If your home is on the market, a real estate professional will likely be a key component in getting your home sold. According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly 90 percent of all sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home last year.
For sellers, having a good real estate pro can aid you in selling a home faster, and often at a higher price.
But what if you make the mistake of saying the wrong thing to your real estate agent? You may not realize that some of the things you say can slow down the process, derail a sale or even cause your agent to dump you.
Here are three things sellers should never say to a real estate agent or broker:
1. "I don't want to disclose that."
Some sellers, in their zeal to unload their properties, attempt to avoid disclosing information to buyers that must legally be disclosed. This may include factors such as water damage, termites or the existence of a property easement.
And not only will sellers keep this information private, they'll also ask their agents to do the same.
"So sometimes a client might basically say, 'I want you to represent me, but I want you to lie on my behalf in some way.' And then I have to say, 'I'm sorry, but I can't do that,'" says John Mijac, an associate broker with Old Adobe Realty in Tucson, Ariz.
While disclosure laws can vary in different states, Mijac says, "When I represent a client--whether they're a buyer or seller--I have fiduciary responsibilities." Mijac adds that he's "bound by law and by ethics" to deal with both parties in good faith.
Besides, it's to a seller's advantage to disclose everything. "When you disclose, it's a legal protection for you in the future," he says.
2. "I'm the only one who really knows what my house is worth."
It's not uncommon for a seller to think their home has a higher value than other comparable homes. But pity the seller who is downright stubborn in sticking to a wholly unreasonable and unjustified listing price.
"If they have way high, ridiculous expectations of the value of their house, that's going to be a problem," says Rick Cordisco, owner of Pocono Mountain Lakes Realty in Blakeslee, Pa.
Such sellers may flat-out refuse to negotiate at all. Those who do budge on price—grudgingly--often start to nitpick with buyers over small issues.
"This tells me that they're really not motivated to sell," says Cordisco. "And in this market, I'm not willing to waste the time, resources or money to promote an over-inflated listing."
3. "Can you take 50 percent off your normal commission?"
Cathy Turner, an associate broker with Solid Source Realty in Atlanta, says real estate agents and brokers recognize that commissions are negotiable.
"I even tell people that," Turner says. "But it bothers me when they get ridiculous about asking for an unreasonably low commission."
Many agents--Turner included--will be quick to defend their commission and tell a seller why they're worthy of a full commission. But agents say they have no problem with shaving their commissions for legitimate reasons--such as when a home seller is nearly underwater and the sale of a home plus commissions would pose a financial hardship.
"Still, I try to remind sellers that another agent or brokerage company will be involved," says Turner. And many agents won't beat a path to a seller's door if they know there's only a razor-thin commission to be earned. "So don't make the commission too low because that could cause your home to stay on the market longer," Turner cautions.
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®, is a personal finance expert, television and radio personality, and the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestseller "Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom." A former Wall Street Journal reporter for CNBC, Lynnette has appeared on such national TV programs as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil, The Today Show and Good Morning America. She can frequently be seen as a guest commentator on CNN, MSNBC, ABC and FOX Business Network. Follow Lynnette on Twitter @themoneycoach or visit her free financial advice blog at AskTheMoneyCoach.com.