Real estate agents, emotional intelligence, and sale price

Can real estate agents with high emotional intelligence get you a higher sale price?

home for saleWhen it comes to selling a home, the prescribed course of action is to set the right listing price and prepare the home to be shown. Real estate gurus proclaim these as the two most important items to making the most money from your home sale. And although these are widely accepted goals to getting your home on the market, recent research may actually counter the conventional wisdom about pricing and staging; while a new line of thinking suggests that you’re choosing the wrong agent too.

Staging, as we know it, has been a staple of home sales for almost forty years. And listing agents almost always discuss it during their listing presentation. Research has already proclaimed that furnished homes sell in less time than vacant homes (see Chien-Chih Peng’s study published in the June 22nd 2004 issue of The Appraisal Journal), but does staging add perceived value to the price? Well, Lane, Seiler, and Seiler (2015. The impact of staging conditions on residential real estate demand. Journal of Housing Research, 24(1), 21-35) conducted the first study to determine the virtues of home staging. Their results suggested that home staging does have some impact on the home buying process, as you might expect; “…we find a neutral wall color and good furnishings do significantly influence a buyer’s perceived livability and overall opinion of the home.” However, the study’s main conclusion was that staging a home does not significantly impact sale price.

If you think that pricing a home is a straight forward process of gathering and extrapolating the latest neighborhood data to your home, think again. There may be more going on in your head than you realize. A recent study by Loveland, Mandel, and Dholakia (2014. Understanding homeowners’ pricing decisions: An investigation of the roles of ownership duration and financial and emotional reference points. Customer Needs and Solutions, 1(3), 225-240) suggested that home sellers make different home pricing decisions based on the length of ownership, anticipation of financial gain, and emotional experiences in the home. It seems that the longer you have owned your home combined with a greater financial gain or positively associated memories, may incline you to over-price your listing and likely maintain a higher price; while those who have a shorter time of ownership combined with less financial gain or bad memories price more reasonably, and are more likely to make larger price adjustments.

So maybe getting the most money for your home comes down to your agent. After all, research confirms that experienced real estate agents sell homes faster and for more money than rookie agents. And yet, subjective conceptions of agent traits may guide you to choose your agent, regardless if your assumptions are valid or erroneous.

Forget savvy, forget aggressiveness, forget connectedness, or any preconceived notion about what personality traits your agent needs. A recent pilot study of licensed real estate agents by Swanson and Zobisch (2014. Emotional intelligence understanding among real estate professionals. Global Journal of Business Research, 8(5), 9-16.) suggested that the key underlying trait for real estate success and financial gain is emotional intelligence (EI). The concept of EI is complex, and is often confused with typical personality traits such as sanguinity or purpose. Rather, EI is the ability to be aware of, and command emotions in oneself and others. Those with EI are thought to be empathetic and able to acknowledge responsibility for actions and emotions. Additionally, those with high EI are likely to better understand and manage others’ motivations – which is fundamental to negotiation.

Copyright © Dan Krell

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.