Many people know, or think they know, how to market a home. Maybe you’re a decorator or a contractor. Maybe you’re a photographer or an architect. Maybe you’re actually in the advertising business, or work for the newspaper.

All those kinds of skills and experience can be very helpful to you and your agent. A smart agent will know how to use them to your best advantage. He/she will also know when not to use them.

Say you’ve signed the listing contract, the pictures have been taken, the listing has been entered into MLS and the ads have been placed. Your first open house is starting, someone’s already at the door and your agent goes to greet them.

“I like this house,” the guest says after looking around, “But OMG, the carpet absolutely has to go – nobody uses carpet anymore – and the colors are terrible!”

“I like the house, too,” says her husband, “But somebody really messed up. Are you sure that lanai’s permitted?” he asks in a challenging tone, “Because it’s going to take some bucks to fix it.”

Now, you and your agent both know that the colors were chosen specifically because they’d go with just about any décor, the carpet was installed in bedrooms for comfort underfoot, the lanai absolutely was built with a permit and there’s nothing wrong with it. You are a professional decorator and your husband, a licensed contractor, built the lanai himself. He’s very proud of his “baby.”

But what your agent also knows is that people visiting open houses don’t usually stick around asking questions and talking if they’re not interested. They politely leave and go on to the next. So… it could be that this couple wants to use negative feedback in hopes of softening the seller’s attitude about price. Or… it could also be that they’re expressing real concerns about permits, and really don’t like the colors, heaven knows why.

Your agent picks up the file folder on the table. “Here’s the lanai permit,” she says, handing it over and adding, “Would you like to see the remote-controlled hurricane shields they installed out there?”

Her reply had a two-fold intent. First, she directly addressed one of their concerns with a straight answer, but secondly, their answer to her question would indicate their level of interest, telling her if she should spend more time with them.

She not only showed them the permit, she told them about something of benefit that they hadn’t noticed before, turning negative commentary into positive interest.

What would you have done in that seller’s place? Would you have become defensive or hostile, taken their remarks personally and lost that potential buyer before finding out his true level of interest? Probably. And it’s only natural. No one is objective about his own home. But when you’re selling it, you need someone who is objective and cool-headed, who has the patience to listen and find out whether that buyer is just a jerk, trying to be obnoxious, or just a jerk, trying to play games about a house he’s really interested in.

And bye the bye, dealing with jerks is a key reason for hiring an agent who has the skills to take those lemons thrown at her and see if she can turn them into lemonade. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but either way, she hasn’t left the stone unturned, and that’s what you want.

Newspaper ads and signage, online presence, open houses and glossy photo brochures are all great, helpful and necessary. But there’s no substitute for a knowledgeable agent who has the experience and skills necessary to deal with all kinds of people, and whose positive attitude draws those people in, gets them talking and makes them excited and interested about your home.

That’s what marketing is all about.