Price “improvement”

I have noticed that more and more listing agents are using the phrase “price improvement” in place of the more traditional ones like “price reduction” and “price adjustment”. As you have probably learned by now realtors love euphemisms and cryptic descriptions so it seems logical that these preferences would find their way into some of the fairly straight forward aspects of residential real estate sales.

What does it all mean though? Is there really a difference between a price reduction, adjustment, and improvement? Perhaps. Perhaps not. No matter what words are used to describe a change in the price it all amounts to the same thing: the seller/s are now willing to part with the property at a lower price (not $20,000 under the new and “improved” price, mind you, but that’s a topic for another day). Regardless, it likely will not come as a surprise that this is not always how buyers interpret the decision. Buyers may assume the “improvement” means any or none of the following:

  1. The sellers are desperate to sell.
  2. There is something terribly wrong with the property, aside from the price originally being higher than buyers in the market were willing to pay.
  3. The sellers are probably willing to “give the house away” and accept unnaturally low offers that make cash only foreclosures seem as though they are being sold at premium prices by comparison.

More often than not though, a price reduction/improvement/adjustment really just means the biggest problem impeding the sale of the home is that it was originally priced too high for that particular market when taking into account its condition, location, updates (or lack of them), need for repairs, size, price point, financing options, etc. If you see that a giant sinkhole has opened up in the yard just prior to the “improvement” then you have your answer as to why the price has changed. However, if you see a listing that has been reduced by quite a lot and you cannot pinpoint any obvious reasons for it during showings, in the property disclosures, within the deed, or through the inspection of other sources of information about the property then there is a good chance the above is true. It was simply priced too high to begin with.


Rain or shine

New Hampshire is a state that can present many challenges to realtors – particularly listing agents. A specific one worth mentioning is the somewhat unpredictable weather. To some extent the weather in NH is not all that mysterious. There are four seasons and we all know what comes with each. For the most part, anyway. The problem is that on a day to day basis the weather is subject to change, making planning efforts futile at times. And by planning efforts, I simply mean the act of an agent setting up a date and time with the seller to either send a photographer to take pictures, or take them on one’s own. Some agents are brave and agree to let their sellers take their own pictures, and then use all of them in the listing, but that’s a situation that deserves its very own post.

The realtor chooses a day in the future that looks promising as far as weather goes. However, there comes a time (many times really) when two days after setting up an appointment to take the pictures the following week, the agent sees that the day said would be a nice one is now threatening rain, snow, sleet, hail, or other. Perhaps there will be a tornado or a blizzard? One never knows when they live in New England. The agent then has to decide if they will try to reschedule the appointment to take pictures, wait to see if the forecast changes again, or live dangerously and take those pictures come rain or come shine.

And that isn’t even getting into the drama that occurs when the weather is less than cooperative over an extended time period when prospective buyers come to see the home…


It’s all gotta go

One of the greater challenges real estate agents face when taking on a new listing is communicating precisely what they need the seller to do to prepare the property for sale. It does not help that those getting ready to sell their home are hoping to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible. Though many sellers know deep down they should invest some time and money into preparing their home for the market, some cling to the hope that maybe…just maybe…their home is the one exception to the general rule about properly prepping one’s home for sale before it hits the market.

An issue countless realtors and sellers fail to see eye-to-eye on is clutter. If a person’s beliefs about clutter in a home were to fall somewhere on a spectrum then real estate agents would be on one end, representing the mindset that less really is more and a home should appear professionally staged at all times, even if people still live in the home.

While real estate agents generally tend to spend their time on the minimalist side of the two extreme ends of the spectrum, sellers don’t. For instance, some sellers do understand they need to remove as many personal items as possible and reduce the amount of furniture in the home to help maximize the space. After all, nothing makes a room seem smaller than furniture and clutter. And so that’s what these sellers do and we as realtors fully appreciate this when it happens.

Other sellers, however, are what I would refer to as “clutter blind”. Clutter blindness is a serious problem that is not easily fixed when ignored for too long. Those with this condition can stand in a room that is completely filled with objects and think the room has just the right amount of furniture, personal belongings, etc. In fact, to those with clutter blindness the room may even feel somewhat empty and lacking. The rest of the sellers fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. This is manageable for most agents because reaching a compromise with their seller about what stays and what goes requires only small sacrifices on the seller’s part.

There is no shame in being clutter blind.The vast majority of us show symptoms from time to time so it is not a rare affliction at all. But to sell a house, one must take steps to overcome this particular issue. The first step is to admit the problem exists. The second step is listen to the realtor’s advice regarding what belongs in the house during the selling process and what does not. A good rule of thumb is to operate under the assumption that for every one item of clutter or furniture the seller removes, there are ten others the realtor expects (or expected) to disappear.