Serving Austin Texas & Surrounding Areas


harsh reality: time and again, homeowners lose more profit when their real estate agent comes in half-cocked and shooting from the hip. 

“Are you kidding me . . . . $726,000? The house on Fairview just closed for $726,000? I knew it! I guess that’s the cost of being completely honest with people.”

That’s the somewhat “PG” version of what went through my head, as I clicked out of the property notification. Only half-joking on the ‘cost of being honest’ bit. You see the house had been on the market for close to six months, with multiple price reductions and ended up selling for just about the same price we'd quoted from the jump. What a waste of time, for those poor sellers!

Truth is, it goes much deeper than that.

This was a last minute listing consultation. An unexpected voicemail from what I gauged to be a motivated and somewhat desperate homeowner. The kind of motivation and desperation that is, for the wrong agent, easy to exploit. 

“Ryan, I’m in the process of interviewing agents to sell our home," his message said. "I’ve been disappointed with the “Quick Sale” strategy that seems common place in today’s (big brokerage) sales kit. Usually I would never reach out to unknown entity without a referral, but based on your website I think we may be more of a fit. Please call to discuss.”

A few mornings later, the property owner and I were sitting face-to-face at his kitchen table. Having walked through the home together and discussed the next steps in our Value-Driven Approach, he did his best to angle the discussion toward price — a conversation I typically do not have, on the “first date.”

And yes we understand, at Three Pillars Realty, that we operate from a different playbook. It’s become far too commonplace these days … an agent arrives at the house and within seconds, claims to have all the answers. Seemingly, he or she is an “expert” on the homeowner’s every move. Armed with a scripted listing presentation and a few “comps” pulled from the MLS, they are a fountain of knowledge.

They dive right in … making recommendations on price, timing and execution. Never for one minute balking, blinking, or pausing to ask essential questions. It might sound great. Maybe even a tad bit entertaining. But then again you have to ask, where’s the substance? 

What about the diagnostic research?

The harsh reality is, time and again, homeowners lose more profit when their real estate agent comes in half-cocked and shooting from the hip.. We happen to believe that clients deserve more respect. In my view, each home is unique enough, each client’s circumstances personal enough, that the formulaic “shoot from the hip” approach is at best, irresponsible.

clients deserve more respect. each home is unique enough, each client’s circumstances personal enough, that the formulaic “shoot from the hip” approach is at best, irresponsible.

All that being said, in this instance I understood that we’d likely be asked to break protocol and postulate without completing a thorough diagnosis beforehand.

The homeowners were already knee deep into the selection process. They were building a new home with plans to move out of this one in a couple weeks' time. As the final candidate to arrive, I’d been informed that they had every intention to select a broker to work with, the following day.

Of course, I’d done my homework. 

Last-minute appointment or not, you can bank on the fact that I’m going to come prepared. Even so, I invited him to “go first,” knowing that he already had a price in mind anyway. In the time it took for that number to fly out of his mouth, I knew he’d overshot the target.

Now, let me state for the record, we never assume that we know exactly what a home will sell for. No one does. You will never hear us guarantee a sale price — in writing or otherwise. Some agents will do it but that's not our standard operating procedure.

That said, over the past 15 years, I’ve honed pretty good intuition about where a property needs to be positioned to generate the type of response home sellers are looking for. I understand the dynamics of "perceived value." 

Stated more simply, I know when something feels right and when it does not.

“I think your price is ambitious. Based on our brief tour and discussion, we have more work to do before I can give you an educated opinion of FINAL market value. However, based on my initial research, if I had to list your house today, I’d do so at $729,000 — with some potential for upward mobility once we’ve finished ‘running all of the tests.’”

Furthermore, I explained, “At that price, at my cost, and to your benefit, my plan would be to bring in a second agent to co-list the property with me. I have someone in mind, a member of another brokerage who knows the area well and who is backed by an equally strong marketing team. I’m confident, for this listing, we’ll make a pretty dynamic pair.”

He squinted back at me with a steeled expression, wheels turning. 

I could tell he was thinking to himself, “This guy isn’t bullshitting, is he?” Nonetheless, he retorted with, “Well, the other two agents I’ve already had come through the house both quoted me prices that are more in line with what I am thinking.”

Furthermore, I could tell that neither of the two agents he was talking about had given any sort of mandate that work be done to the house prior to listing. It was going to be pretty much as "what you see is what you get" type listing. And at an inflated price, that's always a big concern. 

He then segued into the next most common question, “What does your fee structure look like,” which led him to jut off into a story about a reduced commission agreement he had with a broker, when he used to live in California.

Imagine that, prospective listing agents over-committing on price and drastically under-cutting their worth. It’s about as predictable as the morning sunrise.

Imagine that, prospective listing agents over-committing on price and under-cutting their worth. It’s as predictable as the morning sunrise.

Leaving that kitchen table, I already knew a Three Pillars Realty ‘For Sale’ sign would never be staked in the front yard. But I’ll stop short of saying that we “lost the listing.” 

See, I made myself a promise long ago that the two playing fields I would not compete on would be: Price and Fees. Yes, of course, we always have flexibility to accommodate and assist under certain circumstances. But unlike many brokerages, we are not willing to reduce the service that we offer, to compete with the bottom-feeders.

What we can bring to the table more than offsets any additional out of pocket "costs." Our approach has proven time and again to generated, for the right home-seller clients, an additional $20,000 - 30,000 in profit. 

Anyone can puff up the price or reduce their fees. Neither of those tactics are “wins” in our book—for either party. When those assumptions are on the table, we usually take it as a sign that it’s wise to turn and walk the other way.

In doing so, we cost ourselves business opportunities   from time to time. And we're at peace with that. It reminds me of a nugget of wisdom that has always stuck with me … Your values aren’t really your values until they cost you something.


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Helping Sellers On The Move
"Ryan listed my property on the MLS on a Wednesday morning. By noon the next day, my dilemma was deciding which over-asking price offer I was going to accept. That was a fun problem. I know I’ll never have to stress about real estate in Austin, Texas because Ryan France is on the mound!"
Lauren Neil-Jeffrey
"Ryan was the perfect Realtor for us. His advice on staging our vacant house was the most important reason it sold quickly. The sale of our home was a pretty complicated process. Ryan’s patience, honesty and straight-forward attitude were key in seeing this complex processes through."
Ankur Jain
"Once my house sold (above asking), I got a call from Ryan asking if I had a favorite charity for which he could make a donation to commemorate the sale. I was slightly taken aback ... then I realized that I shouldn’t be surprised at all. Not only is Ryan a good Realtor, he’s an even better human being."
Dale Blandin
"Ryan displayed complete professionalism and was always prepared. His skill at marketing was superb! The house was under contract within a week of listing! He knew where to focus efforts for the best results and he is very detail-oriented. I highly recommend him."
Luke Childress
"Ryan and his team were very helpful in making my condo stand out and sell quickly. He was proactive & effective in his communications. I always knew what to expect and where we were in the process. Ryan is the consummate
professional. You will be in good hands."
Laura Tomlinson
"Ryan had our house under contract in less than 48 hours, with 6 offers. Many of the Realtors commented on how the house was “staged and priced perfectly” thanks to Ryan’s advice. Ryan was extremely easy to communicate with and made the process of selling of our house as easy as possible."
Shelly Weathers
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