How not to scare off buyers…

There is a decent article today in the NYT (free registration required), discussing how sellers can help the sale of their property, or how they can kill the deal in ten seconds flat. Some highlights from the article…

• Sellers can sabotage themselves with “evil lawyers and twisted brokers.” They can also unwittingly alienate potential buyers by attending their own showings, restricting access too much, tussling over whether they’ll leave window treatments and light fixtures, and engaging in clumsy or high-handed negotiations.

• Restricting access to a buyer who wants to make a repeat visit with a contractor, architect or decorator is another mistake. Sellers who perceive such intrusions as a put-down of their tastes and lifestyle ought to swallow their pride.

• Sellers can undercut their own cause by simply refusing to leave their property during showings. It’s the surest way, say brokers, to cut a buyer’s interest off at the jugular.

• If you’re priced at $1 million and someone offers $925,000 for an apartment on the market for four months, that’s not a bad offer. If you come down to $995,000, you’re apt to get resistance from the buyer and they’re likely to go somewhere else if there’s something on the market.” Countering with $975,000 would be a better response.

We’ve seen inventory levels in San Francisco cut nearly in half in the past 60 days (from MLS data, the high in 2006 was 1811 active units on Oct 23rd, compared to 1065 units this week, and it will drop even further next week), but that doesn’t mean that buyers feel a shift in the market. They would just like to feel (just as the seller would like to feel) that the deal is a fair one.

The biggest challenge I’ve seen this fall is the nearly-guaranteed buyer credit request prior to their removing the last of their contingencies. These credits are rarely anything more than just symbolic, but since a seller likely didn’t get the mind-blowing, 27-offer parade of buyers, they are likely to feel like they’ve already given the buyer a break.

The best thing to do at that point is to look at the big picture. A seller who is willing to walk away from a $1M sale over a $500 credit “out of principle” is not looking at the big picture. That property would have garnered tens of thousands of dollars less if it had gone back on the market. Ultimately, focus on the end result. The seller wants to sell, and the buyer wants to buy. There’s almost always an equitable way to make that happen.

Even if that means the seller gives up a couple thousand dollars to appease the buyer.

How Not to Scare Off Buyers [New York Times]

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