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Monday, June 19, 2017

Home Egonomics - Key West Real Estate at Work

An article in The Washington Post discussed the role emotions play in buying and selling real estate. People think they make calculated decisions when buying or selling a house. The article says research shows emotions play as big a role as intellect.

The article stated that evidence is mounting that people set prices on real estate (especially as applied to homes) as much on ego and self-image as on an objective analysis of the market. This is where the term "sticky prices" comes from -- sellers who won't budge from their price demands or other contract terms to make a deal happen. 

Research economists formerly believed that people made important economic decisions like robots by applying simple logic. But research over the past 20 years has shown otherwise.“These studies have illuminated a few key concepts: Many people will pass up sure profits for illusory ones. Some will turn down profits if they believe someone else is unfairly profiting more. Some will even refuse to sell if they believe they may come to regret it, because fear of future regret can be as powerful a motivator as money in the pocket today.” “In other words, people will cling to prices they recall from a brighter day, even when market conditions have changed; they will walk away from a sale if they feel the buyer is getting too good a deal at their expense; and they are terrified that [if they sell now] the market will rebound and they will feel like fools.”

The article went on to discuss the role of “loss aversion” -– the concept that people deny reality as it applies to something they greatly value when it declines in value, such as stock. They tend to hope that if they wait long enough that the value will return and that the loss they would incur will in fact never happen. 

The article rightly pointed out that most people make rational dollars and cents decisions when buying routine items such as milk and eggs, but let their emotions get involved in potentially life-changing decisions such as buying or selling a home.
Hoping for a positive market gain will not make one happen. Changing Realtors will not create any new universe of buyers if the asking price is not competitive or the house is located in the wrong part of town. 

I tend to represent more buyers than sellers because my blog attracts a good number of buyers who read my comments on the market in general and who seek more information about specific homes. When I represent a seller I suggest a list price close to the target sales price. Some sellers prefer to list higher avail themselves of the opportunity to negotiate to a lower and more acceptable price. They think that by setting the bar at a lower level they might miss the chance to sell at a higher price. (Go back and read paragraph 3 above.) The Key West real estate market is the most active between late December until Memorial Day. This is the time period most buyers who are seeking a second home located in Key West will be in town and theoretically making offers to buy. 
One of the first questions that comes out of the mouth of most serious buyers is "How long has the house been on the market?"  If the house has been on the market in Key West for more than 60 days many buyers will assume the house is either over-priced or that there is something wrong with the house or the location. When buyers ask this question they are guarding against buying something that has something wrong with it. Houses priced correctly in Key West tend to sell very quickly because of the serious demand for homes here. This is buyer risk aversion - buying now before some other buyer gets the property.
I firmly believe sellers should not let their egos get in front of their rational thought processes when it comes to setting the asking price. Twenty-seven years ago I worked for the Resolution Trust Corporation, the federal government agency set up to dispose of billions of dollars of assets from failed savings and loan associations. I worked in the Colorado regional office where my department was tasked with managing the sale and disposition of numerous multi-million dollar assets located primarily in the western United States but also in Louisiana, Tennessee, Washington DC, and New York. We went trough an ardent decision making process to determine asking prices on assets and then to evaluate offers. Out job was to sell assets, not to admire our portfolio. We had to write "Cases" to justify the marketing plan and the approval of offers when received. These were government owned assets. Ego-nomics had nothing to do with these assets.  Decisions had to be justified by sound business practices. My former boss would invariably comment: "Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered!" That phrase ought to be posted to every would-be home seller's refrigerator door. 


Anonymous said...

Overpricing as a result of agents doing one of two things:

1. Trying to flip the market and create pre-2008 prices
2. Buying listings

You said it right...pigs get fat...hogs get slaughtered. Only it should have been posted on the break room fridge of every brokers office.

Now nearly nothing sells because all those people with all that money also have all those brains and don't let emotion get in the way of sense.

I feel no sympathy for the agents there. You guys all made this enjoy sleeping in it.

Gary Thomas said...

Dear Anon, Agents do not set prices. Owners do.

I was not asking openly or secretly for your sympathy.
I am simply reporting on how some (not all) seller's
do in pricing their homes and how they respond to the
I am going to report write a report on the first six
months of the Key West market in ten days or so. You
can cast stones at some people then. But you may be
surprised or may feel vindicated by the sales figures.


Anonymous said...

As a buyer, when I see a house on the market for more than 60 days in Key West, I don't automatically think there is something wrong with the house. It just hasn't been found by the right buyer yet. But, when it is still for sale, with no price reduction, 8 years later, that tells me something. The seller is clearly not serious about selling and looking at that property will only be a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

The beautiful thing about being an American is that supply and demand still largely dictate prices. It is only human nature to get as much as you can get from a property. Sure, some sellers (and some realtors who want that commission) set the prices high but ultimately it takes two to tango. As Gordon Gecko said, "Greed is Good." Amen to capitalism!!!

Gary Thomas said...

Dear Readers. This post has nothing to do with listing agents nor the state of the market. Just about everything nice has sold or is under contract. You can read the six month sales report in a few days. You will be surprised. Haters will hate to see how hot the market has become.

My point was to illustrate how irrational some sellers can be when it comes to "their" property versus other similar properties. Their property is invariably bigger, better, more valuable because of some reason.

An agent in my office told me a story about a seller who was about to blow a multi-million dollar sale over an issue that arose during home inspection. I wrote a blog a couple of years ago about a seller who blew up a cash deal over a piece of family furniture the buyer wanted included in a cash offer. The deal fell apart; the house sat on the market more than a year; and finally sold at $100,000 less than the previous cash offer. That seller proved his point. His stuff is very important.



Anonymous said...

Everything nice...and priced correctly. Those are the ones that sell. Few and far between.


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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.