Jacki Shafer | Phone: 502-643-7653
Address: 9911 Shelbyville Road, Suite 100, Louisville, KY 40222

Jacki's Real Estate Blog

Apr 2013

Let’s Talk About “Truthiness” In Real Estate

In Gary Keller’s best-selling book, The One Thing, he discusses Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Year”. In 2006, the winner, by a five-to-one landslide, was “truthiness”.

Keller goes on to explain that this is a word comedian Stephen Colbert coined in the debut episode of his Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report. Colbert calls it, “truth that comes from the gut, not books.” “In an Information Age driven by round-the-clock news, ranting talk radio, and editorless blogging, truthiness captures all the incidental, accidental, and even intentional falsehoods that sound just “truthy” enough for us to accept as true.”

This got me thinking about the “truthiness” in real estate

When I was brand new to home sales, I was scared to death to tell Sellers the unvarnished truth.

  • Will they throw me out if I tell them the pink and blue flowered wallpaper needs to go?
  • How do I tell them the truth about the strong doggie odor?
  • How can I tell them the room is too cluttered with family photos without hurting their feelings?

…and the most frightening one of all:

  • How do I tell them their home is not worth what they think it is worth?

That one would break me out in a cold sweat in the early days. My knees would knock. I would trip over my tongue. Above all, I wanted the job, and my fears convinced me that too much truth would get me fired before I even got hired.

That was then, and this is now

I have come to realize that I was doing no one any favors by talking in general “truthiness” instead of absolute, unvarnished, no-holds-barred truths that will actually get my Seller clients the result they want – and deserve – a SOLD sign in their front yard.

Today, I have to (in a respectful and kind way of course), tell my Sellers the truth, even when it hurts. For instance, if our Seller clients here in Louisville and Oldham County purchased their home at the height of the market – 2005 or 2006, I have to tell them that they paid absolute top dollar for the home- maybe even a little too much. I have to tell them the cold, hard truth that, although the market has improved quite a bit, we are still in a market correction, and they won’t be able to achieve the kind of appreciation they would have enjoyed in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

I have to remind them that today’s buyers are well informed. Even if they come to Derby City from another state, they have already done their homework and have a good idea of home values. Buyers will only pay what they think a home is worth in today’s marketplace. That simply must be a full and honest discussion up front. And if the Sellers simply can’t or won’t price their home correctly, I have to respectfully decline the listing, because I know in my heart of hearts I can’t help them.

I also don’t have a problem telling them that all wallpaper should be taken down and the home freshly painted if they want to get top achievable dollar for their home. Why can I be so bold about this now? Because I have to. I owe them that truth. My 20+ years of experience tells me that if I don’t tell them this up front, the potential Buyers we will lose in those first days and weeks may have been THE Buyers – the ones that got away and ended up buying your neighbor’s home across the street.

As I walk through the home with the Sellers, I talk about “the elephant in the room”. (And sometimes it really is the elephant in the room. Just last week I had to have that discussion with a Seller about her large ceramic elephant staring at me from a corner of the family room.) Once again, I try to always be cognizant of people’s feelings, and have learned the art of tact when discussing these things. As I explain that “less is more”, and that furniture items or pieces that are too personal should simply be boxed up for the next move, they usually take it pretty well.

Oh, sure, there are always some people who simply can’t handle the truth. Others, in spite of my best efforts at diplomacy, get their feelings hurt when we have these hard discussions. But in the end, they are grateful that they didn’t waste critical marketing time, and that their home was priced to sell, showed well online, resulted in positive feedback, and got them a top dollar sale.

The word, “truthiness” became the 2006 winner because most people don’t want just a version of the truth. They want the real thing.

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