Blogging from Brookside in Kansas City: Focus on the Positive

Focus on the Positive

I've been an agent for over fifteen years now and I really enjoy it.  Part of the excitement in this job meet all kinds of people and see all kinds of houses.  


We've all had that experience of being contacted for a listing appointment and not knowing what the inside of the house will look like.  Walking through the front door..the first impression is so important, and often tells you a lot about the sellers.  And sometimes, the house is updated, well maintained, nicely decorated, clean and not cluttered.  And sometimes, it's not.  When the inside of the house is more lived in than show ready, it can be diffcult to figure out if the sellers are willing to get the house in the best shape it can be for the they can get the top dollar they expect. 


That's when I know I need to take a more positive approach, no matter what.  Sellers are generally very proud of their homes, despite the possible sloppy and cluttered appearance.  Being critical of the home will be taken personally.  So  I want to reinforce the positives rather than focus on the negative.  And then take a more gentle, diplomatic approach on how the home should be prepared for sale.


I work with many seniors who need/want to move/downsize, and quite often the decor of the home is 20-40 years out of date.  The mechanicals may be updated, but the furnishings, paint, wallpaper, drapes, applicances will not appeal to today's buyer and will not show well in photos.  These older adults often feel like 'it's good enough for us' and note 'the house next door sold with multiple offers and it's just like ours' and so on.  A busy family with kids and pets may say "I  just can't get rid of all my kids toys" or "I don't have time or money to touch up the trim paint" or "I don't smell any pet odor".  And sometimes, I can just feel that they are embarrassed about the condition of the home.  This is the time to be positive and diplomatic...but first, be positive and focus on the features a buyer will like: location, inviting outdoor space, great curb appeal, large master bath, new roof, etc. I take this same approach when giving feedback after showing a house--I note a few positive features as well as anything that didn't work for my buyer.  Sellers are very sensative to the feedback comments.


I like to be around positive people--those with a great attitude and who don't complain often about the small stuff.  And boy, do people complain endlessly about small stuff:  having to wait through a traffic light, or the grocery check out clerk is too slow, or why doesn't this shirt come in my size. They can get very upset!  I occasionly rant about some stupid paperwork detail or an agent not getting back to me in a timely manner.  But I won't dwell on it; not worth the effort. And I usually keep it to myself. 


Having a positive outlook, even when the house is not in good shape, creates a better atmosphere to start the relationship and the rest of the process of consulting and hopefully, listing the home. 





Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR

(Brookside/Armour Hills resident, local business supporter, NPR fan, Habitat ReStore volunteer, thankful for the gift of another day!)


Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/Kansas City Homes

816 510 1262


Comment balloon 26 commentsMary Hutchison, SRES, ABR • January 23 2020 07:57PM


Mary- you are taking the approach that I've been supporting when working with sellers. As a stager, when I would go into a home, I could sense that some sellers were waiting and fearing that I was going to use the 'C" word (Clutter)

It's insulting to them because we're talking about their personal things. 

Good for you for taking this positive approach. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 7 months ago

Good afternoon Mary - it is always best to accentuate the positive.  I talk about opportunities rather than problems.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) 7 months ago

Mary great post and like Grant Schneider  I try to focus on the opportunities and not the challenges that need to be overcome:)Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) 7 months ago

Hello Mary - accentuate the positive. A good attitude is the right approach. 

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 7 months ago

Being positive is always an important factor. Finding the point that brings the house together for a potential buyer. One person can see one thing and yet another something else. Each has a different look at the same thing. 

Posted by Laura Filip, What can we do for you today? (Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life ) 7 months ago

That is the best way to go will matter what our minds tell us because we can’t solve problems by complaining about them really. :)

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) 7 months ago

Yes, starting the conversation with all the things that work is a good way to segue into what might need to be done.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) 7 months ago

I love your second paragraph.  We have all heard those is good enough for us....the house down the street.....  You are correct to focus on the positive. Updating is much easier to fix (buy the buyer or seller) than a location.  Definitely focus on the positive is definitely the best approach!

Posted by Shirley Coomer, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az (Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living) 7 months ago


Great post! When dealing with a specific(s) issue which will definately inhibit the sale of a property, at the appropriate time, I diplomatically point out to the seller, "I am making you aware at this time, of the item(s) which will need attention in order for your property to show well and be considered for purchase by prospective buyers." "I feel it's my responsibility to make you aware of this issue now, rather than you ask me at a later date, why has there been no activity or offers on my property?" 

Here's an example which should be easy for any seller to follow. Joe is going to sell his car. The tires are worn out, the windshield has a large crack, the brake lights don't always work and the motor uses oil. Joe can't understand why people who look at his car, either don't make an offer or low ball his asking price with what he considers to be, an insincere gesture. Joe is not interested in attending to the deficiencies which make his automobile less than a desirous purchase for an overwhelming percentage of potential buyers.

This same chain of events holds true for real estate. One technique which can be used to influence a great number of your prosepective sellers. Use photographs to get your point across. Show your prospective seller photos of a few recently sold properties whose conditions, were immaculate and well maintained. Point out specifics with each property indicating whether there were multiple offers, sold above asking price, on the market for only a short period of time, etc. Then show them a few other properties in a comparable price range which have languished on the market because of obvious drawbacks, as it relates to the condition of the property, are quite obvious. 

Pictures are "worth a thousand words" and with this example, you can get your point across, in most cases, without coming across as "overly critical" or "telling 'em how its gotta be".       

Posted by Sharon Miller (RE/MAX Platinum) 7 months ago

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 7 months ago

A positive attitude on your part let's your seller know that you have confidence in them

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC (Keller Williams Capital Properties) 7 months ago

Good morning, Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR when an agent is not positive about a property, it radiates.... heavily!!!   even the worst of situations can be presented positively.... 

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) 7 months ago

You've got the right attitude about it Mary. I can't imagine making someone feel badly about their home. The way we communicate is so critical. And yes, older homeowners may not see those years of wear and tear - and the dated features often feel familiar and reliable, not dated and out of style. 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) 7 months ago

Sometimes it can be tough, but I always try to find the positives in a house.  If I am struggling, I ask the sellers why they bought the house and what they enjoy about the neighborhood.  Thank you for the reminder to be positive.

Posted by Raymond Henson, SRES, GRI, Realtor (eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277)) 7 months ago

Hi Mary:

It's all about having the right atttude, and putting yourself in the seller's shoes and considering things from their perspective. I like to take photos on the spot when I am there to shwo them how things look in the camer - like they will onlinbe. It can make a big difference. And in all likelihood they HVE been looking at homes online.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California) 7 months ago

Good morning Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR ,

What a wonderful positive post with the right attitude that people will be attracted to. Of course the will decide to work with you. Who wants to work with Debbie Downer?

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) 7 months ago

Very well written. Congratulations on the feature!

As a stager I know the importance of being positive. I always state from the beginning that nothing I say should be taken personally. I want them to know I'm on their side and my advice is meant to help them sell. When advising on the negative, it's important to do so in a positive manner. Explaining the reasoning of any suggestions for improvement and how it will benefit them is very important too.

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) 7 months ago

Sharon, I"m making notes on the verbiage you used here! So important! I have a stager coming to a listing tomorrow.  Especially like the line of how it will benefit the seller.

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) 7 months ago

Focusing on the positive is what we should all do, especially when showing a home that may appear to be cosmetically dated or clutterd.  After all, the clutter will be gone when the sellers move out, so that part is a non-issue that I point out.  As far as cosmetics, it is an OPPORTUNITY for a buyer to make the home their own!  And if you can get the price where it makes sense, or maybe a flooring or painting allowance from the seller, even better.  Thank you for sharing!

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) 7 months ago

Wonderful post Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR!  It's obvious your positive outlook shines and radiates to your clients as well. 

Posted by Melinda (Mel) Peterson, The Blessed Realtor - ABR, CRS (Grants Pass, OR) 7 months ago

Congrats on the feature, and positive post.  It's the only way to be, especially when dealing with a difficult situation.

Posted by Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089, Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info (Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers) 7 months ago

What a great approach Mary.  Someones home is someones home and we should be understanding and positive when communicating with them.  I love your idea about marketing the things that amazing about the property. It's that type of marketing that can get someone past the updates that need to be done. Of course it is also good to show the seller their competition and it sounds like you are doing all of that in a very positive way - you are right there is definitely too much negativity out there. Being positive and optimistic is definitely why they should hire you!  Great post!

Posted by Brenda J. Andrew, Professional Realtor in Corpus Christi, TX (ULTIMA REAL ESTATE) 7 months ago

Love it. I'm a huge fan of the coach approach, which means there has to be a relationship and trust first. Focusing on the positives reinforces that we're "for our client" not just for a transaction. 

Posted by Kurt Uhlir, Real Estate Marketing Coach & Speaker (Showcase IDX) 7 months ago

You are so right.  It's critical to share that first impression FIRST as a great impression.  I tell people it's like buyer's do the "windshield exercise."    They are wagging their head like a dog looking at everything while I'm working to get the key from the lockbox and unlock a couple of doors.  Plenty of time to assess the maintenance and the lack thereof.

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) 6 months ago

Mary, I can see why this post was featured. Excellent information and I agree that a positive attitude goes a long way.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty) 6 months ago

Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR - You did a great job by professionally bringing out the pros and cons for sellers and offering sage advice too!

Congratulations on the FEATURE too!!!

Posted by Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP, Selling Homes Changing Lives (DFW FINE PROPERTIES) 6 months ago