"Can I have approval please? I need approval..." came the plaintive request over the intercom system in CVS last week. I couldn't help but chuckle as I listened to the monotone plea from the uncomfortable cashier and flashed onto the image of Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live. His self-reflective monologues always ended with "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me." Now that's approval!
In real estate, the need for approval is no less important. Sometimes, the approval one seeks, comes via validation from friends and family in the midst of a Sunday Open. Sometimes it arrives by way of your agent through careful analysis of the numbers. Sometimes, the approval comes during inspections when all is going well. And every once in awhile it arrives along with the moving boxes and the neighborhood welcoming committee. With so much at stake, most buyers don't just crave approval, they need approval before moving happily forward with their purchase. And why shouldn't they? We all feel better knowing that a smart decision was made and our decisions are confirmed when others believe it too!
Likewise, Sellers also need approval. When sellers bring their homes to the market, it can be an invasive, gut-wrenching process. Having purged their shelves of old art projects, well-loved books and all manner of collectibles; having patched, painted and staged their home so that it is barely recognizable to them or their kids, and having gardened, cleaned and swept the inside and out so that it's darn near monastic; sellers naturally want their home to be "popular" with the buying public.
When it isn't - despite their best attempts - it's a bit like being the kid who wasn't asked to the prom (okay, that kid was me). No matter how much we love our homes, we want to know that other people love them as well. Unlike stock investments one randomly buys and sells, homes are largely emotional statements - for buyer and sellers alike.
Still, regardless of how "emotionally compelling" a home presents, it must also feel like a "good value" at the end of the day in order for a qualified buyer to step in. Or to quote the supremely dynamic, Tina Turner, "What's love got to do with it?" The truth is that neighbors, friends and buyers can all "love" your home but if it isn't priced right, the chances of it selling are greatly reduced in our more conservative marketplace. (Sorry!)
Having seen a dramatic correction in home values the last few years (even in high-end communities) many buyers feel inclined to exercise restraint in their next home purchase. This is especially true of first-time buyers who come to the table with NO equity from a previous home. Even those who might comfortably afford more, are often buying less expensive homes and who can blame them? More seasoned buyers have experienced first hand the shift in power.
So if waiting isn't in your game plan, you will want to list your home with a market value slightly under neighborhood comps. And if you've been on the market for more than two weeks without an offer coming forward, it may be time to reduce your asking price. When your demands meet market expectation, you're likely to get "approval" in spades.
"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me!
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.