How the “Buyer’s Market” Mentality is Hurting Buyers

J Philip Faranda January 28, 2012

Buyer's market mentality can hurt the buyerI have written before on what a buyer's market is and what a buyer's market isn't. Westchester County and our surroundings are a sought after destination; even if a home has been on the market for a year, once the price is right it will sell. I wish I could impress this upon a few buyers who have lost opportuntities when more motivated people came along and outbid them.  

We recently listed a newer build in a desirable subdivision. While it was a short sale, it was also upscale. Not long afterward, an offer came in almost 15% below asking price, a hefty discount not supported by any other market activity. The rationale? It's a buyer's market!

The seller countered, and the would-be buyer raised their number gradually, but well short of what we thought we could submit to the bank for acceptance (by "we" I mean my seller and their attorney). This went on for weeks. They never came up to the bottom line number we felt we could work with, and this resulted in some frustrated emails and phone calls from the agent. Then even the buyer called me directly. I don't know if the buyer thought they could be more convincing than the professional they had representing them, but I told the person both times that there was no comparable sale that justified accepting the offer. 

"But it's a buyer's market!" I was told. The house has been for sale for TWO WHOLE MONTHS and hasn't sold. I was risking having the bank take the house back if my client didn't take their offer. Furthermore, I was told, they were perfectly happy to wait until the bank repossessed and buy it at foreclosure to get their price. 

How lovely. This actually happened with two different byers on the same house- the same pattern and rationale. 

In each case, I asked the agent to ask the buyer to stop contacting me and go through their rep. 

Not long afterward, another buyer came along and made a stronger bid, which was accepted. They got the house.

Fatal mistake number one: Buyers should NEVER assume that they are the only game in town.  
Fatal mistake number two: A "buyers market" does not give the buyer fiat to set the market unilaterally. Comparable sales matter. 
Fatal mistake number three: When a buyer circumvents their agent and tries to negotiate on their own, they aren't accounting for the fact that they probably suck at negotiation and are hurting their own cause.  

In all three cases, the "buyer's market" phrase was thrown around as if it were some childhood game wildcard phrase that granted immunity from logic or true market forces. And in that buyer's market, the would-be buyers lost a home because they were their own worst enemy. The people believed that if they gave in just a little that they'd "lose." 

Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. 

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