Conditioning is one of the real estate industry’s favourite tricks used to get home sellers to lower their price expectations.
If you are aware of it happening, you can protect yourself against it but if you don’t realise that you are being conditioned, you can make decisions that you come to regret.
What is conditioning? It’s when the agent praises your home prior to listing and then continually points out the negatives after it is on the market. In order to distance themselves from the negativity of conditioning, the agents may frame it in the buyer’s words – phrases such as “buyers like the house but the road is busy” or “the buyers keep telling us the bedrooms are small”. When you hear negatives about your home once or twice, you can brush it off but after 2 or 3 months on the market though, the conditioning begins to have an impact. One homeowner described it this way, “the agent made me feel as though I would not be able to give the house away”. Another commonly used tactic to condition sellers is the “low offer” trick. A seller that wants $500,000 is given an offer of $400,000. It is not because the agent thinks $400,000 will be accepted, they are just looking to set the seller up to accept the “market price”. Market price? – “but $500,000 is what the agent told us we could expect to sell for.” Yes, the agent told you it would sell for $500,000 and they then went out and told buyers that they could offer $400,000.
So if the agent lied to the buyers, why wouldn’t they lie to the seller? So many home sellers overlook this point when they see their agent promoting the property to hopeful buyers at a price the sellers would not accept. Conditioning helps the agent avoid blame for the property selling for less than they originally quoted to the owner. Conspiracy or tactic?
You may be inclined to ask yourself if conditioning is really just feedback and not a deliberate process to drive the sellers price expectation down. The difference between conditioning and feedback comes down to 2 main points. The first is whether the agent’s thought and sentiment toward your property has changed before and after you signed up. The second comes down to the agent’s intent. Are they continually passing on negative feedback about your property to lower the price or do you genuinely have a fundamental flaw that buyers cannot overlook? Conditioning has been in the agents bag of tricks for as long as houses have been bought and sold.
Another favourite conditioning trap is filling your home with lookers & neighbours which is then disguised as market feedback.
Who cares what the neighbours think your property is worth? Ask your agent for honest and direct feedback only from genuine active buyers. If you like the offers that come in – sell your home, if not, withdraw from the market and wait for better selling conditions. You worked hard for your home, so don’t have some agent verbally run it down so they can get a quick sales commission for themselves.