Active Rain June 22, 2011

“Hoping for That One Special Buyer” is Not a Marketing Plan

Briarcliff Manor in the SpringIn my travels, I have run across a number of home sellers who price their home based on sentiment. Market activity, comparable sales and competing listings don’t influence their price as much as “their number.”

“Their number” is not justified by empirical fact, market data, or realism, and they believe that their buyer will be that one special person who loves the place the way they do. The challenge is that their bias is borne of years-sometimes decades- of living in the home, and buyers come in cold. One such client a few years ago were the original owners, so they always lived in what was a newer kitchen to their sensibilities. The only problem was that 23 years later, it wasn’t a new kitchen anymore. 

Still, they hold out a belief that they’ll catch lightning in a bottle. Someone will come along who is that one special buyer and pay a premium for their home. 

The problem is, this person doesn’t exist most of the time, and when they do, their lender won’t agree to the price either. 

That one special buyer is not a business plan. It isn’t a marketing strategy. It is hope packaged in a dream. Depending on that one special buyer to buy rather than having a sensible marketing plan that takes the reality on the ground into consideration is like having your retirement plan be a winning lottery ticket. It depends on odds-defying luck, and that is no way to do business. 

For some people, it is hard to admit to bias or to divorce themselves from sentiment. But bias and sentiment are personal; they aren’t business. This is as price-sensitive a market as we have seen since the depression. Westchester County buyers are self interested and skeptical, and typically avoid listings that don’t appear to have a motivated seller. They are also savvy and well informed. Moreover, sellers today are competing with foreclosures and short sales, which suppresses prices and offers a huge inventory to choose from.

A smart marketing plan can’t rely on chance, nor can it hope for unlikely events. A smart marketing plan is based on facts and real events, and the sooner a biased seller understands this the sooner they can start packing. Smart marketing is objective. Catching lightning in a bottle is great for finding a spouse, but in real estate it is a slow death.