Tweet! My phone chirped. "Rickster55" had made his play and it was now once again my turn. That sweet little chirp was starting to sound like the theme from Jaws. What had started out as a promising and fun hobby between friends, had quickly become my own personal nightmare (primarily because I was getting my hat handed to me and I hate to lose). "Ti?" "Ut?" "Lo?" Huh? Was he kidding me?
What kind of words are these anyway? I was challenging my vocabulary, playing six-letter words, while "Rickster55" was racking up IMPRESSIVE scores with a strategically placed vowel here and there (who scores 48 points with "voy?"). But worse than that, Rickster55 wasn't giving me much opportunity to leverage any of his letters into new words on my end (since he wasn't playing many). I was having to create ALL of the momentum and he wasn't just winning, he was so far out in front, that I had little chance of catching up. (Make that NO chance. I'm beginning to hate this game.)
Clearly, "Words with Friends" isn't very "friendly."
"You're playing the wrong game," my sister, Jill, coached, "You don't score higher points for longer words. This is Scrabble. You have to play the board. Focus on the board." (Ah ha! Light bulb moment!) Not surprisingly, there's a lesson to be learned here with respect to Real Estate as well (Isn't there always?) which is that your home isn't being sold in a vacuum. Whether it's a Buyers' or a Sellers' Market (or one that's mixed) each listing lives within the context of nearby sales, results, and market performance.
Regardless of how special you believe your home to be (and I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you) chances are, your sale isn't going to be dramatically different from the house next door or the one down the street. With few exceptions, there isn't a "triple word" or "double letter" score in Real Estate. You have to scan and play the board - And you have to do it within the framework of any given marketplace. (Light bulb moment?)
With respect to Buyers, it's not only important, it's absolutely critical to size up the competition and adjust your game accordingly.
If five parties are bidding on a home, then it's going to be necessary to dig into your bag of tricks and come up with heavier artillery and some winning strategies if you wish to succeed. (Much like I'll need to do if I continue to battle Rickster55.) And if you are consistently running into tough competition and haven't mastered this learning curve, well then, you are going to be at a distinct disadvantage, aren't you?
In other words, play the board!
Sure, I can write sharp offers all day long if you instruct me to do so, but if they fail to deliver you the home, then you are only succeeding in pushing the sales price and the comps ever higher - without actually achieving your goal. Believe me, losing time and time again, rapidly grows old and it's incredibly frustrating to boot. (Don't I know it.) So get in there, analyze the board, adjust your thinking accordingly, align yourself with the market, and then make your move.
Chirp! Oh dear, there goes my phone again. . . it's my play.
What's your next move?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 14 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.