10 Dairy Road
This house, so suddenly vacated by its previous tenant, is back on the market for rent ($20,000 per month) or for sale ($5,200,000). A touch of psychological impact here, eh?
Another agent wrote to me suggesting this for a topic and it’s a good one. Except for vacant/keybox situations, house showings are done by appointment. The seller is notified, she tidies up the house, turns on the lights (if she’s smart) and clears out for an hour. So what happens when the agent and buyer pull into the driveway and the buyer says, “no way, let’s go to the next one”? At the very least, I think the agent should at least enter the house and sign in and preferably, both agent and buyer should view the house. Someone has gone to the effort to prepare for the showing and it’s just plain rude to blow them off. I’ve been fortunate in this regard and have always had clients who share my sense of courtesy but I carry a pistol just in case. I know of instances where the owner has been by the window, waiting for visitors and seen a car pull in, back up and speed off. That’s just mean, so don’t do it.
The More Things Change
From a previous column published in early February, 2005: “At the risk of offending my core clientele, the worst offenders of the “bid to lose” game are Wall Streeters who are convinced, all evidence to the contrary, that the market will soon drop and fear that they’ll look like chumps for paying anything close to the asking price.”
A year-and-a-half later many of those would-be buyers are still sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the bubble to burst. I hear from them, via Blackberry, every time the Wall Street Journal (or Barrons or whomever) runs another article on the end of the housing world. But if you read these articles carefully, you should be able to find distinguishing features. An over-building in south Florida, where a development of 500 homes is now offering a 10% discount is nothing like Greenwich, which has almost no land left for development and certainly nothing for tract homes. To repeat myself, real estate, like politics, is local. Homes should be considered places to raise a family, not speculative gambles. And, if you buy in Greenwich and stay put for a few years, history says that you’ll do just fine.
Sell That House
The market never slowed down last August but it feels as though this year we’re returning to normal conditions, which means we’re resting before September. But if you have a house to sell you might want to consider doing something to move it now: lower its price, accept a lowish offer that’s been hanging out there, paint the damn thing purple and donate it to charity, whatever. Because, come September a ton of new listings will apprear and your house is going to be at a disadvantage. So move it now or compete in September by pricing it attractively. I have heard that our average house only sells after its third price reduction. I’m not sure that’s accurate but most new listings have an element of wistful thinking in their original price and if that element has been wrung out of yours, you’ll look good in comparison.
Speaking of Wistful Thinking
A new listing in Old Greenwich appeared the other day. Just from its address, I thought that it had to be at least $300,000 over-priced for its neighborhood but I visited it to see if I was missing something. Nope; in fact, I raised my estimate of its missing the mark to $500,000. So one of us is stupid, me or the seller. I think the seller wins that contest because that same day I saw a new house, in a slightly better neighborhood, asking $200,000 less and another, far nicer renovation in what is a far better section of Old Greenwich asking $300,000 less. If an agent hopes to sell either of the latter she’ll show the first, first. “You don’t like this one? Then let me show you something better that costs less.” You won’t even need to read Real Estate for Dummies to make that tactic work.
Mysteries of the Internet
I use Googel’s free Gmail service and it does an excellent job of screening out spam and tossing it into a spam file. Recently about 90% of what lands there is Japanese spam, written in Japanese. I understand that it’s almost cost-free to send this stuff out but, even free, why would anyone bother mailing it to America? Someone has too much time on his hands.