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Scripts to Handle the Question: What Work Should I Do to the Home Before Selling?

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Agents often lose listings when going through the pre-listing tour with a seller. Even if the seller has asked for feedback and recommendations, they can become either overwhelmed or offended when the agent tells them the truth. 

At your future listing appointments, be very careful with what you say as you tour the property with the homeowner. Be complimentary in a sincere way, noting the improvements that you know they are proud of, and compliment them when appropriate. 

If they ask what you recommend they do to prepare the home, do not jump in with helpful suggestions. Instead, revert to clarifying questions.  

“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, may I ask, do you prefer to sell the property as-is or would you be willing to do some work to prepare the property for sale, if you thought it would net you a higher value?”  

If they prefer to sell as-is:  

“I understand, and I will keep that in mind as we review the data and properties we will be competing against. This will allow me to help you select the highest realistic price that the home will sell for in as-is condition.”  

If they say they might be willing to do some things to be able to sell for a higher price: 

“Perfect, that is great to know. In today’s market, condition is critical to assure we net you the highest realistic price possible.” 

“With your permission, I would like to reserve my comments and recommendations until we complete our walkthrough of the home. Then, once we sit down together and review your expectations of the net you want to achieve and the timeline by when you want to move, we can discuss what we need to do to make that happen.  “  

“In fact, at the end of our meeting today, once we list the home I will go out front with you and do another curb to curb walkthrough, just to ensure we note anything I may have missed on this first tour. Does that sound good to you?” 

“If there are repairs, improvements, or staging that we decide it makes sense to do, I will help you locate quality vendors and assist in coordinating any work that you decide to do, all as part of my service at no additional charge to you.” 

Now that you have completed your tour and are at the table discussing the condition of the home, remember that they like to shoot the messenger. Even though they asked you for your opinion, they may still be easily offended by your comments. 

Once again, it is best to be careful about the statements you make and instead revert to another clarifying question.  

“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, tell me please, what is it that you feel the buyer might try to use against us in the negotiations?”  

If you say it, they think you are trashing their property. If they are the ones to say it, they don’t get mad! 

Once they tell you what the buyer might not like about the home, you can assure them you will do your best to fight for them to overcome any buyer objections and to locate the right buyer who will appreciate the property. 

If they aren’t listing today, but ask for a list of your vendors to begin work to prepare the home for a future sale date, here is what you can say:  

“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, I would be happy to not only share my list of vendors with you, but to also help you arrange and coordinate the work once the home is listed. The vendors I work with request that I am involved in the arrangement of estimates and services because it makes it easier for them to get the job done more efficiently. If you would like to go ahead and sign our initial agreement to work together, then I can go to work for you right away! We can execute the proper paperwork that my local board of REALTORS requires, which will allow me to hold it off the market until you are ready to begin. Let’s take just 5 minutes and get our agreement signed now so that I can go to work for you.”  

I understand that at times you may be forced to give up your vendors to them, but do so carefully because too often they use the vendors the agent recommends and don’t use the agent. 

If possible, keep the conversation about the work to the home light until the listing is signed and then do what you promised you would do. Start at the front of the property and walk through with them, thoroughly discussing what you recommend they do based on the price that they selected. 

Now that they have hired you, they are more likely to listen and you can be more direct because you have the agreement in hand. 

Also, an added bonus, if they are not receptive to what you recommend and therefore you feel the price is too high for the current condition, you can have a price adjustment conversation right on the spot before you even put the home on the market.

If you want more guidance on how to grow your luxury real estate practice, you can learn more about the Institute’s training options here


  1. Great information. The struggle is real on this topic. They do shoot the messenger. A more in-depth look at this would be appreciated! A Zoom call would be ideal :).

  2. Great script! Sellers can actually be scared off if they think that a lot of updating might be required for a sale. Questions are always the best way to go to determine their motivation.

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