Monday, November 16, 2009

The Other Side of Rejections

First, a Very Happy Birthday to the Hubster. And the answer is, "Yes."

Having been the recipient of countless rejection letters, it was strange to have to be on the sending side. I can appreciate what agents and editors have to deal with.

If you've been following this blog, you know we've been dealing with selling our house in a very slow market. It's very easy to draw parallels to selling manuscripts. Our first agent was an acquaintance of hubby, and we decided to give him first crack at selling the house. However, after six months of inactivity, we decided to go with a larger company with more resources.

I'd gone to the Internet to look for Realtors who handled our area. I found six and filled out their web forms. Five responded. All came in with the same basic information. All tried to give us reasons why they were the best one for the job. But there can be only one. Based on their presentations, any of them could do the job. It becomes a matter of being very nit-picky.

First step was to see if we could eliminate any for whatever reason. One didn't bother with a competitive market analysis because nothing in our immediate vicinity has sold. They'd deal with pricing once we committed to a contract with them. But the other four did come up with numbers, and went into the details about short sales and foreclosures, and how that would affect our home's price. One came by to look at the house, but took three days to get his proposal to us. Since communication is one of my hot buttons, that was a negative.

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So, we'd narrowed it down to three. We discussed pros and cons of the companies they worked for. We eliminated one because they're not selling in and around our neighborhood even though they have an office nearby. Doesn't mean they won't market our house, but it means if a potential buyer is driving around looking at signs, they won't see one from that company. That left us with two. Tossing a coin would probably have worked, but we ended up choosing the one who seemed to be more about what she would do to market the house rather than what the company resources were.

Now the hard part. I have to figure out how to tell the four we didn't choose that we've opted to go with something else. Do I create one form rejection letter and send it to all of them? Do I personalize bits of it? Do I tell them why they weren't chosen? Agents and editors send out far many more rejections than acceptances, and it's often for reasons as minor as the ones we had to use to reject 4 out of 5 Realtors. Had I used the dartboard method I suggested on Friday, it would probably have served us just as well.

Maybe I should dig out one of my rejection letters and use it as a template. My personal favorite: "We did review your proposal, and for some reason we don't feel we can represent it. Some of them come close, and yours may well be one of those, but we do have our reasons for declining."

With a little modification, it might work.

And, on the manuscript landscaping: I've cut almost 6000 words from my WIP. On the house landscaping: Hubby gave the green light to the tree-trimming crew to come in and "make it pretty." He's finally come to grips with the reality that this can't be for him anymore, and as proof, he's not even going to be around while they're working. Not only that, he even seems to grasp that the usual excuse of "it's a waste of time because ... " doesn't work. True, the bugs will return to the porch light, the mildew will grow on the driveway (he actually rented a pressure cleaner and took care of that chore) and the windows and sliders will get dirty again. The buyers come in expecting perfection. Based on what the Realtors have said, things will be busiest right after the new listing and new pricing hits the web. Once that's passed, I'm sure we'll resume our 'wait for a call, then clean' habits.

My guest tomorrow is Teri Wilson, who's real life job revolves around dogs. She's relaying a recent experience, and it's quite possible it'll show up in her next book. And I hope to have some 'during' and 'after' pictures of the new front yard on Wednesday.


Wynter Daniels said...

I feel for anyone trying to sell a home now. Good thing for you guys is you have a very nice house that's been well cared for. I vote for the form rejection letter. Realtors are salespeople. They are used to making some and losing some.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good luck with the selling! I do think the market is turning around...hope it is, for your sake!

Form rejection for sure! :) Too funny, thinking about adapting our old rejections for other businesses.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Wynter & Elizabeth.

I've emailed our first choice Realtor, and if everything goes well and we sign the contract, then I'll send out those 'dreaded R letters' to the rest. Don't want to burn bridges just in case things don't pan out once it's time to dot the Is and cross the Ts.

P.L. Parker said...

AAACCKKK - Terrible time to have to put your home on the market. Things are starting on the upward trend - slowly. Good luck.

Terry Odell said...

PL- we have the "luxury" (?) of not HAVING to sell immediately, merely REALLY REALLY WANTING to sell. But yeah, the timing is awful.

Watery Tart said...

Good work with the trimming (both of you). And I think for a realtor (or any service worker) you are perfectly in rights to use a form letter to say you spoke with several, all may have been fine, but you chose the one you felt was the best fit. Nothing offensive about that at all.

Good luck!

Judy said...

Good luck with the house! I'm opting for "sale-by-owner" as I don't have a timetable.
My philosophy about rejection letters of ANY kind is that it's just part of the game.

Marianne Evans said...

Great blog, Terry - and some well-thought out analogies. LORD I hate rejection!! LOL!!! PS - best of luck with the house - hope it goes well!

Terry Odell said...

WT, I've reached the "weeding" level with the MS - probably will discuss that on Wednesday.

Judy - good luck with the self-selling. I'm not up for all the extra work.

Marianne - thanks. The parallels seemed clear as I started to work on these posts.

Carol Kilgore said...

Excellent post. You could just scribble "Not for us" across the top of the cover letters of the other proposals and mail them back. Can't wait to see your photos.

Jana Richards said...

Rejection letters suck no matter what line of business you're in. I say go with the form rejection. You don't have to say why you are rejecting them, just that you are.

Best of luck selling your house and trimming your manuscript.


Mary Ricksen said...

I remember when my Mom sold a house she would rake to rug so it was perfect. (Yes years ago a shag)
but they say to keep everything minimal, put all your nick knacks away. They have to be able to picture it as their home. No pictures, nothing personal, just box it up for the next house. And good luck Terry!!!!!
I wish you'd post the after pictures of the front.

Terry Odell said...

Carol - I got a call from the realtor we did choose and she asked why we picked her. Almost as hard as figuring out why we didn't pick the others!

Jana - thanks. You're right; nobody likes to be turned down for anything.

Mary - we've had the house on the market for 6 months, so half our stuff is packed up in a POD. Our first Realtor was good about telling us how the house would show best. I did a blog on that some time back -- around 6 months ago, I guess! And I vacuum my way out of the 2 bedrooms that have carpets that show footprints. It's also a clue that the buyers actually showed up.

Sheila Deeth said...

Fascinating analogy, though I'm in no hurry to move again. I'd never really thought about the various realtors "applying" for the job. Perhaps I'll be a little wiser next time.

Good luck with the house.

Terry Odell said...

Sheila - moving is not a favorite thing, as attested to by our being in this house for 22 years. And I'm hoping our next move will be our last.

Debra St. John said...

It is always interesting to "sit on the other side of the desk", that's for sure.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Excellent post, Terry. I'd never thought about comparing my rejection methods with those of agents and editors. Maybe I should rethink my policy of answering all sales, donation, or survey calls with, "No, thanks." Then I hang up.

Terry Odell said...

Debra - since I hate saying 'no' to anyone, it's tough.

Patricia - I hadn't thought of the telemarketers. Normally caller ID snags those so we don't answer, but I've gotten pretty good at saying, "Sorry, not interested" or "I don't accept telephone solicitations." Sometimes I just plain lie when they ask if Mrs. Odell is home, and I say, "no."