It’s the Price Stupid.

J Philip Faranda February 25, 2010

Nobody bats 1.000, and I, like every other broker in the history of the world, have some listings that did not sell and listed with another broker. I seldom give them much thought; it isn’t productive. One ex-listing always sort of intrigued me and I see that they are now on their 4th broker. I was their second. What was different about them was, from a scientific point of view, a fascinating cocktail of selective perception, obtuseness, and a resoluteness of temperament that, if utilized in another endeavor, might earn an Olympic Gold Medal or throw 4 no-hitters.

We all know people that overvalue their house. And I should not have taken a listing that wasn’t realistically priced. But I speculated in taking the listing that the desire to be near grandchildren, coupled with a dispassionate, sober study of the facts, would bring these folks into the family of realists. I was wrong, but in doing so I think I discovered the obdurate chromosome that probably enabled humans to build the pyramids, 1000 mile long walls, or endure nagging spouses.  

My ex clients bought a house at the height of the market with no buyer agent. The house was in a peculiar area where the town, mailing address, and school district were all different, and, as a matter of fact, spanned 2 counties. The contractor owner made a huge array of improvements to the home that would induce the emotional reaction in a buyer of somewhere between a vacant stare and a yawn. The list reads like the forward to a calculus textbook: new well pump. New boiler. Redone hardwoods. New walkway. High end wainscoting and chair rail…everywhere. One bath redone in middle American 1998. The rooms were all freshly painted in pastel kitsch: sky blue. Peach. Yellow. Deep autumn orange. Indigo. I would characterize the decor as Middle American Empty Nest/ Fingerhut/ Al Jolsen kitchen food containers.

yellow and deep orange sell!

All that would be redeemed by a reasonable price, but my client had two beliefs: nothing raises the value of land like magenta wainscoting in a bedroom, and banal discussion with one’s broker as to why we haven’t had a showing in a month (other than price) should be pursued often. I did get them to lower the price once, and our first showing yielded an accepted offer. The buyer never signed. They expired unsold, after dozens of phone consultations and half a dozen summits where they must have asked me 100 times what, other than lowering their price, they could do to get a buyer. To date, they are the only people that insisted that I fax their realtor.com web stats to them weekly, so they could stare at the red bars and ponder why nobody wanted to see or buy their lovely domicile.

Interestingly, my clients’ puerility was not born of head trauma or lack of oxygen at birth, but ran in the family. One of the more memorable exchanges we had was when their married adult daughter couldn’t find the house online, which was my waterloo. I walked her through the basics of typing URLs in the little field up there on top, and moments later found she the house. I then thanked the Good Lord I was in a different time zone. Unfortunately, the damage was done, and when it expired they re listed with another broker. A year later, they are with a new broker and remain $50,000 above their original purchase price.

I think that by the time Liz Taylor was married a 4th  time that people started to figure out that it wasn’t  tough luck; it was Liz. The same goes for anyone on their 4th broker. Am I bitter? No. I am fascinated.

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