Remember the Movie: You've Got Mail? (If you're a man, of course you don't. If you're a woman, you've memorized it by now.) In this charming romcom, a BIG-box book store, "Fox Books," has opened up and is threatening to drive the little book store, "The Shop Around the Corner," out of business.
When confronted, Tom Hank's character, Joe Fox, states, "It's not personal, it's business." to which Meg Ryan's character, Kathleen Kelly, emphatically replies: "All that means is that it wasn't personal to you; to me it was very personal." (That line always hits 'home,' because frankly, who hasn't felt that way?!?)
While selling a house is certainly, first and foremost, a business transaction, make no mistake, to Sellers, it's "very personal." And ironically, the more the market has favored Sellers, the more unsettled Sellers seem to have become.
I suspect that much of their discontent has to do with heightened expectations, in large part, driven by the media, comparisons to nearby sales, the "buzz" around town, and also perhaps their own Realtors, who in their desire to reassure and assuage Sellers' fears, can paint a picture that's not entirely based in reality. That can be a problem. (Most people don't like reality.)
Because while many homes in our neck of the woods, are, in fact, delivering multiple offers and often with surprising results, that doesn't necessarily mean that Buyers don't have a clear understanding of "value," even while desperately chasing the prize. However, it's important to remember that where they place "value" and what they are willing to pay for it, is entirely subjective. What's been of high value to you and your family, may have little to NO value to someone else (pools and home theaters being high on that list). Buyers won't deliver an unrealistic price for a home simply because you want them to - or worse yet - because you need them to.
And while I caution both Buyers and Sellers that homes are NOT sold by the square foot (that would make it too logical), the average sales price is certainly going to be a marker by which most Agents will begin to educate their clients as to "value." If expectations are too far off the mark, not only will it be extremely difficult to achieve, the home will be nearly impossible to appraise, and that's a different movie altogether with respect to lenders and the loans they issue.
So while I can certainly make sure that everyone is going to see your property via video, Instagram, Facebook, newspapers, online flyers, websites, etc., etc., etc., I cannot promise you a pie-in-the-sky result. In other words, I cannot give you the moon. If by some miracle, you get "the gift" (the offer that stands far apart from the others and belies statistics) Lady Luck smiled upon you. Congratulations!
Still, as long as homes are unique value propositions (and with all due respect to Zillow and other online resources) Real Estate is going to remain a "high touch" business for the foreseeable future, requiring Buyers to not only fall in love with a home, but to go to battle for it. What's more, they are going to have to set aside their fears while doing so because none of these properties are a bargain in today's current marketplace.
With the stark realization that the successful Buyer is, in fact, paying MORE for the home than anyone else was willing to on the offer date, there's a lot of second guessing that can, and invariably does, come about from the moment the successful Buyers receive the congratulatory news. In short, it's no easier being the Buyer than it is being the Seller, and let's try and remember that buying a home is also "very personal" to them as well.
This is where they are going to build their lives; why should it be anything less?
Or as Kathleen Kelly responds after being told "it wasn't personal" . . . "But it was personal to me. It's 'personal' to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal, anyway?"
Agreed, let's at least start with "personal" and go from there.
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.