20% over asking price

You’ve probably seen this as much as me…

You get a postcard in the mail from an agent in your area with a picture of a recently sold house and the sale price on it. You flip it over and read some copy about how this agent was able to sell this particular house for something like 20% over asking price (or more if you’re near me).

Essentially, this agent is taking credit for the sale price of the home.


I get it. On the surface, maybe this is not such a bad strategy. I do understand how a great agent adds value to the sale price of a home. The prepping, the staging, the photography, the marketing. It all creates a much better image and story of a home that helps the offers come in higher.

But what about all the other factors?

What about the fact that inventory is beyond constrained, demand is beyond red hot, and the pandemic has caused a massive shift of city dwellers to neighborhoods like mine? 

What about the massive wealth that was created in the Bay Area over the last five years through the many tech IPOs that sprouted a cadre of millionaires practically overnight? 

What about sub-3% interest rates that make it practically a steal to borrow money right now?

What about the popular pricing strategy that starts with an absurdly low asking price to begin with?

Given all of this, what story is an agent really telling by taking credit for securing a sale that was vastly over asking price?

The other side of the coin here is that agents are saying they are “responsible” for absurdly high housing prices. Prices that are driving people away from the region. Prices that are keeping a whole army of homeowners like me stuck in their starter homes.

As a homeowner, I’m not so sure that’s the story I want to hear.

Why can’t we just be honest in real estate about what an agent does and does not do?

You know this:

For every new listing, you go over this home with a fine-toothed comb examining details that will attract or deter buyers. You know what to do to get this home in top condition. (Some of you even front the money for repairs.) You read every offer. You develop relationships with other agents. You know every local regulation. You know red flags when you see them. 

You know human emotions too. You know that most times selling a house is much more than a financial event. You know every home is a place where people have built their lives in both small and significant ways.

These things represent your value to sellers. Yet, you often undersell yourself by focusing only on the sale price — arguably, the thing over which you can never accurately claim control. This is why people don’t understand what you do. This is why there will always be outsiders coming in to undercut you.

I would never in my life attempt to sell my home without the help of a good agent. I know better. I’ve spent hours and hours of my life talking to badass agents in depth about what they do, what can go wrong, and what can go right. I’ve met the clowns who don’t do even a fraction of what you do, yet collect the same check.

It’s time to shine a light on your true value — to move the conversation past price. 

Price is important, but it’s not the reason most people sell their homes. And while a home is in many cases the largest asset a person has, you know that its value is often immeasurable. You know because you’ve dealt firsthand with the irrational behavior, the emotions, the things that tip decisions in certain directions. You know that many times there’s just so much more involved than the final price tag.

The money conversation can and will be had throughout your process. But why keep leading with it? As if that’s all that life and homeownership is about?

We all know that is so far from the truth, and that what you do is so much more.