The House Buyers’ Biggest Mistake

304 Taconic Road closes today at $4,350,000. I’ve already used the phrase “bargain of the century” on some other property, but dammit, this was a STEAL! Started at $15.950M in 2009.  This buyer did well, but lots of other buyers passed it up, even when it was already a bargain (anything below $7M was a great deal).
List: Shelly Tretter Lynch
Sell: Marianne Scipione

The typical buyer’s biggest mistake is not believing it when the broker says, “There’s nothing wrong with this property. The reason it’s been on so long is because  the initial asking price was too high”.

The most alert among you will, after reading my previous post, realize that if over-pricing causes properties to sell for far below their actual market value, then obviously those must be the smartest properties to buy! And you would be right, except for one teensie-weensie little problem: buyers remain convinced that a “stale” property has some hidden defect and there’s a “real” reason it hasn’t sold that the broker won’t disclose.
And of course, this near-universal suspicion causes stale listings to drop even further in price. That’s fine for the buyer who finally gets it, but plenty of other buyers miss their chance as it is drops further and further into the true bargain range.

Here is an example: a $6,000,000 property starts out foolishly priced at $8,000,000. A year later, it is marked down to, say, $6,995,000. Another year goes by, and it’s down to $5,995,000. You could pick it up at this point for $5,500,000 and you would be saving $500,000 from it’s “true” value of $6M.

But of course, no one touches it at this point because, after two years of sitting on the market, it has become stigmatized: “something must be wrong with it”, say the buyers.

So now the sellers have to keep reducing it in order to make the place such an incredible bargain that it overcomes the stigmatization. What price will do the trick? For this example, it will probably have to drop to $4,995,000. At this price, there’ll be a last-minute flurry of activity and possibly multiple offers. It will likely close at that last asking price of $4.995M. Did the buyer get a deal? Unquestionably. But suppose you picked it up 4 months earlier at $5,300,000? Not quite as good a deal, but you could have had it all to yourself back then, with no one competing against you.

Here’s the moral to the story: Don’t wait till the bitter end. If your broker tells you it’s a bargain, buy it  now! If you don’t believe your broker, get a different broker. And finally, when you’re out looking, by all means look at all the new-to-market stuff, but also have your broker put together a package of all the listings in your price-range that have been on the market for one year or more. That is where the bargains are hiding.