How I Made $16,950 by Opening the Door for a Termite Inspector

Got your attention?

I sure hope so. If not, please have someone check your pulse.

R.A.R.E. Agents know that quick and easy real estate sales are possible...but highly uncommon. They also know that "lucky" transactions are not the result of luck at all as they occur when you invest hours upon hours of time learning the business of real estate along with investing an equal amount of time building your sphere of influence.

Case in point:

Not that long ago, I had a listing that was not selling. The first mistake I made was allowing the seller to convince me to list the home for a much higher price than I recommended. We sat on the market for weeks...and months...with occasional showings followed by agent feedback telling me that my listing was overpriced. No sh+! Sherlock. Rub it in.

My second mistake was when me (or my wife) would personally show the home and hear our buyer's say that the home was "overpriced" -- and I failed to share this with my seller.

I suppose down deep inside I believed that someone...someday...very soon... would make an offer.

Eventually, I celebrated the worst day in the life of a listing..... a listing's BIRTHDAY.

Or maybe it's an anniversary?

Either way, passing the 1-year-on-the-market stage is nothing to celebrate.

I share this story with you in effort to be completely transparent and illustrate how even I, your humble R.A.R.E. Agent founder, can fall victim to something I call process weakness -- knowing the right thing to do, but not doing it. Thankfully, I got back on track after the 1-year wake-up call.

A lot of things can happen to a home when it is on the market for a year (with nobody living in it). The landscape will need to be trimmed, the pool will need to be serviced, light bulbs will burn out, windows will need to be cleaned, smoke detector batteries will need to be replaced, the house will need to be dusted, HVAC will need to be seasonally checked (that's an Arizona thing), and in the case on my birthday listing...a termite treatment will need to be scheduled!

That's what happened after my wife showed the home one Sunday afternoon and noticed one of those pesky little subterranean termite tubes in the garage. Thankfully, she knew what she was looking at (she has invested a lot of time learning the business) and more importantly, knew what to do next.

Together, we called the owners to share the news that their vacant home...that we were having a hard time selling...and had been on the market for over a year...had termites. Talk about a call we were not excited to make!

The seller informed us that the home had termites in the past, and the company that treated the property included a warranty to re-treat should those hungry wood-eating pests ever return. So the sellers called to schedule the retreatment and since they now lived out of the area, they asked me if I would meet the termite company and give them access to the inside of the property to do the job.

To which I responded... "of course I will!"

Truth be told, I would do just about anything for these sellers to keep them from firing me as their listing agent (I told you I was being transparent!)

So my job was simple. Meet the termite inspector and the termite treatment technicians at the house and unlock the door to give them access so they could treat the unwanted termites.

Now that the stage has been set, here comes the R.A.R.E. Agent lesson.

On the morning the termite inspection was scheduled, I decided to get dressed like I would if I was going on a listing appointment. I was going to meet a termite inspector who would verify the existence of termites and authorize the retreat service, but so what? As a R.A.R.E. Agent, I have an image to keep up.

I grabbed my iPad, my briefcase, a handful of property flyers and some business cards and off I went to meet the termite guy. We arrived at the house at the same time. I introduced myself and told him I would open the doors to the house and garage, turn on the lights, adjust the HVAC (it was summer) and meet him inside to show him where the active termite tubes had been seen.

His entire inspection process took about 30 minutes. The important part of this is that I did not leave him alone. I stayed with him every step of the way. I did not go sit in my car. I did not stand in a corner and check Facebook or eMail.

I did not take my attention off of him.

When he completed his inspection, he informed me that the retreatment would be authorized and scheduled and he would call me with the time so I could meet the actual technicians on site. Job (almost) done for today.

But before he left, I asked him an all-important question:

"Sir, before you go, may I ask you your opinion of this home?"

He was taken back a bit as I continued: "You see, this home has been on the market for over a year, and for the life of me I can't understand why! I have personally made sure we maintained the landscaping, serviced the pool, replaced burned-out lightbulbs, cleaned windows, changed smoke detector batteries, dusted the home, had the HVAC checked and even lowered the price several times...but even with all of that, I have been unable to find a buyer. Your value your opinion and would love to walk you through the home and have you tell me why you think it has not sold."

And you know what he said to me?

He said: "Sure, show me around!"

So I did.

I proceeded to walk him around my 4,300sf listing as if he were a guest at my open house. I pointed out the many features and the value of the upgrades. I talked about how the home was priced in line with recent sales. I even pointed out a few items that needed attention and a few maintenance issues needed to be addressed.

I told the story of the community and the amazing amenities available to the homeowners who lived in the area, All in all, it was a solid real estate presentation...if I must say so myself.

What happened next blew me away!

He turned to me and asked: "Do you sell homes in other areas?"

I said: "YES! as a matter of fact, I do. Selling homes is what I do...every day!"

Then he said: "My aunt passed away a couple of months ago and my brother and I inherited her home. It's a beautiful home in a lakeside community worth somewhere between $550,000-$650,000. After hearing how hard you are working to sell this home, I would like for you to come and take a look at the house and tell us what you would do to sell it."

Fast-forward 6 days and the brothers hired me to sell the home they inherited. Fast-forward 47 more days and I had the lakeside home under contract. Fast-forward 21 more days and I cashed a $16,950.00 gross commission check.

Why did I share this story?

For several reasons:

  1. I am just as capable as you are to overprice a listing...and it's never a good idea.
  2. Listing Birthdays (and Anniversaries) are not necessarily something you want to celebrate.
  3. Always communicate with your clients what you are doing to sell their home.
  4. Being a "Salesperson", a.k.a. "Selling" is your highest paid skill. Always be READY to SELL.
  5. Understand that every day is a new day filled with new opportunities to meet new people.
  6. Your personal real estate listings will open the door for you to meet people.
  7. Never underestimate the value of making new relationships.
  8. Serve your clients. They hired you and they are paying you to get the job done for them.
  9. Always do your best to look your best. Look like a professional, act like a professional and be a professional -- at all times.
  10. Did I say "Always be READY to SELL?"

It's easy to slip into process weakness and not do what you know you need to do. But as soon as you recognize what is happening, change course and get back on track.

That's what R.A.R.E. Agents do.