If your home isn’t selling, what should you do? Real estate agent Yawar Charlie, star of a new reality show, “Listing Impossible,” can offer some hope and helpful advice.
CNBC’s “Listing Impossible”—which premiered Jan. 15 and airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST—follows Charlie at the Los Angeles brokerage Aaron Kirman Partners as he and his colleagues devise fresh ways to revive stale listings and entice buyers to bite. There’s even a surprise appearance from David Hasselhoff!
“It really gives you the nuts and bolts on what it takes to sell challenging homes, and what it takes to sell a home in general,” Charlie told realtor.com in an exclusive interview. “It’s not candy-coated, so the viewer really gets to see the process and the journey—not only of the home, but of the sellers.”
Curious why certain homes won’t sell and what can be done to make them move, we talked with Charlie to hear his advice—for home sellers and buyers—plus the surprising story behind how he bought his first home.
How did you end up buying your first home?
I used to be an actor in L.A., and I had worked pretty steadily. But when you’re my type, and this is back 15 years ago, there weren’t a lot of opportunities. I kept getting the note “too pretty for a terrorist.”
I can laugh at it now, but at the time it was very annoying. Still, I was on a soap opera for a while and I took that money I earned and I saved it. I was thinking I should do something smart with it, and decided that I really wanted to buy a house.
I didn’t know where to start, so I sought out a casual acquaintance who was a real estate agent. However, this person was a horrible agent and didn’t take good care of me. It all ended up working out, though, because I ended up doing a lot of the research on my own, so I learned from that. In fact, I learned I had a real affinity for real estate.
How did you transition from home buyer to a real estate agent?
I casually set up a couple of real estate deals for friends and family. And my partner at the time said, “You know, Yawar, you’re really good at this, why don’t you consider this as sort of a supplemental career until acting really kicks in full gear?”
That was about 13 years ago, and within the first nine months of getting my real estate license and joining a team, I was the top new agent in my office. It was a real blessing because when you’re a creative person, you have to find an outlet for that creativity.
For me, when I work with someone selling a home, I find the creative side of things. I say, “Let’s tell a story of this house, let’s figure out a way to connect someone to it emotionally when they walk in the room.”
Your new show is all about moving homes that seem impossible to sell. Why do you think certain homes sit on the market?
When something is sitting on the market, 9 times out of 10, it comes down to the price.
As simple as it sounds, if you price a property too high, it will sit unless it finds that one person who falls in love with it and has to have it. But that kind of Cinderella ending only happens in fairy tales. People want to make sure that they’re not overpaying on a house.
Home sellers should have an honest conversation with their real estate agent about what their house is worth. An agent who takes a house that’s overpriced does that seller a disservice, because an overpriced house is going to sit.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of agents who will underprice a property to get a quick sale or multiple offers. And I really think that sometimes that’s the way to go. However, it requires the seller to have a leap of faith that you’ll be able to get multiple offers, that someone won’t lowball you.
What should home sellers do if their listing isn’t drumming up enough interest?
Our show is a good representation of what happens when properties have been sitting too long on the market. We come in, retool, rebrand, and relaunch each property. That includes staging, some light construction, decluttering, price adjustment, and the right marketing. These are all things that sellers need to think about.
We put together a list of items that I encourage the seller to repair or address before we go on the market.
I bring our stager in and have the quote for that. In today’s market, homes must be staged. If a house isn’t staged, it will be devalued. Because a lot of times, buyers don’t have imaginations. They’re like, “Oh wow, will my TV fit there? Will a couch look good here?”
We have to lay it out for them. Of course, there will be those visionaries that will walk through the door, but more often than not, people need to see it.
In addition to selling hard-to-sell homes, you work with a lot of first-time home buyers. What’s your best advice for them?
Some first-time home buyers think that they’re going to walk into something in their price range and, automatically, it’s going to have everything they want. But that’s usually not the case.
Buying that first home is important because, if you’re renting, you are essentially setting money on fire. Even if it’s a smaller place, it’s important to get into something you own because there’s a tax deduction that people can take advantage of, and owning a home is like a forced savings account. That payment that you’re making every month to pay off the principal is paying into equity, so therefore when you go to sell that house, that equity will be there for you.
I like working with my first-time home buyer clients and setting expectations, which are: This won’t be your dream home, it’s not meant to be your dream home. It’s meant to be something that you like, that you are proud to live in, but that most importantly will build you wealth.
When they buy that first condo, they’ll be able to trade that in, in three to five years, for a larger condo or a single-family home. And then they’ll be able to flip that single-family home into a larger home that does really fit their dream. But it takes the second or third home to reach that dream home status for most people.
What advice would you offer both buyers and sellers on finding the right real estate agent?
Make sure you’re working with a real estate agent who is not a “yes” person, who will tell you the hard truth. Because at the end of the day, it does everyone a disservice if you’re working with someone who just tells you what you want to hear. There’s a reason we’re the professionals. We’re boots on the ground, we see the market trends, we’re showing homes every day. Work with someone you know and trust who’s going to do right by you.
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