We’re in a seller’s market - no question. There’s little inventory and significant demand, which has caused buyers to compete for properties and as a result, prices have steadily risen. But there is an element here that some sellers don’t totally appreciate, which is that while buyers are very strong, they’re also very sensitive - this is a stressful endeavor for them. Many buyers are like thoroughbred race horses - super powerful, but also twitchy and easily spooked. I was meeting with a potential seller the other day, who said he wanted to keep 4 beautiful light fixtures in his condo, as well as the perfectly proportioned bookshelves built into the library. He figured that with the strength of the market, it didn’t matter what he did. We see this a lot these days, and I want to implore sellers to respect the buyer journey - they’re working hard to secure a property and they’re paying a lot to do it. What they don’t need is to feel taken advantage of. When sellers nickel and dime buyers on exclusions, even though the dollar amount in question can seem negligible relative to the price of the property, it can make potential buyers feel resentful and can dampen their enthusiasm for the property. And even if sellers can get away with it, it still might not be the right thing to do - it is the principle of the thing. So I encourage sellers - if you have a light fixture or bookshelves that work perfectly with your property, please consider just leaving them for the next buyer. Chances are you’re going to get a great deal - it is good karma to not try to optimize on every angle. If the light fixture or bookshelf has real emotional importance, then remove it in advance of marketing the property, and have it replaced with something very nice but less meaningful. Let’s honor what buyers are going through - it is awesome when we see sellers who understand that the market will be good to them, and in turn they do what they can to make the buying experience a good one for the future owners of their home.
#499. We put 3 Monmouth Street on the market last week. It is a beautiful old multifamily home, built in 1898 and sited on Somerville’s Spring Hill - a neighborhood between Porter and Union Squares, notable for some excellent Victorian and Greek Revival architecture. 3 Monmouth has been carved up over the years, and is a funky and cool 5 unit building. Because it is old, and the layout is unusual, we wanted to give buyers some time to understand the property and perform due diligence before we had our client review offers. And after 7 days of showings, we had 9 offers to review with our client. One of the offers had an inspection contingency “for informational purposes only”. What does this even mean? All inspections are for informational purposes only. If it is in an offer, then it is a contingency, and it exposes the seller to the risk that a buyer walks away from the deal. There’s some vague belief on the part of some Realtors and some buyers that an inspection is for the purpose of renegotiating a price. This isn’t correct. All an inspection contingency allows one to do is to evaluate the property with a qualified home inspector, and then decide whether or not to proceed with the transaction. As it turns out, many buyers will attempt to renegotiate the price before walking away from the deal - which is totally fine. An attempt to negotiate on the part of the buyer creates no obligation for the seller to participate in the negotiation. The seller can refuse to discuss the price concessions, and then the buyer decides whether to stay in the deal or walk away. In this instance at 3 Monmouth, the broker representing the buyer indicated that an inspection “for informational purposes only” didn’t actually detract from the strength/sureness of the offer. If that’s really the case - if you’re a buyer, or a broker representing a buyer, if your decision does not hinge on the results of a home inspection, then don’t include it in an offer. Do it after P&S when you’ve got skin in the game - you can get all of the information you need prior to closing, and you won’t be asking the seller to absorb the risk that the deal isn’t secure. If you do feel you need a home inspection prior to feeling good about the deal, then use the time before an offer is due to have a home inspector check out the property with you. Then you’ll be reducing your own risk and giving yourself a shot at making a strong, clean offer.
This is a little scary. I’ve thought about writing a blog for a long time (come on, who hasn’t?), but being in the throes of an already busy life, I worried that the guilt over not posting regularly enough would consume me. I already have plenty of worries about the things I should be doing better - I don’t clean my car often enough. I don’t take the dog on long enough walks. Many nights I feel terrible about rushing through the kids’ bedtimes. Adding one more fixed, ongoing obligation seemed to be a threat to my undoing. I worried I would have nothing to say and the days would stack up without posting. And then somewhere I stumbled across that question that I had seen hundreds of times before - but this time it hit me and actually resonated. “What would you do if you didn’t worry about failing?” So this is somewhat of an experiment - it is so tangible - my only reason not to write a blog is because I’m afraid I will fail at it. Now lest you think not failing at writing a blog is my biggest stumbling block in life, I want to assure you that I have bigger fish to fry in this department. Having said that, this whole blog thing is a great test case/experiment in not worrying about potential failure. So, game on. I’m calling it 500 Notes from the Field. I figure I can write 500 posts, and my goal is for it to take fewer than 5 years. I know - I just did the math too! That’s 100 posts a year! Yikes. But the good thing about it being that many posts is that I figure my reading public (hey, mom and dad!) will manage their expectations appropriately. Some posts will be for consumers of real estate, some will be for purveyors of real estate, and sometimes I bet I’ll run out of things to say about real estate and I’ll talk about other things. So…. Here goes. And if you have any ideas for future posts, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a note - would love some help.