Daily Archives: April 23, 2005

For What It’s Worth
April 22, 2005
Showing Houses
The most dreaded code in our real estate book is “LBACC”, for “listing broker must accompany”. It is hard enough to juggle a showing schedule around our time requirements and those of our customer and the various homeowners whose houses we intend to show. Add the schedule of the listing broker into that mix and it’s a mess. The other weekend I had seven houses to show, all LBACC, and it wreaked havoc on the day. It’s nice to be able to plan a logical route, showing houses in the Back Country, say, before ending up in Belle Haven. But we did a lot of doubling-back that day and missed a few houses entirely when we couldn’t coordinate our schedule with that of the listing agent.
It’s understandable that an owner would want her own agent present when her house is shown. The owner has come to trust her agent, knows that she knows the house and, most important, probably won’t let the cat out and will lock up as she leaves. Sad to say, this is not always the case when a house is shown by just a buyer’s rep. But the point is to sell your house and the best way to do that is to show it to prospective buyers; anything that limits that process is hurtful. My advice is, usually, to forego the luxury of having your listing agent accompany every showing and hope for a quick sale that ends your torment as soon as possible.
(Really) Big Trees
Years ago while out on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula I saw a steady stream of logging trucks, each carrying just a single, huge log on its bed. It seemed a shame that such magnificent old trees were being carted off to the sawmill but I was an Easterner and didn’t consider it my business. In Greenwich, these days, we seemed to have reversed the process and I now see a steady stream of trucks coming the other way: they each carry a single live tree on their beds, headed for installation in the Back Country. At $20,000 to $50,000 a tree, that’s an interesting phenomenon.
Price it Right
Even expensive houses are selling quickly in this market if they’re priced correctly. Renee Gallagher (Round Hill) put 18 Cedarwood Drive on the market last week at $5,695,000 and it was gone instantly. The house was a real beauty and impeccably renovated but it’s always helpful if a house is priced just low enough that buyers see all its merits and not its flaws. As my brother Gideon likes to point out, a high price affords buyers an opportunity to focus on their objections: too low ceilings, too close to the road, etc. and they often turn away from a property. So don’t reach for the stars in pricing your house.
Jump On It
This sordid business can occasionally be incredibly gratifying. I’ve been working with a family now for some time and we were all despairing at ever finding a house that met their needs. A house finally came on the market last week that, while not meeting every single criteria they wanted, approached perfection close enough to justify moving quickly, which we did. Because these buyers had been looking for so long they had a huge advantage over those just beginning their search. They knew comparable values, they knew what neighborhood they wanted and they had lined up their financing. The latter is most important when reaching for a popular house because it allows buyers to present a clean offer, free from contingencies. The result? The sellers are delighted that, after just three days, they could stop showing their house and they buyers are relieved that their search is finished. Sunday saw buyers and sellers happily chatting away, the buyers’ children busy picking out their rooms and a swarm of neighborhood kids on the house’s front porch, waiting to play with new friends. Pretty neat, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the yeoman efforts of Jean Ruggiero in holding the deal together. Jean was merely filling in for the listing agent in her absence but she treated it as though it were her own deal and was incredibly helpful, way into the night. Jean’s a real professional and a pleasure to work with.
Does This Mean We’re Getting the Transamerica Pyramid?
Until now, my favorite real estate ad was one describing twelve-foot-high mahogany doors opening “into an intimidating foyer.” But last week a new listing on Bonwit Road described the house’s location as “a neighborhood in a mist of gentrification.” I haven’t the foggiest idea what that means, but perhaps the area behind Caldors is being transformed to look like San Francisco.

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