Happy Lunar New Year! It's the Year of the Dragon. Per my online research (I dug deep on this one), Dragons are powerful, endlessly energetic, full of vitality, goal-oriented yet idealistic, romantic, and visionary leaders. They know exactly who they are and possess the keenest sense of 'self' among the 12 zodiacs of Chinese astrology. Dragons are upright characters, scorn any hypocritical or dishonorable behavior, and have a self-respecting pride that’s matched by their wisdom, generosity, vigor, and talent . . .
Not a bad description for those born under this dynamic sign.
I'm not generally swayed by the signs of the zodiac - Chinese or otherwise - but certainly ascribe to the idea that our behavior should be honorable, without hypocrisy, wise, and generous. (Amen.) If most of us lived by that ethos, the world would be a much better place indeed . . .
It's the Spring Market, and along with that comes new Buyers who are getting their first taste of just how cutthroat the world of Real Estate can be. On the one hand, it's a listing Agent's job to leverage interest on a property in order to gain the highest price with the best terms for their Sellers. Conversely, it's the Buyers' Agent who must assess the property, navigate the disclosures, and figure out how best to proceed in a less than transparent world.
They're competing interests to be sure, but at the end of the day, the least contentious deals come about when both sides perceive the transaction as a "win-win." That's tough to accomplish if things are incredibly one-sided, as they've been for the many past years, OR when the listing price is pure fiction.
Cut to a post-pandemic marketplace where higher interest rates, coupled with fewer Buyers who can afford the market are tamping down out-of-control bidding practices. Consequently, Sellers are forced to adjust their expectations accordingly. Even so . . . not every Agent is operating with the same set of principles or under the same moral code - nor are they legally bound to do so. In other words, not all Realtors are created equal.
While it's difficult to understand the concept of a "strategically-priced" home, in our experience, higher sales prices are often achieved when they are priced to attract multiple offers. That being said, there's a point at which the popular 'bait-and-switch" construct seems highly disingenuous, if not a fire-breathing dragon.
To be clear, pricing 10-15% under value to attract strong interest is the norm in our fiefdom, and has been the accepted practice for the past decade or more. However, pricing 40-50% BELOW where the house will ultimately trade is misleading, and frankly, less than honest.
While we can't always predict how high a property will soar, based on a careful analysis of "like-kind" sales in the neighborhood, there's a reasonable spread one can and should assume . . . and setting up Buyers who legitimately show up at the Open House thinking the property is within their reach only to discover that the expected selling price is well out of their budget . . . just isn't nice.
In truth, pricing far below a home's intrinsic value is a marketing ploy that allows the listing Agent to crow about the end result - as in: "My listings typically trade 40-50% above their list price." Of course they do; you started the property hundreds of thousands of dollars below what the Sellers would actually accept.
Given that trust doesn't come easily, especially when a highly-charged stressor is involved (like selling a house), why play fast and loose with concepts such as honesty and integrity in order to feather one's nest? (Ego really has no place in a transaction.) Whether representing Buyers or Sellers, our duty is to guide each party with care.
So taking a cue from Puff (the Magic Dragon), let's endeavor to be honest and kind to one another. Let's agree to play fair, and above all else, let's be truthful and transparent. The public, not to mention your colleagues, deserve nothing less.
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 750 humorous but always informative, essays on life and real estate.