Mona's Real Estate Matters and a Myriad of Other Conversations: You Won't Always Like What I Say...Truthful Real Estate Conversations

You Won't Always Like What I Say...Truthful Real Estate Conversations

Above all honest. All 50 states have some form of consumer protection brochure. In NC it is called Working With Real Estate Agents and serves as the basis for an open and honest relationship between licensed real estate agent and the real estate consumer. Two of the several key components are the topic of today's writing and centers on honest dialog.

  • Promote the best interest of your client.
  • Provide your client with all material facts that could influence their decisions.

Surprisingly, it isn't always as easy as it sounds. Particularly if you were brought up to be kind to people and not hurt their feelings. In the Please Be Honestdozen years that I've been in real estate, I've learned that the kindest thing you can do with real estate clients and customers is plunge headlong into honest conversation with them but warn them ahead of time that they will not always like what you have to say but you say it with the best of intentions.


Often it is easier with buyers than with sellers.  For buyers, the conversations aren't related to them on as personal a level. You aren't advising them about curb appeal or how they smell or how clean they seem to be. Here is me keeping my fingers crossed that I NEVER have a buyer that this topic has to come up! For buyers, the truthful conversation is more about advising to get pre-qualified or the likely reception to a lowball offer, possibly a sellers probable perception of an unreasonable repair request. Nothing really personal about the buyers themselves.


The sellers on the other hand, no matter how diplomatically you present the issue(s) there will be a higher chance that their feelings get bruised. Just a few examples of what I'm talking as plain language as possible.

  • Sellers...buyers will judge a book by the cover and your curb appeal isn't there. Fill in the blank...could be exterior damage, overgrown lawn, trash in the yard, dog holes, kids toys, cheesey statuary and other yard art...I've seen some ridiculous things.
  • Sellers...buyers must not be distracted by the personal property contents. Again, there's hardly anything agents haven't seen. Get rid of or conceal the liquor collection, the pharmeceuticals, the massive collection of whatever...creepy glass eyed dolls, animal trophy heads, 1500 stuffed toys, photographs of your entire lineage covering all of your walls, Playboy style magazines, guns, frog statues, fairy statues, panda statues, black bear-moose-manatee-dolphin-eagle-whatever collections and for sure anything that detracts from being able to represent the style and size of your home. You'll have to pack it when you move - why wait?

If truth freaks you out, don't worry because there will be plenty of listing agents who will whisper sweet nothings into your ear and promise you anything to list your house.  Here's what I will promise you on behalf of MoonDancer Realty you will NOT always like what I have to say but I will always be honest with you. There is absolutely no benefit to you or me to do otherwise.  We have the same ultimate goal to achieve!

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Comment balloon 33 commentsMona Gersky • May 02 2017 11:38AM


Good morning, Mona Gersky say it as it needs to be said... directly with no misunderstandings... I always give it "the bottom line".... never misunderstood..

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 3 years ago

This is exactly why they hire us to tell them the truth at all times

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia III, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) over 3 years ago

Mona- this is exactly how it needs to be done.  Let your client know in the beginning that you will be up front for their benefit.  




Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 3 years ago

Good morning Mona. SCORE........................This is terrific and true. Well said and I hope you get a star for your honesty.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 3 years ago

Hi Mona - Timely post. That came up just yesterday, as Mary and I took a look at a potential listing that badly needed cleaning and editing. We were very honest with the seller - she's been on the market for 4 months without an offer, and needed to hear the truth. We'll find out soon if she appreciated it.

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) over 3 years ago

Mona, this post gave me a chuckle. I love your honesty as well as your writing style. Mooses, creepy eyeballs, pharma, what a conglomeration of items seen in homes!

Posted by Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty, 601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell (Front Gate Real Estate) over 3 years ago

Thanks everyone! It feels so good to be seeing your photos and comments again.  Now, I just have to learn to navigate everyone else's blogs next.

Posted by Mona Gersky, GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate. (MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC) over 3 years ago

I recently had a conversation with sellers about getting their home ready for photos and being on the market. It was not easy, I tried to be kind about her "things" she loved, but it was still very difficult for her to hear.  But she reluctantly followed through and 8 days after it hit the market we had multiple offers.  She's a believer.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 3 years ago


Truth is not a commodity.  It engenders trust.  A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) over 3 years ago

I chuckled at the sample list of 'collections' people keep in their homes! I've found that being honest with the sellers is the right thing (not always easy). I remember a listing I got years ago simply because I was the only agent the seller interviewed that told her "The kitchen will be a problem".  Great Post!

Posted by DALIA KIBBY, Selling Broward County Homes with Passion! (Sellstate Partners Realty) over 3 years ago

Mona excellent post.  Speaking the real hard truth to clients sometimes may not be received well - but it must be spoken. My clients know that I will absolutely give them my professional opinion whether they want to hear or not. And they keep coming back to me because they know I will tell them the truth and they trust me.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten Arizona's Top Banana!, 602-380-4886 (HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000) over 3 years ago

I find it difficult to tell people they can't get the property they've fallen in love with because the people they're in competition with have way better credit.

Posted by Raymond Denton, Veteran Friendly Realtor® (Homesmart / Evergreen Realty) over 3 years ago

Excellent post, Mona! You are absolutely right!

I start every home staging consult with a polite "please don't take anything I say today personally...I am not judging your personal taste or style". I let them know that I will be honest and direct and point out anything and everything that I think could influence potential buyers.

If a seller's house smells, you have to tell them. It's what they are paying you for.

It's not comfortable but it is in their best interest.

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 3 years ago

Last year there was a house for sale that took a long time to sell.  The owner made dolls - she had a workshop in the house.  She displayed her dolls in every nook and cranny of the house - and they were somewhat weird dolls. That's why it took a long time to sell . . . 

I don't think her agent ever explained the problem to her.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) over 3 years ago

Mona Gersky Welcome back with a nice featured post. 

  "......warn them ahead of time that they will not always like what you have to say but you say it with the best of intentions.'

Posted by Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 3 years ago

Dealing with people's personal possessions and their effect on the perception of a home is sometimes perceived as a judgement on the way they live.  Two separate issues that have to be separated and not muddy the water of making their home appealing.

Posted by Mick Michaud, Your Texas Lifestyle is Here! (Distinctly Texas Lifestyle Properties, LLC Office:682/498-3107) over 3 years ago

An agent's credibility and reputation is built upon the truth. Some buyers and sellers have a difficult time when confronted with reality.  Reminds me of the old movie A Few Good Men... "you can't handle the truth!"

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 3 years ago

Honesty is not just a word but a living principal that when practiced teaches 

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 3 years ago

Good morning, Mona!

Honesty is the best policy.  Yes, honesty can sometimes hurt, but it is reality.  Some can come to grips with it, while others are unable to accept it.  


Posted by Brigita McKelvie, Associate Broker, The Broker with horse sense and no horsing around (Cindy Stys Equestrian and Country Properties, Ltd.) over 3 years ago

I often ask on a listing presentation if they will allow me to be honest and tell them the truth when they might not want to hear it. Always they say yes. I can then go back and say, you remember when I asked you....that moment has arrived. Good post.

Posted by Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) over 3 years ago


I love this post as it elaborates on such an important issue in our business - telling the truth, no matter what. I always ask sellers if I have their permission to be truthful with them. No one ever says no but the reality is that the truth sometimes hurts. Price is a big one, as are all the condition issues you mention!

Congratulations on a well deserved featured.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California) over 3 years ago


Very well written.  Your post could easily be rewritten to address what we Lenders also have to address with our clients.

While I also try to walk "Softly", somewhere in my initial discussion with them I tell them something very similar to what you do.

As always. "Honesty is the Best Policy"

Congratulations on the Featured post.

Posted by Wayne L. Brown (Franklin Advantage Inc.) over 3 years ago

I think the most difficult conversations I had as an agent dealt with having to tell people that the house was dirty - or that it smelled bad.

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 3 years ago

Congratulations on your feature Mona!  I can't be anything but truthful and honest. The hard part is doing it in such a way that I don't hurt or embarrass the one I am talking with. Telling the truth with compassion is one of the HEART principles. I work hard at that concept. 

Posted by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®, (928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR® (Coldwell Banker Realty) over 3 years ago

Truth and Honesty should never be compromised. The number one reason a consumer hires a real estate agent is based on Trust. It is a critical part of our lives.

Thanks for sharing a great post.

Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA over 3 years ago

It's refreshing to know there are some intergrity-minded professionals out there. As a home inspector, being integrity-minded and frank, has been a poor business decision, but nonetheless, a contented one.  After 10 yrs. in the real estate world, I am still blown away at the lack of morals and "money-over-all" mentalities.

Great post & thanks for sharing.

Posted by Joshua Frederick, Home Inspector in Defiance & all of Northwest Ohio (Home Inspector for ASPEC Residential Services, LLC) over 3 years ago

From the school of you can't please all the people all the time...and be's very true.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 3 years ago

This is true - honesty is definitely needed, even when sellers won't want to hear it.

I showed a house to buyer clients a few weeks ago and the sellers had a few  marijuana plants growing in a closet. I'm thinking their agent should have told them to wait until they moved to their new place.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) over 3 years ago

Well put.  Honesty will never get you in trouble.

Posted by Keith Lawrence, ABR, SFR (Christie's International) over 3 years ago


This is an excellent post.......should be required reading for all who recently entered the business. I have always been straight-forward in my dealings with clients and else can one successfully operate over the long term?

On a reocurring basis, I receive communication from lake property owner's who want me to "talk" to them about listing their property. They share with me...."their previous realtor had the property on the market in excess of one year, no showings and they never heard from their realtor after the property was listed."

In most cases, the property was "NOT" listed at a competitive price. Promising "the moon" in order to secure the listing is a strategy employed by many agents. At no time were there discussions regarding curb appeal, needed repairs, or other factors which might hinder an expedited sale. How do I know this, I get a "deer in the headlights look" from these prospective clients when I explain, in detail, what a typical buyer will be looking for?

As can be expected, I don't secure the listing on every appointment where I have presented my capabilities, experience and knowledge. I would rather be up front with prospective clients and customers, telling them the truth, advising them, even if what I have to say may not be what they want to hear. All realtors become known by the reputation they keep. I have seen a great many people enter and leave this profession over the years, because their less then forthright behavior, hovered around them like a shadow.

It's a good feeling to look yourself in the mirror.......and be proud of the manner in which you assist others!

Posted by Sharon Miller (RE/MAX Platinum) over 3 years ago

Well said Mona! If they get mad at me so be it. My time and money are to valuable to market a listing that will not sell.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) over 3 years ago

Very well said, Mona. I prefer to work with buyers for this very reason. It keeps the stress levels down a bit too (not always).

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) about 3 years ago

I'd rather lose a client for my honesty than keep a client for three years because I can't sell their house!

Posted by Nathan Gesner, Broker / Property Manager (American West Realty and Management) about 3 years ago