Daily Archives: March 13, 2010

Putting An Expiration Date On Your Bid

Hurry! Expires in 24 hours!

(Gideon Fountain writing For The Vacationing Christopher Fountain)

You go to see a house that has just come on the market, you like it, you bid. Then, the listing broker informs you (through your broker) that “The house has only been on the market 24 hours, there are 6 more showings scheduled, so the owners will respond to your bid when those showings are completed.”

Now what? Withdraw the bid?  Inform the seller that your bid “expires” in 12 hours?  Both of these options are acceptable.  The latter move might force the seller’s hand, might not.  Ask yourself what you will do when it’s time to sell your house…If the first person in bids your price (or close to it), will you shut down the process, cancel the other scheduled showings, and shout “Sold!”?

If you can honestly say you would react that way, then you have every right to be upset when someone else doesn’t.  But if you would behave as this seller is, then you will grant the seller some “flexibility”.  Are they “shopping” your bid?  This early in the game, no, because there is no need to.  They just want to see what the next few buyers think.  It may very well turn out that after 6 showings, you are still the only bid (although you will rarely be informed of this), in which case, a smart seller will wise up and accept your bid.  Now, aren’t you glad you hung in there?


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Real Estate: The Delicate Art

Gideon and Chris attending an open house....

(Gideon Fountain writing for the vacationing Christopher Fountain)

Julius Caesar once observed that  “After 20 battles, a mule is still a mule.”  Such pithy sayings made him a hit on the dinner-party circuit in downtown Rome, circa 70 B.C., but they often left his audience puzzling over what he actually meant.  Sorry some of you had to wait over 2,000 years, but what he meant was this:  Not everyone GAINS FROM EXPERIENCE.

This brings to mind real estate brokers who, on the surface, seem to have in common many qualities of mules, with one exception, we actually DO gain from experience (or at least, we’re are capable of it).  If a person observes, over and over, a process, whether it be house-selling or fish-catching, he will eventually detect patterns.  Unlike the general public, a typical broker is in a position to observe, over and over again, what works and what doesn’t when it comes to selling a house.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, “Ye gads, how could this Gideon Fountain (or fill in name of other broker) POSSIBLY know more than me about ANYTHING?”, and I sympathize with this viewpoint.  After all, wasn’t I ranked 934th out of a class of 1,000 at Greenwich High School?  Aren’t the barriers to entry to the real estate biz so low as to be laughable? True and true.  Yet, we get back to those mules and the difference between them and real estate agents.

You, a member of the general public, may sell a house every what, 5 years? At most?  We brokers watch with interest that many transactions EVERY DAY.  After a few years in the business, we have witnessed THOUSANDS of transactions and the ones that fascinate us the most are the ones that are over and done within a short time frame.  Not because the broker gets paid quickly, although that is a wonderful thing indeed for a person who works for nothing most of the time, but because of the allure of a trouble-free transaction.  It is good for the broker but even better for the seller. These “perfect sales” happen about 10% of the time.  The house goes on the market, a bunch of people bid, the sellers choose the bid they like best (not always the highest dollar amount), and the contract is signed by both parties within 2 weeks of that first broker open house.

When this happens, it’s usually not luck, it’s because the seller and broker agreed on a price that caught the market’s attention, that is, made the market put down its cup of coffee and say “Good gosh, THAT’S a bargain!” For the other 90%, they are left to sit and wait.  And the market does the same thing.  Everyone sits and waits, the seller, for “his price”, the buyers, for the (inevitable) price-reduction.


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