r"Are you all right?" my ski buddy yelled down at me from the slope above.
"Not really," I thought, digging my poles, skis and goggles out of the snow. This was only our first run and I had already tumbled thrice - this time, head first into the fresh fallen powder, after deeply burying my tips. "I'm fine!" I lied, as I struggled to upright myself.
In truth, neither one of us had any business on this advanced slope but we had taken a wrong turn and DOWN was our only option. Unfortunately, we were too far dwon to turn back and too high to do anything else but work our way to the bottom (hopefully alive and intact!).
"You're sure?" Alison yelled back. "Yes, I'm okay," I responded between heavy breaths. I was already sweating from the sheer effort of digging my way out of the snow and the reality of the bumpy terrain and the likelihood of more bad falls ahead was a bit discouraging, if not downright daunting.
Just the day before, I had literally flown down these mountain runs with speed and grace. Expertly guided by my good friend, Debbie Kelley, I fooled my weekend companions into thinking I actually had some respectable skills. What a difference a day (and an unexpected winter storm) make . . . now, I resembled a human snowball! Eight to ten inches of fresh powder had revealed my true abilities, not to mention . . . I had snow in my pants!
Having taken up skiing relatively late in life, I will humbly admit to favoring the groomed slopes over the more challenging fare. Give me "corduroy" anytime and leave the moguls to snow bunnies who came out of the womb with skis on their feet and poles in their cribs - not to those of us who took up the sport along with our children! Where were those ski patrol guys anyway?
To add insult to injury, about 20 yards over, a group of carefree four year olds and their instructor, gleefully snow plowed down with little concern, while above me, the chair lift's line of sight only increased my mortification. "Great," I thought, "I'm the 'cautionary tale!'"
Faced with embarrassment or broken bones, I could only laugh as I slid on my hindquarters to safer ground, while behind me, Alison picked her way down the "experts-only" incline more gingerly than I ( My other friend, Debbie, had skipped a second day of skiing for a good book and a nap back at the condo - a better plan in hindsight).
Embarrassment aside, let's admit it, NO ONE wants to be the cautionary tale - and certainly not when it comes to real estate. Watching homes come to the market vastly overpriced, I often wonder, just what was the seller thinking? But to take it a step further, I wonder what their Realtor was??? After all, we agents are the ones who set the bar.
Of course, I've been in the game long enough to know that in these circumstances, it often isn't the REALTOR setting the price - it's often the Seller. But truth be told, as agents, we need to be willing to talk "market performance" with Sellers and encourage them to set more realistic expectations when the list price and the selling price are bound to be DRAMATICALLY different than an owner wants or needs, especially when we - the professionals - know that going in!
This isn't to say that Realtors always set the list price correctly (we don't) but with strong market analysis, reliable comps, and ample local experience, we should be able to set the value within striking distance - OR to encourage you to reset the asking price in quick measure. This isn't for our benefit, it's for yours. If you set a price too high, you'll soon discover that "DOWN" is your only option. If the goal is to sell your home quickly, the smartest thing you can do is to meet the market demand - and the sooner you do so, the better (or you too will be facing bumpy terrain and bad falls)!
Of course there are times when a seller insists we "float" a price significantly higher than we might have suggested for a few weeks, but it's not mine (or any reputable agent's) first choice. It's better known as "testing one's luck." Here's the reality: "luck" doesn't sell your home - "perceived value" and experience does.
More importantly, the outcome for those homes that have languished on the market is often much, MUCH worse than those properties that entered the marketplace priced competitively and were quick to sell. Buyers can (and do!) quickly judge a "good value" and will pass on your home, to compete for another down the road - even if they ultimately pay more for it! (Remember, it's all about "perceived value.")
So avoid the price bumps in the road and leave the moguls, steep hills and the "cautionary tale" to others who take a wrong turn. (It's much harder to laugh off a missed market opportunity than a soft fall in the snow.) Learn from my experience - there is an easier, softer way and while I can't guide you there on skis, I can certainly do so with respect to the marketplace!
See you on the slopes! (Look for me on the blue diamonds from here on out.)
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.