By Joseph Callaway
So, you put your house on the market and reality sets in. After weeks of getting ready and interviewing agents, after listening to all the local gossip and pouring over the comps (comparable sales), after the countless hours of speculating with yourself, you are ready to hear what the market has to say.
This is a lot like fishing. Before you set out, you research the local lakes and streams. You go to the outfitters and buy the best tackle. You get to your destination. You ask locals. You may even hire a guide or rent a boat. But at some point, you put your line in the water and fish. You hope they are biting but if they are not the only thing you are left with is changing the lure or bait.
In selling real estate, that last thing you can change is price, so you put a lot of thought into it ahead of time. You can try to hit just the right number and hope to get immediate interest and a quick offer. Another strategy is to underprice your home in hopes of creating a bidding war. This may work. Then again it may not and may only serve to undersell your house. The third way to price is to ask a little high and see if anyone out there is interested in overpaying. It only takes one you say. Or, then there are all those Californians pouring into Arizona. They are used to higher prices. Some initial over pricing occurs when it is difficult to interpret the comps, and everyone decides to err on the high side out of caution.
What all this means is that many homes go on the market overpriced and days begin going by with no offers. To help everyone along, the MLS (multiple listing service) tracks your “days on market” and puts it right there on your listing like a big neon sign. As time goes by your neon sign becomes a badge of shame. “What’s wrong with your house?” people ask. The listing goes stale. Your agent begins to panic so you change agents, but this does no good because all you did was shoot the messenger.
The real culprit, the real message, is you started too high. Not a crime. This should be easily resolved with repricing, but this is where attitude kicks in.
Suddenly there are a lot of people who look at 30 days, 60 days or more on the market and they see many things that may or may not be true. An agent with an interested buyer may advise a low starting offer. Surely you must be desperate by now and they are ready to pounce. Your listing agent may get on the same bandwagon, and you can end up getting too little or taking your house off the market to try a different day in the future. It is a matter of attitude.
Don’t give in to this silliness. Before you list, ask your agent if they can stay the course. If they have the right attitude, they will keep you calm and simply explain the days on market to all who ask, not as a scarlet letter but to address the fact you started high but hope that this latest price reduction meets the market expectations.
Just because you’ve been out on the water all day and the sun is beginning to go down doesn’t mean that next lure won’t get a bite. The fish don’t know. It is just a matter of attitude.
Joseph Callaway is the owner of Those Callaways and Callaway Realty. His cell is 602-796-5751.