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Sticks & Stones Won’t Hurt Worst
Beware of sellers who complain about their own neighborhoods.
Their words may be the biggest threat to a deal.
We live in a world where it has become
too easy to share our opinions publicly.
Social media has given us platforms to
vent our frustrations about anything,
anytime, anywhere to a wide audience,
and now we think we should say out loud
everything that runs through our minds.
Without a doubt, there are benefits to a
society that is more expressive and open
to the exchange of thoughts and ideas.
But we also invite complications, sometimes unknowingly, by failing to acknowledge those times when it’s prudent to
bite our tongues.
In real estate, there’s one prominent
instance—and certainly many others—
where it pays in actual dollars for people
to keep their thoughts to themselves:
when sellers are anxious to get out of a
neighborhood they don’t like anymore
but need a buyer who will fall in love with
it. If sellers gripe freely about where they
live, particularly online, it could get back
to potential buyers and convince them
not to buy in the neighborhood or to
make a lower offer on the sellers’ home.
Home owners outgrow their homes
all the time, sometimes for contentious
reasons. Some may say their neighbor-
hood has gone downhill, the schools are
poor quality, the commute is too long,
or property taxes are too high, and they
can’t wait to get out of Dodge. But instead
of discussing it at the dinner table, they
air their frustrations on social media and
in online forums such as neighborhood
Facebook pages and groups or town-
focused websites. These platforms are
sources of information for buyers, so
loose-lipped sellers are basically telling
every prospective buyer what little value
they feel their neighborhood has. And
that could hurt the sales price they seek.
Even offline neighborhood gripes can
affect the sale of a home. I once worked
with a seller who couldn’t wait to move.
One day, I ran into someone he knew who
told me very loudly in a public place that
the seller had been complaining about
how he hated the town, thought no prop-
erty there could sell for a good price, and
considered the schools to be garbage. A
woman overheard our conversation and
asked, “What God-awful town are you
I don’t know whether this woman was
in the market to buy, but if so, I’m sure she
wouldn’t have considered my seller’s town
after learning his feelings about it. And
who knows how many times she repeated
the story—and how many other potential
buyers she might have turned off?
Sellers should think of themselves as
deputized real estate agents of sorts,
responsible for representing their homes
as positively as we would. An agent would
never undermine a sale by bad-mouthing
the neighborhood; sellers shouldn’t,
either. Every time someone gives an
opinion, someone else is making an eval-
uation based on what that person says.
What sellers say about their home and
neighborhood gives buyers a perception
of the home’s value—and perceived value
The theory of six degrees of separa-
tion—which posits that any two people
on Earth are linked by way of six or fewer
acquaintances—reminds us that we
never know who the person we’re talking
to knows. What we say can have a domino
effect on future dealings. Once, my
husband and business partner, Bob, and
I worked with a buyer who was complain-
ing about a seller to her colleagues. Later,
she texted Bob, embarrassed, saying
the coworker she complained to not only
lived in the same town as the seller but
also was a friend of the seller. (Whoops!)
Advise your clients not to take a bite
out of their own deals and wallets by
talking too much about their own precar-
ious situations. We’ve all been bitten by
something we said or posted that we wish
we could take back. Follow the old adage:
If you don’t have anything nice to say,
don’t say anything at all.
Beverly R. Meaux is a
business coach and assistant
team leader with Keller
in Morristown, N. J.