Too Fast or Too Slow
I like to joke that, for many sellers, there are only two possible ways to regard the work of their real estate agents. If their property sells quickly, the seller fears the agent underpriced it. If the property does NOT sell quickly, then the agent’s marketing plan is inadequate. It can seem like a no-win situation for the agent, but more often than not it results from a couple of misunderstandings about how the market works, and how great our control over that market may be. To whit:
• It really IS true that your first offer is often your best offer. This is not something agents made up because we want to get the listing off the books as fast as possible! In a low inventory market like the one we are currently experiencing, there is frequently a backlog of pent up demand for a new property. These buyers are often familiar with the marketplace and may even have lost one or two apartments because they did not act fast enough or bid high enough. So they may well want to wrap something up right away to try to make sure they do not lose out again. The complication lies in the confrontation between a ready buyer and a new seller. The buyer knows the market and is ready to act fast and aggressively to obtain the property, but the seller frequently reads this enthusiasm as an indication that the property will cause a lot of excitement and he can maximize his price by waiting for the other offers which will inevitably come. And I support that seller in his desire to wait a week or ten days to make sure the property gets adequate market exposure. It does tend to be a mistake to accept an offer within the first couple of days. But if, after ten days, you have ONE great offer, take it! The pent-up demand buyer may well be your highest and best. It doesn’t mean the property is underpriced. It likely means that someone who has lost out before does not want to lose out again.
• What is the goal of real estate marketing? One cannot expect marketing to sell the property. Marketing really has a single aim: to drive traffic to the property. If it’s being shown regularly, if there are a lot of hits on the property web page, if a crowd of people (or even a gaggle of people) show up at the Open House, then the marketing is working. Once eyes are on the property, either actually or virtually, the job of marketing is done. At that point, only three things matter: the agent, the property itself, and the price. The agent needs the skills to sell the listing once prospective purchasers walk through the door (or onto the property page. And make no mistake about it, a property description which is no more than an endless catalogue of brand name appliances does NOT make for interesting reading!) The property hopefully has some assets which can be highlighted. And most importantly, the price must reflect the real value of the unit. Without proper pricing and a skilled agent, all the marketing in the world won’t sell your home. Marketing creates opportunity, but it is up to us, as agents, to turn that opportunity into a deal!
Like our buyers and sellers, we as agents live in an aspirational world. We want to believe that the best outcome is possible, and that we can manage our negotiations to deliver that outcome. In fact, there is a lot about the process we cannot control. Sometimes we do great marketing and it does not deliver a buyer. Sometimes a buyer appears on the first day, and the seller just is not ready. Even when we are really good at what we do, we cannot always control the outcome. That’s frustrating, but it also keeps things interesting.