Pricing your home right

May 8, 2011 · Print This Article

Now more than ever pricing your home RIGHT is of utmost importance. With values falling up to 30% in Westchester County and Putnam County from the peak of the market 4-5 years ago, pricing your home competitively is the only way you will have a chance to stay a head of your competition; competition being other houses in the area comparable to yours. List too high and your home will sit on the market and may never sell or even worse sell for much less than you want it too. Let’s discuss one of the 1st things a prospective seller says in defense of pricing a home higher than their Realtor recommends.

“But we can always drop our price.”

 No you can’t. Well you “can” but most likely it will be too late. New listings get the most activity the first 3-4 weeks of the on the market, after that the interest in the house levels off dramatically. It no longer is considered a new listing on the Realtor “hot sheet” and the listing just finds its way with the rest of the over priced listings in your town. If you do not put your best foot forward (aggressive price) from the beginning then by the time you drop the price it will be too late and you will be chasing the market. If your Realtor says you need to be $50,000 less than what you want to list at but finally after 1-3 months you “give in” to his price recommendation it is actually too late. Now to be competitive with the other listings in the area you may need to be $75,000-$100,000 less than your current asking price.

Here is a recent example: I had a seller in Mahopac call me after 6 months on the market with another agent and the agent was not able to sell the house. The asking price was $500,000. I came in and told the owners the listing price can’t be a penny over $450,000. Of course they did not agree and thought I was crazy and refused to list it “that low”, the lowest they would allow me to list the home was at $475,000. After a few weeks on the market the activity was minimal and this was due to it being overpriced. I asked them every week to please let me drop the price.

After 3 months my sellers ‘gave in’ and let me drop the price but I told them $450,000 is now too high. Unfortunately they did not listen to reason this time either and they only let me drop it to $450,000 (which was 3 months agos price). I told them it is too high and to drop to maybe $419,000 and hope to get $400,000. Well at the $450,000 asking price I brought them 3 offers at $400,000 and none of the buyers were willing to go higher. My sellers told me there was no way they would “sell their house for that low”. I finally let the listing expire because my sellers were unrealistic and were more or less ensuring themselves to lose a lot of money.

They listed with another agent and 6 months later they sold… for… $375,000.

 “Buyers are always going to bid lower”

Yes and No. A competent buyer’s agent knows the market and when a house comes on the market at a very good price the agent educates their buyer on current listed and sold properties and more often than not the offers come in VERY close to asking price. I saw a house that was grossly over priced, about $150,000 over priced then one day the agent drops it $150,000 to $525,000. My buyer saw it and was impressed and felt it was worth every penny of the new asking price. The agent just dropped the price the day we saw it (I told my client about it as soon as I saw the new price), my buyer was unsure about what to offer and we discussed the comparable homes in the area and we offered asking price. Of course it was accepted and my buyers were more than happy.

Another reason why thinking you can “always lower the price” or “buyers are always going to bid lower” are wrong is that you push yourself out of the market with an over priced listing. SERIOUS buyers these days know that prices are down; they know sellers have dropped prices a lot; buyers are NOT searching for houses that are $50,000-$75,000 higher than a number they can afford or want to spend like they used to do years ago. Serious buyers looking for a $500,000 house are not searching much higher, maybe $515,000 or $525,000. So when you price your $500,000 house at say $540,000 or $550,000 you just made your home INVISIBLE to buyers because they do not know it exists when they search online for homes in their price range. Price it at say $515,000 and you expose your home to a large pool of buyers and your chances of getting a good bid on your home has drastically increased.

I had a seller in Somers NY who did not let me list his home at the price I told him, the price was $650,000 (down from $769,000 from his previous agent who was not able to sell it) and I said we need to be around $600,000-$610,000 and he only let me drop the price to $639,000. After 3 weeks my seller was fed up and I was even more fed up and pleaded with him to let me drop the price before it is too late. I asked him what is his bottom line and he said “$600,000 give or take a few thousand”.  Well we priced it at $600,000 on the dot. My seller was concerned about lowering the price and said “but people are going to bid lower, what if we get low ball bids?”, of course the uneducated buyer will bid low but not the educated and qualified buyer.

Within 24 hours we had three offers. One low ball offer of $500,000, one for $550,000 and one for $590,000 and we settled at $598,000! The buyer who bid the $590,000 knew the market and knew the price was good and she also said  “I never knew this house was even on the market until the price was lowered to $600,000 and I would have never seen it if you did not drop the price”.

Another example happened a few years ago when I went on a listing appointment and the price I gave the seller was $550,000. I stressed not a dollar higher is this unstable market. I did not get the listing and 2 weeks later I see his house listed at $750,000! To make this very long story short, the house is still listed and the seller  is now on his THIRD real estate agent 3 years later and his current price is $425,000.

 Agents do NOT waste their time showing overpriced houses.

When an agent sees a listing that is obviously overpriced they are not going to waste their time showing it especially when their buyer tells them it is just way too out of their price range. The agents also know that if the house is overpriced and does go into contract anywhere near the current asking price that the bank will never appraise it that high and the deal will be dead and the buyer will back out and legally can. An agent is also not going to show an overpriced listing and then lose creditably with their buyers and waste their buyers’ time driving around showing homes that are not what they are looking for. Buyers assume that sellers are aware of the down market and what home values are and assume you are pricing it based on the current market and are not that negotiable in the price. Many buyers do not think you will drop much off the asking price so if you are asking $50,000 more than you should or over what your bottom line is, the buyers do not think you will actually drop $50,000 off the price and will not bother looking at your home.

 The Old vs the New real estate market.

When the market was “hot” from around 2003-2005 agents would look at what sold and then list homes around 5-10% MORE than the most recent comparable sales. Now we look at what just sold and price it LESS than or at the price the most recent comparable’s sold for and hope to get as close as possible to those recent sale numbers. Any other way and a seller will chase the market and lose money like the seller above who listed at $750,000 and is now at $425,000.

The moral of the story is to listen to your Realtor’s price recommendation and price your home inline with the competition or even lower and NEVER ever choose your agent just based on the price they tell you. If that was the case then I would just go around telling sellers what they want to hear and not what they need to hear and give them all over priced values.

My job as a Realtor to my sellers is not to just sell your home but to sell your home for top dollar and in the shortest amount of time. More importantly my job is to make sure you do not get less than you should and an over priced listing is a perfect recipe for loss.  If a competent Realtor comes up with a value on your home and you want to list higher than they say because “people are always going to bid lower”, you probably just killed your chances of not only getting a bid near the value the Realtor came up with but any chance of selling your home at all.

Listen to this advice about pricing your home and will be on your way to a successful sale.



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