Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Walking Away During a Listing Presentation

Walking Away During a Listing Presentation

Today was the first time in my 7 year real estate career where I wanted to reach across the table, slap the seller, and give him several pieces of my mind with a few choice words... Boy, was it hard to restrain myself!  I ended up just gathering my things, wished him luck, and walked out, but I did get him with one last jab as I walked out.  Here's what happened.

I got a call yesterday about 5pm.  This seller wanted me to come meet him right there and then that evening.  First, I'm not a "Pop-Tart" Realtor who can drop everything and run out the door with the snap of a finger.  Once you give them that control, they'll have it the entire time you're working together.  I suggested two other times, neither of which worked for him, and his attitude was "I guess you don't have time and we need to do something."  And let me preface this with saying, he gave me one option and then said he was leaving town for over a week, but wanted to meet before leaving town.

I finally suggested this morning at 8:30am.  Calling at 5pm last night (with my Father-in-law in town) didn't give me much time to prepare for an appt first thing the next morning, but I did stop a couple of things in order to make it happen before he left town.

I got to the Condo, and was greeted by a massive cloud of smoke.  WOW, was it bad!!  Not only do I suffer from migraines in which cigarette smoke is a big contributer, but I'm 8 months pregnant trying to hold my breath as much as possible.  The man that comes to the door looks to be about 5 foot nothin' and about 70 years.  He takes me around the Condo and every time I ask him about updates or repairs, he shrugs.  He says he bought it from him father who was elderly and too old to do much.  I'm thinking, if this guy is 70, his dad must have been REALLY old!

Anyway, we sit down to talk about numbers, the average Condo that has SOLD in the area in the last 8 months sold for about $61k.  The average Condo for SALE is currently listed at about $82kThe SOLD properties sold, on average, in 88 days at 90.68% of asking priceThe ACTIVE properties are currently active on the market for 105 days.  The Active properties have already had price reductions of about 2%.

Looking at these numbers tells me that the current sellers are not looking at any of the sold activity and are grabbing numbers out "of the air" for lack of keeping this clean.  The seller has already bought a property in Oklahoma and wants to sell immediately.  I explained to him that if his goal is to actually sell his property and to sell it quick, we needed to price according to the sold prices and not the currently active prices since the active prices aren't moving.

He raised his voice at me saying that I can't come into his home and tell him he needs to sell for such and such amount when he wants such and such amount.  I hadn't even told him the price I was thinking yet.  Everything had been in general terms at that point.  I reminded him that a seller can price their property at whatever they want, but if the buyers don't like the price, and if the appraisers can't appraise that high, it's not going to sell.  He reiterated that his property was worth way more than any of the others, and he would only look at this one particular property as a true comp, and it sold for $88,600.  I reminded him that an appraiser must turn in at least 3 comparables and sometimes up to 5.

He got a little irrate, and I thought to myself, "Donna, why bother fighting for this?  He's not happy now, he wasn't happy when you didn't jump and meet him last night, he's never going to be happy no matter what you do for him.  Get up and walk away."

I sat there for a second, and then just reached across the table and gathered all my paperwork.  He tried to reach for the piece of paper with the questions he was supposed to get answered by the HOA, but I wasn't going to leave him any information to help him with whomever he ends up working with.

As I started walking towards the door, I turned around and said one final thing, "This place smells!  How do you expect to sell it when most buyers will just turn around and walk out!"  Yes, I know, shame on me, but I'm 8 months pregnant and I'm allowed to say it how it is!!

Comment balloon 46 commentsDonna Harris • September 26 2007 04:17PM


Donna .... Good for you. If you had taken that listing youwould have been fighting the seller every day....It ain't worth it.

Sean Allen 

Posted by Sean Allen, International Financing Solutions (International Financing Solutions ) almost 13 years ago
Good job!  I have learned when a seller needs you to come over "right now" that it rarely works.  And congrats on the new "soon to be" addition!
Posted by Linda Davis (RE/MAX Home Team) almost 13 years ago

Sean, I know, and at this stage, it ain't worth fighting over a $70k condo.  If it was in a higher price range, I might have folded my hands, smiled, and asked him for his opinions on things.  In this price range, there is nothing to look at but the comps.

Linda, That's exactly why I don't jump when someone says to, and Thank you for the Congrats!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago
Donna--If he was that much trouble prior to you giving a price, just think how the negotiation on the commission would have gone? Cut your losses....Move on and BREATHE!!!
Posted by Teri Eckholm, REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro (Boardman Realty) almost 13 years ago


Sounds like you made a good business decision, you know it wasn't meant to be. Btw, I love your exit...:)

Posted by Suzanne Sands, Somerset MA Real Estate (Pavao Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
KUDOS to you!  I think its great that you had the guts to walk out of there - more of us need to be that strong! 
Posted by Heather Swint (Keller Williams ) almost 13 years ago

Shucks.  I don't know why you even walked into the unit.  The cloud of smoke would have sent me away without any talk about price.



Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Hi Donna! What kind of person talks to a woman that way much less one who is pregnant! You handled it very well. And he's not a client any realtor would want. I don't understand how people can justify such rude behavior. Especially to someone who can help them. Oh well. You're better off without someone who can't seem to remember their manners. :)
Posted by delete account almost 13 years ago

Well done, I would have done the same thing, especially in this market.  Listings tend to be a dime a dozen right now, there's no need to work with a seller who doesn't respect your professional advice.


Posted by Dan Norton (Sand Dollar Realty & Sand Dollar Referrals) almost 13 years ago
Donna-good for you.  There are way to many sellers who are still living in another era when it comes to pricing and condition.  You should delete the comment from linda perez-bad form!
Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 13 years ago

Makes me feel like my day was not so bad afterall.  Good luck.

Posted by Charles Baker (DPR Realty, The Charles Baker Investment Group LLC) almost 13 years ago

Teri, Commissions are non-negotiable in this tiny price range, so that would have been interesting.  And, with the smell all over me and my clothes, I couldn't breathe!  I rushed home before my next appt so I could change clothes and had to leave the windows down for a couple of minutes as the smell carried.  It was horrible!

Suzanne, I always try to make an exit people will remember!!  LOL!

Heather, Thanks!  It was definitely a first.  It felt great, and I think I'll do it more often!!

Lenn, I definitely hesitated as I walked in.  I also almost asked him if we could open the door to air things out.

Pamela, I definitely have the property on my list to check MLS to see what agent does end up listing it.  More than likely, it'll be a guy.  With him being a much older (grumpier) man, he probably will only listen to another man.

Dan, Thank you!

Cindy, Thank you, and yes, I marked that comment as spam.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago
Charles, You're LUCKY!!  I had to START my day like this, so you can imagine the tone in my voice talking with people during the immediate hour that followed before I could cool off!!
Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago


Congrats on your courageous move. If you can't make sense with a customer no matter how hard you try, it's time to pack up and leave. Unfortunately there are customers like that, making these quick appointment demands etc., and past experience has taught me that if they don't settle for when your schedule allows, it's not worth it.

Posted by Esko Kiuru almost 13 years ago
Donna, I wish more agents were like yourself. I get so many agents in my office who will go ahead and list with people like that and then I (the broker) get the call from the mad seller who is unhappy because my agent didn't wipe his bottom for him. It drives me crazy. People can be so rude to realtors. Good Job! You did the right thing.
Posted by Mary McCleskey & Michelle Gumeny (Assist-2-Sell, Home Buyers & Sellers Realty, Inc.) almost 13 years ago


I have found that people want us to JUMP on there time, are not the ones I want to work with. I did a listing appoinment last year and the seller almost came across the table at me, he was so mad at the price I told him.

I gathered my stuff together very quickly too, told him best of luck. They did find a Reator who listed it for what they wanted and they chased the market down, down, down. Further than I had told them and it sold for less. Tee hee.

I will NOT be spoken to be treated like that ? EVER. Good job.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) almost 13 years ago

Esko, True, very true!

Mary, Thank you! 

Missy, Thanks!

ANd for the record, I've listed with angry sellers in the past, but they've only turned angry when they didn't get an offer in a week and had higher expectations than what I had set forth for them...  if their attitude had come forth in the listing appts, those people never would have become clients either!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago

You go, girl!  Good for you!

Posted by Cheryl Johnson almost 13 years ago
Donna-  the whole time I was reading this, I was just itching for you to GET OUT OF THE SMOKE!!  It's bad enough when you're NOT pregnant!  You did the right thing...
Posted by Sandi Bauman, Chico CA Realtor (Chico Homes Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Very good choice, this seller would never understand why his home wasn't selling.  It is a tough enough market for sellers without them acting this way!  Good luck with you remaining few weeks until your new baby arrives.
Posted by Nancy Siau, Selling Coastal SC (The Lachicotte Company An Exclusive Affiliate of Christie's ) almost 13 years ago
Donna, Good for you! Imagine the headache you would have had if you did list the wishes with the upcoming birth of your baby, keep them feet up!
Posted by Debbie Malone, From Lynchburg To The Lake (434) 546-0369 (Londeree's Real Estate & Property Management) almost 13 years ago

Cheryl, Thank you!

Sandi, Believe me, I wanted out so bad, but kept trying to ignore it.  I even took a long look at the backyard so we wouldn't  have to go inside too quickly.

Nancy, You're right, and thank you!

Debbie, And that headache would come from both the seller and the nasty smoke!!  Thanks for the wishes.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago
That is an OK thing to do!  When I am on a listing appointment I have a book with all my research in it...I ask the seller, "What number did you have in mind?"  They always try to say "That's why you are hear!"  I just tell them I want to make sure we are all reading on the same page.  If they blurt out an outrageous price, I close my book, place it back in my bag, and say "Wrong number!"  It really works quite well because it is humorous!  It gets their attention, and we continue with the presentation on my terms.
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (Maximum One Executive REALTORSĀ®) almost 13 years ago

Its been a good week for me also!! I lost a listing this week and I'm like you--its for the best--saves me time, money and aggravation. Let me explain...

This seller  bought a condo 11 months ago --I sold it to them at 345K(new build--ultra modern home right smack in in an area of all old homes) and now the husband has taken a job in the northeast, they HAVE to sell and they insist the home is worth 550K!! Now we are in Austin Texas--a good  market but not 200K increase in 11 months  good and the market is  beginning to slow somewhat. My comps say 380-390K at best.  I told them all the usual stuff...needs to appraise,(she thinks someone will give them cash and it won't be an issue), time on market vs what they will pay out in mortgage payments, wasting the most opportune time to sell, etc etc. All very nicely stated. And they decided to go with another agent that was after they emailed the lender that did the loan on it and asked him his thoughts on doing a FSBO. I really think the old adage of its best to be the 1st child, 2nd wife and 3rd realtor is correct. We had a very good relationship all the way up to the point that I told them what I thought the house would sell for....after that they didn't want to hear another word...I really hope they don't call me back in 6 months when the housedoesn't sell...uggg--sometimes you are right--you just want to slap some sense into 'em!!!

 Like someone said on another post...we can't sell $35 tubes of toothpaste no matter how much marketing we do.....

Posted by Ann Banos, Broker, Real Living (Real Living, LifeStyles Realty) almost 13 years ago

Jim, That's pretty funny.  I've never done it like that to get the humor.  I have asked what they thought the number would be and when their number is way off, I tell them to keep an open mind when we go through the information so they can see things clearly.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Ann, I can't believe they would want $200k more in under a year!  That's ridiculous!!  And to get $380k from $345k in under a year is fantastic!  My in-laws all live in Austin, and Father-in-law was in town earlier this week asking about our market here in Dallas.  My response, "not as good as Austin's!"  He was a little surprised.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago

That would have been quite a site, you reaching across the table and slapping the seller!!!  HAHAHA. 

Posted by Chad Baird (Re/Max Spirit) almost 13 years ago
Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) almost 13 years ago

Hi Donna,

Well, good for you!  I posted something last week that speaks to this post.  Be careful what you wish for because you might get it.  Those are usually the ones that you end up wishing you didn't get so I would say this one was a gift to "not" get. 

Posted by Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Keller Williams Valley Realty) almost 13 years ago
I have walked out so many times on unrealistic sellers.  It is probably the thing that makes me feel the most "free" in this business.  Afterall that's why we got into it, right?  To work for ourselves and that certainly includes being able to pick and choose our clients.  Setting expectations is important, but no one said anything about being a doormat for people!  Whenever faced with this situation at the listing appointment...I mean a client that is fighting you every step of the way and you can see the handwriting on the wall...I would ask myself a simple question to determine if I wanted to proceed or walk away.  "Would I invite this person to my home for dinner?"  If I answered no, then I would politely explain that it was obvious I was not the right agent for the job and excuse myself.  Talk about FREEDOM!  Listing property to me is a bit like a short term marriage.  It takes nurturing, comittment, dedication, loyalty, etc.  If the other party was not up to the challenge, why bother?  You did the right thing.
Posted by Jason Lopez (SmartRealty Solutions) almost 13 years ago

Good for you Donna.  Sometimes it's just not worth it. I agree:  if you give an inch, they will take a mile!! People just never cease to amaze me sometimes how these 'arm chair quarterbacks' think they know the market, when this is our full time job!!

Ahhh, don't get me started!

Good luck with your new baby!



Posted by Terrie L. Forrest (RE/MAX Results) almost 13 years ago
I'm so glad you said what you wanted to say! It must have felt sooooo good! Kudos to you!
Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) almost 13 years ago

GRRR! I have had 2 buyers give me heck this week over pre-approval letters. The first one I let get to me the 2nd I wished them luck...

It's soooo hard to keep your mouth shut all the time - especially for me, and at least you had an excuse!

Posted by Leigh Bates, The Trinity Group (Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Good For You!  It's hard enough to sell a dump much less an overpriced, smokey dump that probably needs many repairs.  If you did get an offer, this guy would fix anything anyway.  Move on to better things!  Life too short to deal with jerks!
Posted by David Slavin, CDPE, ABR, SRES Keller Williams Premier (Keller Williams Premier) almost 13 years ago
Go, Donna, Go!!!  I love your parting shot, even though you did help him out with useful information on why his condo won't sell.
Posted by Robin Willis, CDPE, SRES, Designated Broker (Tucson Expert Agents LLC) almost 13 years ago
Way to go. I wouldn't have walked in to begin with not being pregnant and hitting all of that smoke.  Tom's widget is hilarious.  Gotta keep that one, for those days to remind you that it was worth it.
Posted by Melina Tomson, Principal Broker/Owner, M.S. (Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon) almost 13 years ago

Donna, Terrific Job! You acted professionally from your description. No one should have to put up with rude people who don't want to hear the facts.

I tell my sellers "I don't price your home and you don't price your home. - The market does. I show you the facts and then we determine the best price based on those. Even then there isn't a guarantee that we will get that price but I will certainly do my best."

Posted by Phillip Cross, ePRO Realtor - Relocation Spec (TBD - In transition...) almost 13 years ago
Way to go.  There is something that feels so right about walking out on a listing that you do not want.  "Do you want me to list your home or sell your home?"  I am always prepared to walk on a listing if it looks like the seller is going to be impossible.
Posted by Jeff Payne, Panama City Real Estate (The Payne Group at Keller Williams Success Realty) almost 13 years ago
Good job! Thank you for sharing your experience so that i can learn from it and use it!
Posted by Luke Hilliar (Ready Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Congratulations on knowing when to "fold em". I would have thrown up in his garbage can being pregnant. While I was pregnant with all 6 of my kids I had a very weak stomache. I have a seller right now that is just like you described. Gotta love em. HE told me he'd burn down his house before he'd let it sell for less than he wants for it!! HE reminds me of a chihauha though. All bark and no bite. I just ignore most of what he says and concentrate on the important issues which he somewhat listens to when he is through ranting.
Posted by Cheri Smith, Realtor Prudential Gary Greene (Prudential Gary Greene, Cypress TX) almost 13 years ago
Awesome!  It's nice to what it takes for agents to finally just call it quits on a client.  I loved your exiting comment.  Good job!
Posted by Delete Me Now Please almost 13 years ago
Good for you, who needs a $50,000 property listing anyway!  The cheaper listings ALWAYS require the MOST work!
Posted by Mike Klijanowicz, Associate Broker @ Cummings & Co. Realtors (Cummings & Co. Realtors) almost 13 years ago
You did the right Thing ...Good For you!
Posted by Traci Ann Lloyd (Exit Realty Premier Inc ) almost 13 years ago


I like your BOLD move! I know what you mean when you say the place smells and it is not worth taking that listing. Good job the 2 of you (the baby that is)!


Posted by David Dee, Real Estate - San Gabriel Valley (L.A.) & N. Orang (RMX REALTY) almost 13 years ago
You did the right thing by walking out. I can't believe that people think we as REALTORS should just drop everything when they call. You are much better than me...I probably would've told the guy that coming into his home is not in the best interest of you and the baby. Good for you taking control and getting out of there!
Posted by Darleen McCullen, Broker - Raleigh, NC Real Estate almost 13 years ago

Good for you and Baby Harris Momma Donna! You didn't need that treatment or that client. Sometimes you do have to walk away.  I've done it twice myself in less than a year and I've never once regretted it.

Hope you're feeling good these days your world is about to change soon!

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, (Home Star Staging) almost 13 years ago
This guy was bad news from the start.  The smoke alone would have stopped me at the door.  Good for you in giving him a healthy dose of reality!
Posted by Maria "Antoinette" Scognamiglio, GRI, ASP, There's no substitute for EXPERIENCE! (Coldwell Banker Realty) almost 13 years ago