Short Sale Sellers Self Sabotage

When a seller requests an agent to list a short sale,  they are in effect asking us to help prevent them from going to foreclosure – they are seeking a dignified way to exit their state of default. 

At the outset,  the seller is easy to work with and willing to do what is necessary to market the property, by de-cluttering, and allowing the REALTOR® to paint and stage the property for a faster sale.  The seller is also more than willing to allow agents and buyers to preview the home and to vacate the property during Open House days.

Having spent 4 days painting and staging,  the once dingy house looked magnificent – clean, tidy and perfectly color-coordinated and everyone who viewed the house during that first month commented favorably.  We got a SLEW of Offers! 

What mental transformation takes place in the seller from the second and third month, resulting in the total sabotage of the sale?

  •  The seller leaves the house with socks hanging out of draws, toothpaste ‘spit’ in the bathroom sink, remnants of last nights dinner still on the stove top and dirty dishes in the sink
  • The house has not been cleaned since the first day on the market, the dog has not been bathed in weeks and is stinking up the house and his promise to not smoke inside the house has clearly been broken!
  • There are ‘things’ growing inside the ‘frigerator and the garden is overgrown!
  •  The seller says that it is not convenient for the agent to bring a buyer at that time (ANY time)! 

When my seller and I had our ‘Come to Jesus’ talk,  his reasoning was simple: “While you are out celebrating at the sale of my house,  just remember that I have lost everything and have no reason to be happy!”

At this stage,  both REALTORS® and buyers have become the enemy and the seller believes that if he/she cannot have the house, no-one will, but sadly,  they don’t consider the alternative:  Foreclosure, eviction and devastating effects on their credit.

As with any loss,  a short sale or foreclosure comes with a grieving process for the seller/owner and REALTORS(R) need to explain this to them at the first meeting.  They need to be advised of the various levels of grieving and that each level is followed by another, but that each level does pass.  If they know this up front,  they will be better prepared to handle it.


Althea Garner

Exit Beach Cities Realty
Your House Of Homes Online
(714) 264-3458

Search over 50,000 listings at my web site:

Women’s Council of REALTORS(R):
Treasurer – 2008 (Coastal-West)
Education Chairperson – 2009 (South County)
Education Committee – 2009 (California State)

Orange County Association of REALTORS(R):
Education Vice Chair – 2009

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I’ve been writing a lot of articles on short selling lately for different folks, but that’s an interesting aspect that I never considered, that being the seller’s changing mindset as time goes by. It also explains why so many people of supposed quality are trashing these nice and formerly expensive homes on the way out. When one feels as though they’ve lost everything, they forget that they’re still human, and need to retain their dignity.

    Good perspective.

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