A recent transaction illustrates some of the necessary elements to survive in today’s real estate market – patience, persistence and a little bit of luck. This applies to buyers, sellers and Realtors alike.
I listed a townhome for a wonderful couple with two small children two years ago. They had outgrown it, and wanted to buy a house with a yard for the kids. We priced the townhome according to the latest comps in the area, and it seemed reasonable at the time. In fact, at that price, the owners would be taking a loss on the property, which they had bought 10 years earlier.
Little did we know how difficult the townhome resale market was. We reduced the price a couple of times during that period, despite the fact that not a single unit in their complex sold during that time. In the end, it took almost two years to sell, and since we closed there have been two more sales in the community.
Now, in my 25-plus years as a Realtor in Atlanta, I have never had a listing anywhere near that long, but times have indeed changed. My clients were absolutely wonderful, not only sticking with me the whole time, but listening carefully to any feedback we got, whether it was about the price, or something about the unit itself.
Here’s the funny thing about feedback – you really have to parse it. If I have 10 showings, and I get 10 different types of feedback, it’s not particularly useful. However, if 5 out of the 10 showings produced feedback regarding the same issue, it’s time to sit up and pay attention.
Sometimes the feedback is something you can’t do anything about – such as the fact that these townhomes don’t have garages. Sometimes, however, we can address an issue that keeps coming up – such as the rooms being too crowded or the paint colors being too strong. By all means, if you can address these issues, do it.
These are actual buyers out there in the market providing important feedback and they are shopping by comparison. If, however, the most common complaints are things that can’t be changed, sometimes you can overcome them with a price adjustment.
During the course of the listing, we made changes based on the feedback and adjusted the price for things we couldn’t change. At some point, however, it just became a case of waiting out the market, which proved worthwhile. We sold the home at a price that was acceptable to both the buyer and seller.
Here’s the other side of the story. Over those two years, we spent a lot of time looking at homes for them to buy, though they didn’t want to purchase before selling their townhome. There were several times we all got very frustrated, because what seemed like the perfect house would come up, and they weren’t able to do anything about it. On the upside, this kept them educated in the market we were exploring, so they knew when the time came they would be able to make an informed decision.
All of this waiting, watching and exploring paid off perfectly in the end. Once their townhome was under contract, we jumped into the market and ended up finding what they say is the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood. You could say that the stars just aligned perfectly, but I have to believe that we did all the right things, and their patience and persistence were rewarded in the end. That’s my favorite kind of real estate story.