So much excitement, so early on. New pictures, new mulch, new signs. This is going to be it, this is going to be the year. The month. No, the day. Will it be today? It might be tomorrow. Certainly by Saturday. Sunday, well that’s a day off for many. Monday? Could it be? No, it’s not. A few days later nothing. Weeks, nothing. Months, nothing. A showing next Friday! That’ll be the one. What took so long? The showing is a bust. The buyer’s daughter had the sniffles and so they decided against the arduous trip up paved roads from so far away as Barrington. There was once so much optimism, so much hope. So much blind faith. And now, nothing. Days to months and months to years.
To be a seller today is to be confident. The markets are hot, mostly hot anyway, or so the newspaper says. Certain markets are slowing, the Hamptons, Manhattan, Beverly Hills. But are they slowing because they were recently too active? Are they only slowing now relative to the torrid pace of the last half decade? Are they slow, or just less magma than we’ve recently been accustomed? Even so, those are those markets and this is this market. Sellers at Lake Geneva are, for the most part, bursting with enthusiasm.
And that’s fine, for a while. Initial enthusiasm is life affirming, and it’s important. Sellers should be proud of their house, proud of their mulch, proud of the photos. Proud of that real estate description (see my prior post). Lake Geneva is a market filled with nuance and irregularity, and for those reasons alone, every seller has hope. That house sold for that much, so my house HAS to be worth at least this much. Oh how much fun it would be to sell in a market that makes complete sense. A ranch on a street is worth the same as the ranch on the same street. Here, the ranch can be worth more or less depending on so many factors, all of which are not entirely clear.
This is the new seller situation, but what of the aged seller? What of the property that hit the market with speed and has since, over time, dulled to a fruitless crawl? How does that seller feel bout so many mentions of a “hot” market? The initial emotion is anger, not at the market or at the house, but at the broker. This is the problem during times of these active markets. If a house isn’t selling while everything else is, then the blame must lie solely on the shoulders of the guy or gal whose name is on the sign. It’s their fault. And often it might be, but let’s assume you didn’t hire a bad agent, because you’re smarter than that. Then whose fault is this delay?
It’s the price, silly. Hot markets can only overcome so much. An active market might allow a seller a 10% premium over a calculated value, but 20%? 30%? Where does it end? The low inventory condition at the lake is one reason lakefront sellers are so confident. If I have a 1960 Corvette fuelie and I live in BumbleTown, Wisconsin, population 184, do I get to ask $150k for a car that’s only worth $90k? But I’m the only 1960 Corvette in town! The absurdity here is the same as a seller who thinks any price is attainable simply because the competition is nonexistent, or slight at best.
That brings us to the market today, and the confident seller of last year. Last year’s confident seller is this year’s weary seller, and those weary sellers are just who aggressive buyers should be targeting. New sellers are too optimistic. Old sellers are growing tired, and an ambivalent seller who has let their hope diminish is the best sort of seller for a value minded buyer. Let’s get out soon and find a few of these sellers. Let’s find properties that have been overpriced for so long the seller has no choice but to accept the reality of our lower offer. Sure the market is hot. Sure new inventory won’t be easy to buy without paying a market rate. But in spite of this, there is opportunity if only you’ll throw your attention towards the sellers that the market has forgotten.