A few weekends ago, as I was at the airport waiting on my flight home, I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, and a post got my attention.
At first, it was the picture that caught my eye. It was a cow stuck on a fence, and it legit made me chuckle because it was that ridiculous.
But the writing that went with the picture was even more attention-grabbing for me. It said quite simply, “What are some follow-up scripts you are using for sellers who are sitting on the fence?”
Does the image make more sense to you now? This is something Jason Posnick and I have been working on with our agents for the past few months.
It’s a common objection, especially this time of year. We’ve all heard it.
You’re on the phone with the seller. They’ve expressed some level of desire to sell, but they don’t want to book an appointment. The seller says they’re still giving things some thought, weighing their options, and they don’t want to waste your time. Or they don’t want to meet until they know they’re committed to selling.
They’re on the fence.
How to recognize “on the fence” sellers
Sometimes they don’t say it directly, and the objection is concealed.
How do you recognize these? They might say something like, “I’m not sure if this is the right time to sell,” indicating their uncertainty about market conditions, prices, or timing.
A seller could express emotional hesitation such as “I’m attached to this home and can’t decide if I’m ready to let it go,” reflecting a personal struggle with the emotional aspects of selling a property that holds sentimental value.
The seller might voice concerns about finances saying, “I’m not sure if I’ll get the price I want,” or “I’m worried about the cost involved with selling.”
Sellers could indicate uncertainty due to lifestyle factors. “I’m on the fence about selling because I don’t know where I’d move next.”
They may express a need for more information. “I’m undecided. I need more information about what selling would involve.”
And a seller might simply state, “I’m weighing the pros and cons of selling right now.”
Sometimes the indecision isn’t stated directly but implied through questions and concerns such as asking about market trends, potential sales prices, or timing advice.
And no matter which fence the seller is sitting on, that expression of being “on the fence” reflects a need for more information, guidance, reassurance, or time to think.
Focus on understanding—not persuading
We’re never going to convince the seller to sell. Our job at that point is, as Jason Posnick says, to understand the seller’s situation, motivation, and the problem.
It’s relationship building and being able to ask the right questions.
An easy example here is to think of it this way. You connect with a potential seller at an open house. You learn they live in the same neighborhood and they’re debating whether they want a bigger home, but they’re on the fence about whether they really want to make the trade up. And they don’t want to have you over to their home just yet.
- The seller lives in a neighborhood.
- They own a three-bedroom home and have two children.
- They bought the home five years ago and refinanced when the rates were super low.
- Their oldest child is in the local school.
- When they bought the home, they only had one child, so they had an extra guest room.
- Two years ago they had a second child, and now they don’t have a guest room for when the in-laws visit.
- They’d also love to have a two-car garage because the snowy New England winters mean that they’re always clearing snow off their cars
- They have such a low interest rate on their loan, and they aren’t sure it makes sense to give that up or that they will be able to afford the type of home that they want.
- Oh, and they don’t want to move their kids out of the school district they’re in.
Once we understand these three items—situation, motivation, and problem—it’s a matter of using the script:
“Knowing what I know now, what day would be best for me to meet and look at options to help you get into that bigger home in this school district at that monthly payment that you’re comfortable with?”
We’re putting it all out there. We’re also, within our company, not calling them listing appointments. In these scenarios, we’ve found that going a bit softer and calling these strategy sessions seems to help clients feel like we’re starting a bit of teamwork.
After all “strategy session” sounds less about getting a signed contract and more about working together toward a shared goal.
You’re basically telling them, “We’re going to pool our knowledge, concerns, and expertise to collaborate on a plan that will get you what you want—or something even better.”
So, while I’m still drawn to all things listings and to agent tactics that will help the agents on my team reach their goals for 2024, I’m also more focused on helping those “on the fence” sellers feel understood and respected as well as confident in our ability as professionals to help them make the right choice at the right time for them.
Because if the roles were reversed, that’s the kind of agent I’d be looking for.