Property Grunt

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Summer Slowdown

Record sales? My broker must not be doing a good job as our open house traffic has been anemic. They hardly show the apt during the week. I have a great 1 bdrm in the east 70's and its not moving after 2 months--Is it our broker or the summer. I think its time to take it off the market till after labor day. what do you think?

This was a comment from a reader on my entry on the record sales in June. This is my response.

Dear Reader,

I can only imagine your frustration regarding your current situation. Before I propose any solutions I would like you to first take a couple of deep breaths, have an aperitif, a hot bath or anything to get you relaxed. Because selling an apartment is stressful as it is and there is no reason to compound it.

First of all I am going give your broker the benefit of the doubt that he or she has been doing the best job they can by having open houses and showing as much as your broker can. The most horrible thing about being a broker is that you do everything you are supposed to do and the end result is nothing.

The sale of an apartment is a linear model where the seller puts it on the market; a buyer sees it and then purchases it. Unfortunately the reality doesn’t always follow the model.

There are many reasons why you have not received an offer, which I will present to you.

1. You are quite correct about the summer. The traffic is usually a lot lighter because many customers are out of town during the weekends and families are on vacation. A significant amount of agents do not even attempt open houses because they feel the clientele they will attract will not be as motivated or the small amount of people that do come does not justify the time and cost of an open house. However many brokers still do open houses during the summer because their gut instinct tells them that out of the dozens of buyers who are still looking there is one buyer how will fall in love with the apartment and buy it. Bottom line you have to show if you want to sell.

2. Is your apartment priced properly for what it offers? Did you do the comps for your building? Did your broker present a list of apartments that have sold or are on the market that are similar to your apartment? The comps of closed sales are now far and few due to the lack of inventory on the market but if your agent did their job they should have presented you with as much information as possible allowing you to make an informed decision. If an apartment isn’t priced properly it will not sell.

3. Why do you say your apartment is great? What attributes do you feel justify the cost? Are these attributes being marketed? More importantly are these features attractive to buyers? If these attractive elements are not properly marketed that could be a reason why your apartment has not received any offers. If you are marketing attributes that are your own taste it might be in conflict with the tastes of others. The best way to see if you are on the right track is to see any one bedrooms in your building that have recently sold and see how they are presented on the market.

4. You state your location is in the east 70’s. Where exactly? Are you on Third Ave a block away from the 77th street subway station? Or are you all the way in the boonies by York? Are you above a bar? Do you get a lot of street noise? Those are also factors that may be limiting the amount of traffic coming to your apartment.

Now you have two options assuming that you still want to sell.

Option 1 Keep showing

If you decide to take this option you should definitely have a sit down with your broker and discuss the situation. During this sit down you will be tempted to put your foot up your broker’s ass and if you have a good broker he or she will embrace their BOHICA. (Bend Over Here It Comes Again). Part of the broker's job is to take as much abuse as possible from their sellers. Afterall they act as the buffer. However please be aware all these factors that I have presented are out of their control. So even though it may feel good to provide negative stimulus it may not accomplish the desired objective.

With your broker you should evaluate your current strategy and try to figure out what is not working. You should ask them how often they are marketing the apartment, check their web ad and if they are using the New York Times. Also ask if they are a member of REBNY. By being a member of REBNY your apartment would be listed in their database, which would expose it to the majority of brokers in Manhattan. Also field any suggestions from your broker to improve the apartment. You might even consider a price reduction.

Once you have formulated a new strategy, you should make the effort to keep on showing and exercise patience. This is not an instantaneous process therefore you must rid yourself of any delusions of instant gratification.

I am assuming that you signed an exclusive agreement; hopefully there is an exit clause. I mention this because if you feel that your broker is not fulfilling their duties you may want to change brokers. If there is no exit clause you can just wait for it to expire. I feel that this should be a last resort because it means you have to start the whole process over again. As I have stated before I am going to give your broker the benefit of the doubt because if he or she wants to make money that apartment needs to be shown in order to sell. Hopefully they are doing everything in their power to sell your apartment.

The second option: Take the apartment off the market.
One of the setbacks of having an apartment on the market too long is that it gives the impression that it is undesirable and often buyers will attempt to use that as leverage in negotiation. If you make the decision to do that I highly recommend you do a walk around of your apartment and determine what improvements need to be made. A fresh coat of paint, some light bulbs and some air freshener will do wonders for an apartment. You should consider rearranging your furniture or even getting new furniture.

I know it may sound extreme but you have to remember that when you put your property back on the market the buyers especially the ones who are repeat visitors are going to be expecting some type of rebirth. It also helps your broker because he or she can tell customers how you redid everything creating more credibility for yourself and your broker.

As I have stated before you also might consider a change in price whether it is an increase or reduction. But that is entirely up to you and I recommend that you consult your broker about this matter.

Treat your apartment like a bride treats her wedding dress. Make it a pristine and holy shrine that everyone will come to worship.

I leave you with this one thought from Buddha:

“Our life is shaped by our mind for we become what we think.”

Good luck.