Always Leave Them Begging For More! (In selling, too…)

Picture this.  Your house is for sale.  At the hardware store last week, you bought one of those clear plastic mail-box looking containers you secure to the “For Sale” sign out at the street.  You have spent $49.00 for some software that can make an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous flyer that installs itself like a cheap virus in the brain of any prospective buyer who unwittingly pulls one out and takes it with him.  It will eat at him until he breaks down and buys your house for his family.

Except it doesn’t work like that. I know the temptation is to vomit out everything you know about your house just hoping you will mention that one magic fact that will cause the viewer to be a buyer.  Allow me to introduce you to the number one most important concept you can ever learn about the art of sales.  I spend a entire chapter on this one concept in one of my sales books.

“Never sell with “blah, blah, blah,” when you can sell with “blah, blah.” That is worth repeating.  If only to yourself.  A lot. The beginners temptation is to just go on and on and on.  The piece of paper you are considering producing, is called by some a “fact sheet.”    Pick a fact, any fact, the most important one.  Like the price.  Don’t put that fact on your fact sheet.  Now it’s called a “conversation piece” rather than a “fact sheet.”

I promise you will have some people call you and ask you how much you are asking or shout at you that you left off the price. At this point lightly slap your forehead like Peter Falk, and say, “I never even thought about that… THANKS!” and then continue your conversation.  Nothing is ever sold until there is a conversation, and now you have one.  You need to invite the prospect to see the interior, see what you have in common, build some rapport.  It doesn’t really matter what you are going to ask for your house, they will offer you something different anyway.  Tell him that you were going to price it higher, but the real estate guy said lower, after you see it tell me what you think. You could almost as easily leave off some other important piece of information.  The important thing is to talk to them.  The second most important thing is to talk to them face to face – at your house. This concept doesn’t have to end at your flyer.  Do this with any printed newspaper advertising you do.  Do it with electronic media to the extent that you can.

Make ’em mad, but make ’em call. For the facts you do decide to reveal, don’t talk or write endlessly.  Make it short and sweet.  Nothing says For-Sale-By-Owner like a flowery text section trying to describe a house.  You will not sell your house right there.  You will only give someone a chance to discover something they don’t like about your house.  Say a little bit and SHUT UP! Your job- your only job right here and now is to gain the interest of a possible home-buyer.

That extra little interest you earn right here you need to invest wisely to increase that interest to the level that the person wants to see your house.  Nothing happens until that person is in your house.  We all know the feeling of “the magic” that happens when someone walks in the right house.  The house will sell itself when that happens, but you can’t do it.  You can only get someone through that door and hope for the best.  We will deal in subsequent installments about how to improve your home’s chances of that magic occurring, but that is not where we are here.

I must add at this time that you should not confuse this concept with the idea of doing anything half-way, or leaving tasks uncompleted.  That is rarely acceptable.   My practice leaves you with a well-done, fully complete media piece that is simply missing something so important that a buyer has to surface, and give you the opportunity to have a chat with them and invite them over to see your house.

Good luck for now! Get to work if you want it to happen. Call me if you want to talk. Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor. Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970. Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at And please don’t forget our book The NEW REAL ESTATE will be out in a few days.  You need to have it on YOUR bookshelf! Don Martin Martin Properties (Flat Fee MLS to Full or Graduated Services in Nashville, TN)

Fishing or Standing On the Riverbank, Looking Stupid?

I’m not sure whether it was Confucius or if it was Mark Twain who once said, “There is only a fine line between fishing, and just standing on the riverbank looking stupid.”   Which ever one said the phrase was exceptionally smart.  You only have to ask yourself ONE question.

“Do I have a baited hook down there in the water?”   That will allow me to attract a fish, capture it,  and pull it out…

That is the one simple question, the answer to which shows whether or not you are serious about eating dinner.

When you have decided to sell ANYthing that you own, the question is almost the same.  Have I done what is necessary to get that fish up out of that water and into my possession?  Do I have a straight-line connection to that entree?  If I’m selling my car or if I’m selling a set of dishes, do I have a straight-line connection to the person who wants my car or wants my set of dishes?

What about if you are trying to sell your house?  The same applies there.  You could put a sign in your yard, but only a handful of the total number of people looking for your house drive by your house every day.  You could put an ad in the paper, but that’s the same in terms of low percentage.  Your fishing line needs to go into a bigger body of water where more hungry fish live.

For selling your house, the answer is obvious.  It needs to be in the Multiple Listing Service.  That’s where all the hungry fish are looking for your house.  There is only one problem.  To get a house into the MLS, you have to be a Realtor.  And for you, a For-Sale-By-Owner, to get a Realtor to put your house in the MLS, you have to list it with him/her and they will charge you a commission.  The commission is not small.  Realtors and their firms also take phone calls about your house, set up showings on your house, receive and negotiate offers on your house, and even sometimes have a number of open houses in your house.  Sometimes they advertise your house.

None of that is free or even cheap.  So what if something different could happen?  What if you could handle the phone calls and the scheduling?  What  if you could also receive and negotiate offers, and even have your own open houses?  What if all you wanted was a Realtor who could counsel you and provide you the correct forms you will need?  What if you just wanted them to put your house in the MLS?  A Realtor who did less like that could serve more customers and therefore charge less per customer!  This is all grossly over-simplified, but those Realtors do exist.

This scenario is not for everyone.  If you are tempted by the sweetness of saving that amount of money on commissions, at least talk to somebody who will level with you about the bitterness of the work involved too, so you will have all the facts before you make a decision.  It is a lot of work, and it’s not for everyone, but it DOES work quite successfully.  My company does that mostly now, and I could quickly count the small number who gave up and turned the total project over to a traditional-type agent.

It is one more tip you can explore to save you a bunch of cash when you go to sell your house.  I have had customers who were apprehensive at first, but presently are actively re-habbing and flipping houses!

Good luck for now! Get to work if you want it to happen. Call me if you want to talk. Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor. Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970

Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at

And please don’t forget our book The NEW REAL ESTATE will be out in a few days.  You need to have it on YOUR bookshelf!

Don Martin

Martin Properties (Flat Fee MLS to Full or Graduated Services in Nashville, TN)

Is Your House Accessible?

There is a list, published electronically, that gives people a forum to offer items or services for sale to the public.  It’s free for an individual to use to post items they want to sell and free for people to look for items they wish to purchase.  It’s a good deal.


It’s also popular because it is free, and because it is not obscure- it’s easy to find and get to.  As a result, it is wildly popular and very effective.  People advertise everything from houses and cars to ideas and services.

All of the people who post an ad in that list have one thing in common.  They want someone who is looking at that list to purchase from them their old refrigerator or their ability to tile your kitchen floor.  Granted there are some who are searching for something to buy, but largely, everyone there wants to sell something.  It is important to them.  Maybe the old item is in the way at their house, or maybe they would rather have some money than the old item.  Or maybe that is how they make a living.  But they are wanting to find buyers!

Yesterday, I happened to be looking for an item that I had decided I would like to have one of, and I found one in that list for sale.  Then two remarkable things happened.

Firstly it took a long time to reach the seller.  This does happen a lot.  Sometimes you are trying to call a telephone number.  Sometimes all you have is an email address.  But after you  you do this a time or two, you realize that the seller does not put in an ad and then wait for you to respond- he goes on with his life.  So, OK, give him that.

Then, when I finally did communicate with him, we emailed back and forth a couple of times.  I was trying to find his area of the city, and when I might get with him to look at and hopefully buy the item he was selling.  Suddenly, as if to stop the electronic give-and-take, he said that he would be happy to let me look at the item, but it would have to be at his convenience.

Now call me old-fashioned or overly-sensitive, but the item was not a cheap item.  It was not an item that very many people would want or need.  And yet, here I was, wanting to buy it.  He could have asked me if a certain time would work for me, or he could have said that the only time he could meet me this week was this other certain time, but instead, he made me feel as though really felt that he was doing me a favor by meeting me.

I guess you know where I am going with this.  Sometimes when people put ad ad in the list of an item for sale, as much as they may want to sell it, they don’t want to deal with the buyers enough to make that happen.  The immediately get the attitude that their item is SPECIAL and so is their time, and they are sure people will beg them for both.

I have talked to many house-sellers who mysteriously catch that same condition.  They act like they are doing a favor to let someone look at and subsequently buy their house.  Therefore, they are justified to place conditions on the prospective buyer.

(You can only see it between 2 and 4 on Saturday afternoon.  You must take your shoes off.  You must have a pre-approval letter.  You must already have your house sold or your apartment lease is about to expire.)  And on and on.

I can only ask, “are you serious?”  The reason you are advertising your old refrigerator or your old house is because YOU WANT TO SELL IT.  You are not giving some lucky person the right to purchase your stuff.  Your stuff is only marginally special.  You need to bend over backwards to make it easy for the buyer to buy it.  You need to make it accessible.

You may need a few people to look at your refrigerator, before one of them decides it will be right for their home.  You may need a LOT of people to look at your house before one of them decides it might be right for their life.  So don’t shoot yourself in the foot.  Even if you absolutely hate meeting prospects, the more you meet, the sooner you can stop.

Good luck for now! Get to work if you want it to happen. Call me if you want to talk. Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor. Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970

Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at

And please don’t forget our book The NEW REAL ESTATE will be out in a few days.  You need to have it on YOUR bookshelf!

Don Martin

Martin Properties (Flat Fee MLS to Full or Graduated Services in Nashville, TN)



From time to time one of my For-Sale-By-Owner customers tells me “I’ve got my house sold- when do I quit showing it?”  They want to do the legal thing, sometimes also the courteous thing, but mostly it seems as though they want to quit the letting prospective buyers in to see their home a bit prematurely.

As I began to write this article, it quickly got out of hand, and became too deep and legal for the scope of this venue.  If you have more interest in the nuts and bolts of the process, I will be glad to talk to you where there is no worry about word-count.

So, item one- is your house “sold?”  Most people use the word “sold” and the word “pending” interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing…  they are both industry lingo, but let’s look at the time-line of the subject house being sold.

First, when the house goes on the market, it is “For Sale” and in Multiple Listing Service lingo to agents it is “active.”  You, as seller, want to show that house to every prospective buyer you can find.

Then, suppose a buyer comes along, and tells the seller that he will, indeed, give the price and buy that house, but he’s got to sell his house first (or get get an inspection, or get a spouse approval, etc.) but it’s still not “sold.”  Of course the offer is worthless until it is in writing, but when it is, and you sign it, too, you have accepted a contingency offer, but you knew enough to have added a “kick-out clause” for your protection,  where we state that the sellers will continue to show the house, and in the event that another acceptable offer comes along, the first prospective buyer understands they will have to find a way to purchase that house WITHOUT whatever the contingency was, or the second buyer prospect will get to buy it.

Your house at this point, is still “active” but with a “contingency.”  Now you, the buyer, will still show any prospects the house, but you will tell them there is a contingency contract on it.  Tell them they can still make an offer, and possibly buy it under the kick-out concept.  This may cut down on the number of showings, but the best surprise is no surprise, and these people should know before they look, but don’t withhold information, but surely don’t refuse to let them look.

Now if and when the contingency gets removed- and this all should be done in writing- then your house is classified as “pending” in the MLS.  At this point usually what could go wrong with the sale is an inability to get a mortgage for one reason or another.  While the house is “pending,” it is still OK to let prospects look at it as long as they know that if they make an offer, it would be a back-up offer in case something goes wrong with the first one.

They may not be inclined to, since after contingency removal and loan approval, usually few things go wrong at this point, and it is just a matter of letting the lender finish up their work and the closing company do its title work.

When the buyer and seller finish up at the closing attorney’s office and the money has changes hands, then, and only then is the house called “closed” and therefore “sold.”  At that time, you as the seller, can feel more secure about not working with every prospect you can find!

I have probably over simplified some of these concepts due to our space limitations, but in the future we will be looking at them individually and in much more detail.  The trick is, this is not intuitive, but it’s not that complicated, either.  There is no reason to fear this process of buying and selling houses, or to think you need to spend a fortune on having someone do everything for you.  DON’T BUY SERVICES YOU DON’T NEED!

Good luck for now! Get to work if you want it to happen. Call me if you want to talk. Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor. Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970

Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at

And please don’t forget our book will be out in a few days.  You need to have it on YOUR bookshelf!

Don Martin

Martin Properties (Flat Fee MLS to Full or Graduated Services in Nashville, TN)


The Funnel

From time to time, I have a customer or a prospect tell me that they felt the right thing for them to do, as they attempted to sell their house, was to restrict showings to people who were pre-qualified for a mortgage somewhere.

That person is making two huge assumptions here.  Firstly, they are assuming that their house is so wonderful, that there will be an abundance of interest from potential buyers who wish to look at it.  And secondly, they are assuming that everybody is sharp and savvy enough to have visited a mortgage lender and completed an approval process prior to house looking.  Well, guess what…

Whether you have an agent selling your house, or you are selling it yourself,  it is not in your interest to put any restrictions on the people you let in to view your house.  You are afraid to invest  any amount of your time on someone who you think may be a waste of that time.  The fact is, that when you decided to sell your house, the investment of your time in that individual who may or may not ultimately want to and be qualified to buy your home became your job.  You need to try to get enough people through that front door, as quickly as possible until the right person comes through and the magic happens.  Hopefully, when that magic happens, that person will either have a sack of cash, or the ability to get a mortgage so that you can get paid.

It would be quite perfect if we could wait and not have to make any effort until we were sure it was made on that ONE prospect who would eventually buy the house.  But since that probably won’t happen, you need to have a plan b.

Plan b is to think of your front door as a funnel.  Your task is to get as many people into that funnel as you can until the right one goes through.  The more people you can get through that funnel, the quicker you will sell your house.  There will be a time, and it will come almost immediately, that you wish there were more people wanting to get into that funnel.  You may even try some marketing of some description to get more people into that funnel.

So, my advice would be to always get people in there and then, you can possibly sort some out, but not in advance, not before they have even had the chance to buy your house.

A very long time ago, when I had been in this business only a few years, I learned a valuable lesson about buyers.  I call it the “Jack Factor.”  I had a house listed for sale in Nashville, and I had it advertised in a small free (to the public) real estate magazine at the time.  A fellow called me and asked several questions about the house.  And then he asked me something about another house on that page that was not my listing.  I assured him that I would love to help him see both houses if that was his desire, and he told me that had already talked to the listing agent for the other house, and that agent was very dismissive of him and told him that the house he was asking about was “pretty expensive.”  That other agent was a fairly high-volume, top agent in the area, but  I try to treat people the way I would like to be treated.

When I met with the fellow (yes, his name turned out to be “Jack”) to show him the houses, he was wearing overalls, and looked as though he wouldn’t be out of place on a farm.   After we spent the afternoon together, I found him to be exceptionally likeable and  financially very capable, but unaware of the fine art of buying a house.  In fact, he was possibly able, though he didn’t totally, for various reasons, pay all cash for the house.  He just didn’t look or act like he had that kind of money.  It was one of the easiest and most pleasant sales with which I have ever been involved.

Needless to say, when I am working with someone to help them sell their house, or trying to show a house to a potential buyer, I occasionally hear that access will only be given to someone holding a pre-qualified letter from a bank.  That only tells me that either they are not that motivated to sell, or they have never had someone take the time to tell them about funnels and reality in the world of real estate sales.  They need to learn about the “Jack Factor.”

Good luck for now! Get to work if you want it to happen. Call me if you want to talk. Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor. Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970

Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at

Don Martin

Martin Properties (Flat Fee MLS to Full or Graduated Services in Nashville, TN)

Happy New Year!

OK, it’s 2014- let’s get started… Please feel free to add comments or question if you wish.  Today we’re going to talk about pictures.

It doesn’t matter whether your house is listed for sale by a Realtor, or if you are selling it yourself with Multiple Listing Service exposure, you need pictures.  Even if you are only exposing your house in some local, on-line website, you need pictures.  People want to see pictures.

Each type of website probably has a limit on the number of pictures, maybe 1,5 or in the case of our MLS, 20.  Put the maximum number that you can.  There is no valid reason to put fewer, even if there are only three rooms in your home, take pictures of the rooms and the exterior from different angles.  Put the maximum.

Take the pictures with the best camera you can put your hands on, even if it’s a phone.  Take them in a horizontal format.  Stand as far back as possible to get as much of the room as you can.  Wide angle lenses are great, but do the best you can with what you have, and make it better if you ever get the chance and upload the new ones.  Look at the picture.  If you had to take one portait-style, make sure to turn it upright so that when you upload it it doesn’t look goofy lying on its side.  If your Realtor is doing the taking, then just look at them as soon as they are uploaded and give your approval.  If any are dark, or out of focus, take those over.  This is of key importance.  It is your home’s first impression.  And, incidentally, I don’t mean to insult your intelligence, but get the extra junk, empty glasses, clothes, and “stuff” out of the scene before you snap the pictures.  I have seen some before that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

The next step is to put these pix in a logical order after uploading.  The process of doing this will vary whether you are doing it your self, or an agent is doing it for his own listing. or if an agent is doing it for you as an MLS listing.  I won’t go into anything that complicated at this point.  Just try to have the primary photo of the front followed by the living area, followed by the kitchen and dining areas, followed by the bedrooms and lastly the yard/deck/patio.  Order is not a deal-killer, but out-of-order is sometimes confusing.

On the final step, again, we won’t deal with process which is different in various places, but it is adding captions to go along with the pictures.  You will have a certain number of spaces for letters.  One place I work with, for instance gives us 250 spaces, so you sit and compose a couple of sentences about the picture with letters and spaces that total 250.  Don’t just say thing like “kitchen,” “bedroom”- people can already see that.  Say something interesting like “new Sub-Zero refrigerator…”  Check to be sure your spelling and word count is RIGHT.  Nobody is going to do it for you, and it will look stupid if it’s wrong.  Bullet-lists also look silly after they are uploaded, so make your comments conversational. as if you were talking to the viewer on the phone.

Remember these pictures are the link to get someone to come and look at your house, the first step.  Until that step is taken, nothing else happens, so these pix are critically important.  The last point I would make is to keep the pictures fresh.  If your house stays on the market over a month, take a new primary picture (the front of the house) from a different angle.  More pix of the inside will be good, but not as important.  You have probably seen before a picture of a house for sale that has snow on it’s roof, but the actual month is June, so keep them fresh.

All these projects are done differently, depending on your circumstance, so I can’t deal with process here but I can individually. if you leave a comment/question.  The main idea for you to take away is that your pictures are possibly the most important thing to you at this point.  Keep them fresh, and do them right, the way that wouldn’t make laugh if you saw them in somebody else’s house.

Good luck for now! Get to work if you want it to happen. Call me if you want to talk. Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor. Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970

Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at

Don Martin

Martin Properties (Flat Fee MLS to Full or Graduated Services in Nashville, TN)

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