Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Not Just the Bottom Feeders Anymore!

In our weekly sales meeting this morning, one of the agents stood up and asked if we could have a discussion on how people are pricing their listings these days. She mentioned that two of her listings had received offers, but in both cases the offers were $100,000 below asking. The agents presenting the offers told her that "$100,000 under is our new mantra!" She wanted to hear from the group if we felt the same way. The discussion was interesting, and verified what Anja and I have already been telling our clients. Some important points were:
  • If someone really needs to sell, they should determine the market value and price their home 10-20% below that in order to get activity at the listing price. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't sell at this time; only that you should sell at today's value.
  • When making an offer, calculate in a future price decrease, and negotiate that into the purchase price.
  • The value is what the market brings; it is the definition of an open market. If two or more parties are telling you that value is significantly under the list price, then that indeed is what the property is worth.

We are in a declining market, and it seems that agents (and sellers) are the last people to accept this. The point was made today that accepting this fact, and helping the market make the necessary adjustment will help turn things around. The adjustment does need to be made. Of course nobody wants to sell their stocks when they are down. They don't want to sell their house when the price is lower than it was a year ago. They feel they have lost that money, but it was only money on paper; never in their pocket. It is most important in these times to look at your investment over all. If you bought five, or ten years ago, look at what your money has done over that time period. Look at where you lived, and the quality of life you had. These things count as well, probably much more than we acknowledge.

A few years back, when the San Francisco market was in a complete frenzy, we were in the exact opposite position. When working with a buyer who was interested in making an offer, we would look at comps from six months prior and say they were no longer relevant, because the homes were appreciating so rapidly. We were regularly seeing properties go twenty percent over asking price. We were calculating the appreciation into the offer. All we have to do is the reverse for our clients today: calculate in the depreciation, look at making long term investments, and enjoy our homes!

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