Dear Buyer, A buyer’s market is not a fire sale….

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Fire SaleThe Westchester real estate market is now truly a buyer’s market.  In most communities, the number of Westchester ny homes for sale is in excess of six months inventory.  This is not universal throughout the county.  But for the most part, the county is in a buyer’s market. A few days ago, I wrote a blog about seller’s stuck on unrealistic prices (Dear Seller, About that number in your head…)  But this is one of those markets where unrealistic expectations are not limited to one side of the transaction.    Fueled in part by media reports filled with sturm und drang (storm and stress) many buyers have confused a buyer’s market with a fire sale.

Unfortunately, unrealistic expectations can set buyers  up for  unnecessary disappointment and frustration.   There are several flavors of unrealistic buyers out there.

The “I want to steal a house” investor:

This buyer is determined to find  a home for pennies on the dollar. They comb through listing after listing and call agent after agent to show them home after home that looks as though it is the bargain of the century.  The trouble is that once they see the home, they realize that this is beyond the simple fixer-upper.  A new coat of paint is not going to do the trick.   These  homes don’t just need TLC – they need to be gutted.

This type of buyer needs to realize that there is no free ride here.  Many of them have been  watching too many late-night TV shows that claim that banks want to get rid of these properties at “any price.”   After the way the banks have behaved over the past year – does anyone seriously think they are going to get the better end of any deal involving a bank?   Banks have shown  themselves to be more than  capable of looking after their own interests.

The “I’ve got champaign taste and a beer budget -but I’m not settling” buyer:

This buyer can appear in any market. Since affordability has improved, it might seem counterintuitive to observe an increase in this type of buyer right now.  Yet, that’s what I’m seeing.   They want far more than they can ever possibly afford and the buyer’s market media hype is giving them tacit permission to push for the impossible.   The sad thing is that this buyer is not looking at the increased affordability of the past year as the gift that it is – instead they are on a quest for even more.

This type of buyer has two choices: bite the bullet and buy what they can truly afford or roll the dice and hope that affordability increases still further.   The latter has true risks in this market. Although prices may decline further, affordability  is probably not going to increase because interest rates are almost certainly headed northward.   This may well more than offset any further price decreases.  For affordability to increase the buyer has to look to their own finances not the marketplace in order to afford “more.”

The buyer who will only put in offers 10-20% below asking price no matter what the comps say:

This type of buyer is of the mindset that “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.”  They want to “test” the seller with a lowball in the hopes that the seller is desperate enough or ignorant enough of the comparable solds  to accept.  As I said in my previous blog about sellers:  asking isn’t getting.

Not only does this rarely work, but it can really offend the seller to the point where the buyer could lose the sale.  Low-balling is not a good way to win friends – or negotiate a sale.  Offers should be based on the comparable sales – NOT the asking price.  Many seller’s have already priced their homes realistically.  A realistically priced home is more likely to be having multiple offers – so low-balling is a bad idea.

At the end of the day, buyers need to take a realistic look at the comparable sales.   Those numbers are not lying and placing realistic offers in that “sweet spot”  where they are consistent with recent sales – leads to success in the long haul.

In the end, the sale and purchase of a home should be a win-win for all concerned. It’s not about “beating the market” or “getting the better end of the deal.”  It’s about negotiating a transaction that works for all parties.

© 2010 Ruthmarie G. Hicks – All rights reserved.

Please feel free to contact me anytime to request additional information or to set up an appointment so we can explore your listing or purchasing needs. I am easy to reach by phone, text or email. Or, if you just want to continue your search online, the links below will help you get started.

Phone/Text: 914-374-5529


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