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By Kathleen Lynn

RISMEDIA, May 9, 2008-(MCT)-Business people hate to turn away clients. But in the current housing cycle, some real estate agents say that’s exactly what they have to do when a home seller won’t get real about the asking price.

Margrit Vogler of Margrit Vogler Properties in Oradell, N.J., said she turned down three or four potential listings last year for this reason.

“I can’t spend money advertising something I know I can’t sell,” Vogler said. “It’s not worth it to me. Advertising is way too expensive.”

When sellers insist on a high listing price, Vogler tells them: “I don’t want to disappoint you. I know what the market value of your house is, and I’m not interested in disappointing you and not getting the job done.”

Barbara Colella of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Saddle River, N.J., said she recently turned down a prospective client who wanted an unrealistic price. With properties selling at a slower pace, she doesn’t want to invest a lot of time and advertising dollars on one that’s overpriced.

“If I have to show that house 165 times before I get an offer, that’s 164 times I could have been doing something else,” she said.

Sellers tend to rely on agents to set their price, according to the 2007 National Association of Realtors profile of buyers and sellers. When asked what they want most from real estate agents, 16% of recent sellers said they wanted help in pricing the home competitively, the NAR found.

Like many Realtors, Margie Behr of Burgdorff ERA in Hillsdale, N.J., said that rather than turn down a listing, she’ll work hard to persuade sellers to price the house correctly, by showing them the sale prices of comparable houses.

Sometimes that means they get news they don’t want to hear. Two years ago, for example, she did a market comparison for a couple thinking of selling. At that time, she valued their house at $569,000. They weren’t ready to sell then, but they recently came back to her because they are ready now. In today’s softer market, she suggested listing the house at $539,000. The sellers’ reaction: “Are you kidding me?”

Mark DeLuca of Mark DeLuca Real Estate in New Jersey said that when considering whether to take a listing, his agents look at the seller’s motivation.

A seller who wants to list his house at a high price to test the market? Not interested. But truly motivated sellers-who have been transferred or are facing a divorce, for example- are good prospects, even if they start out expecting a high price.

“If a seller has unrealistic pricing, that’s not necessarily fatal to a transaction. It may be fatal to an immediate transaction,” DeLuca said.

Soon enough, the market will tell these sellers that the price is too high. “You allow the buying public to tell them, ‘No, we’re not going to buy your house at that price,'” DeLuca said.

© 2008, North Jersey Media Group Inc.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.