type 'A' personality and the buyer's agent has cursed me out on two different occasions.

I 'think' the issues are behind us and we are scheduled to close in 12 days. Yee Haw!!

Posted by Keith Whited (RE/MAX Gateway) about 2 years ago

Holly Weatherwax  - and surprisingly, this happens more often in Seller's market!

Isn't that small thing that should matter most when leaving your lovely home in someone's hand?

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (eXp Realty) about 2 years ago

When expectations are high, easy to be let down. Back to basics: under promise, over deliver. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) about 2 years ago

That's an accurate list of things that can make a good deal feel bad.  None are terribly big things, but it's often the little things adding up that leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) about 2 years ago

During the option period after inspections, I go over the inspection report of the necessary repairs and write in property to be professionally cleaned for immediate move-in condition. I prefer to do a walk=through and ask for a list of repairs that have been completed according to the agreement and make sure the property has been cleaned.  This is usually a couple (2-3)days ahead of closing. I remind the listing agent of the agreement.

Posted by Theresa Akin (CORPUS CHRISTI REALTY GROUP) about 2 years ago

Not every transaction is perfectly completed, some Realtors are affected but there are many who aren't, so, hopefully this will be your last. Sometimes we must be cheerleaders, coaches or preachers.

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) about 2 years ago

I have a home inspection on Friday, and hoping the sellers will cooperate as they say nothing is wrong with property...yeah, how do they know as they haven't had an inspection and the house has been a rental. 

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (RE/MAX Vision Quest) about 2 years ago

I think we've all experienced this to some degree, which is really sad.  Makes us appreciate those sellers that care enough to leave a home in tip top shape.  At a recent sale, the seller left a bottle of wine for my buyers. They were thrilled!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) about 2 years ago

When working with buyers I warn them of issues that can arise, especially if I detect issues throughout the transaction.  I have even had clients that wanted to walk out of settlement and the seller's would be in a pile of ....!  But in the end I sit them down and remind them of all the great things reasons they wanted to purchase the home. 

Again if I detect issues, I will have someone on "stand by" to correct the issues at the house before my clienjts get there.  Sometimes we have to be proactive and assertive.  

At settlement when one side of the table is doom and gloom, our side will ignore the grumps and enjoy the moment.  Kill them with kindness.  Life is too short!  Great post

Posted by Matt Keough, New Castle County, DE, Matt Keough Agent New Castle County Delaware (Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate) about 2 years ago

I've always thought that selling or buying a home brings out the best or worst in people. It's definitely a test of character. The agents involved carry their own baggage. Just about any Realtor can sell a home, the true test of a Realtor is the closing process. When I first began as an agent I was having trouble with my sellers on a particular closing. A seasoned & experienced agent in my office heard me complaining and stated "give it to me, I'll close it successfully." I'll never forget those words, and I rarely have deals fall apart. Skip the drama during the closing process. Let full disclosure and realistic thinking prevail. As your client's agent, go the extra yard to help!

Posted by Tod Jenning over 1 year ago

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