"I want your wife writing for my son, Cole," Stuart told my husband. "I always know what's happening in Tristan's world." (Guilty, as charged).
Aside from the fact that A) I am an incredibly proud mother, B) the Piedmont High School team is having an amazing post season having just qualified for the North Coast Sectional FINALS (!), and
C) baseball, as a general rule, provides great analogies for life, it's been my experience that the more accessible the stories, the more you relate, and the more likely you are to actually read the pieces I write.
And yes, my family has learned to live with the exposure . . .
The parallel with respect to cheering at a ball game or successfully marketing a home is that they both benefit from shouting from the roof tops, but without aggressive marketing by way of enticing descriptions, excellent photography, well-attended Broker Tours, and a strong Internet presence, it's far too easy for your home to get lost in the crowd (and what are you paying your agent for, if not to create real BUZZ ?). My job IS to sing your home's praises, and at the risk of tooting my own horn, I've honed this skill to a fine art.
This isn't always as easy as it sounds (not all homes are created equal) nor do they all attract the same level of attention. Some homes are more emotionally appealing; others have benefited from artful renovations and creative landscaping; while others, have commanding views or highly coveted locations, making them much easier to sell.
Even so, there is an inevitable "cooling off" that ultimately takes place with respect to both timing and pricing as spring gives way to summer, and vacations take priority over house hunting. AND as more inventory becomes available, we are quickly reaching what my Broker, John Karnay, astutely refers to as "cruising altitude."
Plainly speaking, there's only so much appreciation the market can accommodate, thus the line on the graph, doesn't move steadily upward, but rather, it levels out, corrects, and moves up again. So while the Bay Area is experiencing the most dynamic marketplace it has seen in many years (and the largest single jump year-over-year according to national reports) many of the unbelievable results have been cleverly engineered through aggressive pricing, buoyed by lack of good inventory.
That's the piece both Sellers and their agents need to keep their eyes on - available inventory. But what often happens as prices steadily climb, is the false assumption that listing prices should steadily climb as well. In other words, should the "floor" be raised substantially in order to better reflect market results?
Not necessarily. In many cases, the surprisingly high selling price of a specific property came about because the house was intentionally and strategically priced well below "market" value.
Do I believe unrealistic pricing is misleading? Yes. Is it frustrating for Buyers who have to realign their expectations in order to compete? Yes. Has the list price essentially become the "opening bid?" Yes ($1.7 is the new 1.3). Do experienced agents prefer this pricing? It depends on ALL of the moving parts. Is this strategy benefiting Sellers in a meaningful way? Yes!
Which isn't to say that "realistically" pricing your home doesn't make sense as it did on a recent sale of mine where the Sellers were unwilling to roll the dice and part with their home for less (purposely underpricing isn't without inherent risks). But if you are content with one or two qualified offers, than by all means, consider pricing your home "realistically."
However, let's concede that nearly EVERYONE covets the perceived "deal," even when it doesn't ultimately play out that way. And under no circumstances, should you ever price your home on the high side - even in today's super charged world. Chasing the market, as opposed to setting it, rarely ever plays out in your favor.
Finally, "strategic pricing" works in this day and age, BECAUSE Buyers have renewed interest in owning real estate, the cost of borrowing is at an all-time low, there is a tremendous amount of equity at play, and there is too little inventory to meet demand. Obviously, this strategy wouldn't have worked in 2008 when the markets had all tumbled and Buyers were running scared. (You have to correctly assess - and play - the market you are in.) Either way, buying a home any market, especially in a very aggressive one, requires great faith in the future.
Hey, I'm just the messenger and I am here to provide my experience, (strength, and hope) but ultimately, you will decide which path best serves you. In the meantime, I WILL keep heralding your beautiful home and making sure the market finds its way to your doorstep - post haste. And yes, Stuart, I will keep telling stories and doing my best to grab your attention. (I'm so pleased to count you among my growing readership.)
Would you expect less? Now, how can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.