“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...”

Dec 07, 2011

According to the most recent Northwest Multiple Listing Service statistics for all NWMLS counties: “For homes and condominiums sold last month, median closed prices were down 10 percent from a year ago. Single family homes ... off 8 percent ... Condo prices down more than 17 percent.”

“Brokers point to distressed properties, which tend to be deeply discounted as the primary cause of lower prices. More than a quarter of all sales last month were ... ‘distressed’ – a 5 percent increase over same period last year.”

For the great majority of sellers it is the worst of times; lost equity, homes, credit worthiness and other immeasurable personal losses. Nearly every sale is a tale of disappointment and loss for sellers.

Only ‘bank-owned/REO’ sales are truly enjoyable negotiations – we don’t care about Old Man Potter’s losses.

For qualified buyers, (those few who can get Potter’s approval) it’s the best of times in recent history. Historically low interest rates combined with the lowest home prices in a decade have created clear skies ahead for qualified buyers. [Operative word: Qualified.]

Among best of times award recipients are brokers who have tapped into re-lisiting expired and cancelled listings.

Ads touting agents’ success in selling homes after only a few days on market is touted as agents ‘secret’ marketing strategies. A Secret? Magic?  

Many ‘quick’ sales are a result of months and even years on market and then a new broker and a very new price. They are expired listings picked up and with much lower prices. But actual days on market prior to re-listing? 98, 325, 231 – at higher prices.

Magic? Strategy? No, there is none. The last broker standing with keys to the house wins. It’s all about the price.

Homeowner’s mailboxes are inundated with these and similar ads from real estate brokers. Sellers understandably think, “My broker doesn’t have this ‘secret strategy.’”

It’s P.R.I.C.E. – reflective of current market conditions – that sells homes.

Discouraged sellers cling to their list price like a life jacket with their brokers, hoping against hope that a buyer will ignore the stats and pay them what they need. Those same sellers are wooed away with tales of ‘magic.’

But then the line is delivered: “Oh by the way... drop your price.”  They are paid; the first, hard-working brokers log in their losses.

The old mantra, “Location, location, location” has become “Price! (location) Price!”  

Of course, excellent photography of your home, descriptive language, online presentation... all those draw attention. But if your home is a) priced too high b) for your neighborhood c) in today’s market, then it’s missing your target buyer – the one who’s qualified for your home.  

Price is the main key to success, not some magic formula unknown by your own broker. Excellent brokers are having their sellers inundated with these “If your home is currently listed, this is not a solicitation’” – solicitations.

Sellers change brokers and then reduce their price.  ‘No showings’ is the loud voice from this current market telling you that you are priced too high, not some missing ‘magic.’

Give your broker a holiday gift this season; extend your listing with him and lower your price – then lower it again. It’s the price, not your broker, 95 percent of the time.

Elizabeth Erickson is owner and designated broker of Gallery Homes Real Estate. Contact her at erickson@galleryhomesre.com or at the office: 425-212-4300 or direct: 425-508-1405, or go to www.galleryhomesre.com.


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