For many years, there were not a lot of "second agents" here in Washington. You stuck a sign in the ground, took a couple of breaths, and voila! You would have a bunch of agents rushing to your office bearing perfect offers - of course all above the outrageous asking price you put on the place.
Times have changed.
We're actually seeing expired listings, and even though I don't prospect this part of the market, I sometimes get calls from the sellers asking me to come by and talk. And I view this as real estate's version on Monday Morning Quarterbacking.
Actually, I'm really good at it.
A lot of the time, I'm telling people the exact same thing their first agent told them. But unlike the first agent, I think it's easier for the second one to convince the sellers to actually do the stuff the first agent recommended.
And over the years, I've learned that often, it's the price. And often it's something else that the previous agent addressed with price reductions.
Here are what I think are the major issues with houses that haven't sold that do not involved the price:
Condition: this is sort of a no-brainer. If the house is cluttered and smells like cats, and if it is up for the Excellence in Deferred Maintenance Award, I try to address these issues first. Of course, if the sellers are not willing to deal with peeling paint, rumbling appliances and male cat spray, they will have to reduce the price by a whole lot to compensate.
Staging: was it done by a professional? Was the house neutralized in terms of religion and politics (here in DC we have to lose lots of photos of our clients with current or ex-presidents).
Access: if the showing instructions are as complicated as the rules governing some airline discount fares, that's a huge issue. If it could only be shown every other Thursday between 6 and 8 in the morning with the listing agent present at all showings, it won't sell at any price!
Marketing: customs are different around the country, but I'd check to see what, if any, marketing the first agent did. How was the virtual tour? Was it professionally photographed? What did the information packet look like? Was it a stack of MLS printouts? Or were there nicely done flyers that would help prospective buyers remember the place?
Other Stuff: did the sellers leave when the house was being shown, or did they follow the agents and buyers around like they were worried someone would steal the silverware? Was there a Realtor-eating dog who made the showings an adventure? Did the place smell like an all-night poker game?
Price is a the bottom of my list, unless it's obviously way outside of the zone of reasonableness. I do a careful market analysis that either confirms the price is right or tells us what it should be.
Usually, there is some combination of factors that kept the house from selling, and I think it's important to address them all. If, for example, you are over-priced and bring it down, you won't sell if you doggy, Fang, is humping legs and otherwise harassing people who are coming through. If you pay a fortune to have the house decluttered and staged, that will not attract buyers if your price is way high (especially if Fang is running loose and humping legs).
When I've had sellers who wouldn't do what I asked of them, I've suggested that they might need a second agent, and that the most important quality that person should possess is the ability to get them to carry out my recommendations!
That tends to get their attention. When it doesn't , I fire myself.