How to Tell if Your Home is Overpriced

BUSTED. Google snapped the pic in 2014, it’s still on the market.

BUSTED. Google snapped the pic in 2014, it’s still on the market.

Most homebuyers and sellers put their emotions front and center during a home transaction.  For Realtors, the “stars in their eyes” may help with a quick purchase, but it can definitely work against you on the selling end. Sure, it’s easy to say that every home from Strait Lane to South Dallas that takes too long to sell is overpriced.  But when it’s your home, you need some detachment.

Searching Ebby.com, in the last 30 days, 5,163 properties reduced their price … 1,722 in the last week.  Getting the price right the first time is becoming more important.  Since I’ve been in a “guide” mood lately, here’s a home seller’s guide to knowing if your home is overpriced.

(Realtors: Feel free to slip this under your seller’s door … It’ll be our secret.)

1. If The “For Sale” Sign Was Captured by Google Street View … in 2014

I recently saw a listing (above) for a home that looked great but I wasn’t sure where it was.  Like many, I fired up Google Maps for a gander.  I went a step further to check out the houses on the block using Google Street View … and that’s where I saw your sign on the lawn circa 2014.  BUSTED!

Waiting for the market to wise up and rise up to meet your price is a fool’s game.  All sorts of research shows that the longer on the market, the lower the eventual selling price. Sure, in a hot-as-heck market you might get away with that … but like the “desperation derby” in any bar at closing time, after something’s been on the shelf too long, people wonder what’s wrong with it and stay away.

A corollary to this is seeing snow in listing pictures in September.

2. If You’ve Changed Realtors Multiple Times Without Lowering The Price

It’s not my price, it’s you. I get it, it’s your baby, and that mean ol’ Realtor had no right to cheapen her.  But Realtors are professionals who understand your home as an asset, not the place where Junior took his first steps.  Listen to dispassionate opinions when yours is clouded.  It’s unfair to not budge with one Realtor only to lower your price with the next one. That’s punishing one with the weapon you wouldn’t give them and that ain’t right.  Don’t punish the truth and then offer the spoils of honesty to the next one.  For shame …

But if your first Realtor gave you a pie-in-the-sky estimate just to win your listing, it’s A-OK to dump ‘em when they waste your time and fail.

Price History 2

3. The Property Has Been On And Off The Market For Years

This is kind of a corollary to No. 1. You list the home for some unrealistic price, get frustrated when the market yawns, and take it off the market in the hopes buyers forget. Then you re-list it … and again … and again.  I expect you’re thinking all those mean buyers will have moved on and that a new crop will, like Joan Crawford, “give you the respect that you’re entitled to.”

While the buyers may be different, the Realtors are the same.  They know the drill.  Besides, a smart buyers asks for the sales history or finds it on Zillow.  They stay away because they know you’re not budging and no one else thought it was worth it either.

…and I’m sure that $25,000 reduction will make ALLLLLL the difference.

Oh yeah, it was that $900 scaring buyers away.

Oh yeah, it was that $900 scaring buyers away.

4. Listing Price Lowered by Pennies

We’ve all seen those feeble attempts to reinvigorate a stale property by listing the property for piddley amount less.  You think the “price reduced” banner will be catnip to buyers.  Nope.  The magic of the internet rats you out.  Everyone sees the amount of the reduction and has a chuckle.  You ain’t fooling anyone but yourself.

Sometimes No. 4 gets combo-ed with another trick. You know, back on the market six months later listed at $100 less.

Many Period Details …

“Many Period Details …”

5. Thinking Your Crack Shack is Worth The Same as a Renovated Home

You see this midcentury home, meticulously restored to mint condition, and figure just because you haven’t touched your home in 40 years, it’s in the same league.  You may have original pink tile in the bathroom, but you’re not getting a “renovated” price when you haven’t cleaned the grout since Nixon.  Renovations cost money — money you’ve elected not to spend.  No having your cake and eating it, too.  Sorry.

"The owners demand it be listed at $500,000 ... I passed."

“The owners demand it be listed at $500,000 … I passed.”

6. You Selected The ONE Realtor Who Agreed to YOUR List Price.

Sure, a Bataan Death March of Realtors traipsed through your house before you found one willing to lie to you to get the business.  All the others said $400,000 to $420,000 list with a sale expected at $385,000 to $390,000.  But you just knew you could get $500,000. So you hired the Realtor with the most desperation and/or inexperience who’d agree to a price.

I can hear you now … “If it doesn’t sell, we can always lower.” But as No. 2 and No. 3 say, the market gets wise to those shenanigans.  You finally sell at $360,000 … 18 months and three Realtors later. (I admit making this mistake selling my first house, and oh, how I paid.) 

7. Expired Dates Within the Listing Patter

You’re a desperate, but immovable seller (never a good combo).  You and your Realtor decide to have an auction-style call for bids on such-and-such a date.  The date passes … and passes … and passes.  We all see that you called for bids four months ago …because your Realtor was too lazy to change the listing patter … and yet you’re still “active” in the MLS.  It’s the real estate equivalent of crying Wolf.

On the one hand, we know you’re desperate. On the other, we know you’re immovable, so we don’t even try.  Patience is a virtue most don’t have when the chances are slim.

8. Six Identical Units Listed … All Cheaper Than Yours

Lots of Realtors have a thin thesaurus of real estate patter they slap into every listing they have.  One of the most egregious words in the high-rise sales hymnal is “rare.” Considering unit 101 is identical to 201, 301, 2001, etc. they’re the very definition of not-rare.  This means that when there are multiple identical “rarely available” units for sale and you’re the highest priced, you better have a dang good reason.  Don’t believe me?  Type “Dallas” and “rarely available” into Google.

In fact, only if the other listings are 40-year-old dumps and yours was taken to the studs last year, do you get to be the most expensive and perhaps even say rare … in conjunction with the renovation’s rarity, not the unit itself.  Because, while pretty rare, I have been known to contact all the listing agents for multiple identical units and see which seller grabs at my offer first. It’s like Law & Order.  Whomever squeals first, gets the deal.

I’m sure, dear readers, you’ve got more to share in the comments. Have at it.

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.

One Comment

  • Of course, the owners who need this most have their heads buried or eyes averted, believing that their Realtor just hasn’t found the “right” buyer yet.