Actor James Woods retired in a real estate listing?! That was the erroneous rumor making the rounds after a local newspaper in Providence, RI, announced that the 70-year-old star of “Once Upon a Time in America” is trying to sell property in the area.
According to an inaccurate press release cited in The Providence Journal, the actor—perhaps best known these days for his cameos in “Family Guy” and his right-wing rants on Twitter—”is retiring from the entertainment industry and hopes to ‘simplify his life’ by selling ‘his many real estate holdings on both coasts.’”
The article mentions that one of his homes, a property on Boone Lake in Exeter, RI, was just listed for $1.39 million.
It turns out the retirement rumor merely sprang from a miscommunication between Woods and his real estate agent, Allen Gammons. Gammons drew up a news release about the house, which he asked Woods to review, but as Woods later told the Washington Post, “I was not paying attention. … I somehow didn’t hear ‘retirement.’”
Yet after learning of the mistake, Woods didn’t pounce to correct it, curious how his fake retirement might play out online. The bizarre home listing sparked sadness among fans, jubilation among his detractors, and a flurry of questions from the press that he finally laid to rest by telling the Post that no, he would still act if the right part came along.
“No actor retires from the film business,” he said.
In other words, all this hubbub was for nothing. Still, from a real estate perspective, it got us thinking that people sell their homes for all kinds of reasons: retirement, job transfer, or otherwise. Should they be sharing this info with buyers?
‘Why are you selling?’ A hard question to answer
“Why are you selling?” is a common and logical question for home buyers to ask.
“Every buyer wants to know why the sellers are selling,” says Texas Realtor® Wendy Flynn. “What they are really asking is this: ‘Is there something wrong with this house, or the neighborhood around it, that is causing the seller to want to sell? Would we be making a mistake if we bought this house?’”
There’s likely another motivation behind the query, as well.
“Buyers also hope to gain some insight that they believe will give them some kind of advantage in the transaction,” Flynn adds. For instance, if the home sellers are moving for a job transfer or expecting twins, they might have to sell quickly, which would give home buyers the upper hand.
As a result, many home sellers think it’s safer to reveal no reason for selling at all. Yet Flynn argues that this can backfire.
“The absence of an apparent reason often causes buyers to have wild speculations,” says Flynn.
A better solution? Reveal a neutral reason for selling, something that reveals just enough. Retirement and downsizing are totally fine—and, unlike a job transfer or impending birth, don’t reek of desperation.
“Downsizing is a great neutral reason for selling, as is moving to be near family members,” Flynn says. “These provide a reasonable answer to buyers, and they don’t indicate any negative items about the property or give away information that would weaken the seller’s negotiating power.”
How revealing your motivations can help
Still, home sellers should also keep in mind that ultimately, they are in control.
“At the end of the day, a seller can reject or accept any offer, and price is 95% of the time tied to market value—not a seller’s reason for selling,” points out Washington, DC, Realtor Rachel Valentino. “We often overcomplicate it.”
Plus, revealing your motivations for selling can also humanize the transaction in a way that can help close the deal.
“I would venture to say it helps a listing whose owner shares a bit of their and the house’s story,” Valentino continues. “Deals go smoother, and usually sellers get a better end result when there is some level of humanity in the deal and it isn’t just a transaction of funds. Buyers want to feel good about the house they’re buying and the sellers that are getting their money. People like doing business with people they are attracted to, and real estate property purchases are no different.”
In other words, love him or hate him, “fake” retirement or not, Woods might be onto something when selling his real estate.