Selling • October 23, 2012

Why Price Points Matter

It is no secret that anyone selling their home in Westchester County, or Iowa for that matter, wants to get as much money as they possibly can for their property. There are a variety of things a seller can do to maximize their price, such as staging the home, having the broker do a good video, professional photography, keeping the place tidy, and making sure all showing requests are accommodated. Pricing strategy is among the components of a strong plan, and part of that strategy is understanding price points as they relate to consumers.

The most frequent myth in my experience is the belief that, all things being equal, asking for more money will attract a higher offer. That is seldom the case. The current market, while no longer in a crash, is still incredibly price sensitive, and the typical buyer proceeds with great caution.They often do not even look at a property that is over their price point.

If a property is priced higher than comparable properties, the buyers will not make a higher offer. They will, as a matter of fact, engage in a war of attrition with the seller, watching on the Internet and waiting for the price to come down before they even take a look. Over priced homes tend to remain on the market longer, become “stale,” and, once the seller become hip to the need for a reduction, often “chase the market” where a reduction still has the property behind the value curve of the competing homes.

Here is a typical scenario:

A home owner, seeing comparable sales to their own property of $475,000, $465,000 and $480,000, is advised that the best price for their home would be $499,900. Instead, they elect to price the home at $509,000 to “building more negotiation room.” However, instead of selling in the first 60 days, they have a dearth of showings and experience frustration.

When they finally do lower their price to $499,000, they have missed their mark and get a low offer of $450,000, which does not result in a contract. Eventually, the house does sell, but after several more months on the market than expected and for $20,000 lower than originally thought.

How does this happen?

One of the big reasons is missing the mark on price point. A home priced at $509,000 may not even be seen by buyers who are looking no higher than $500,000. Part of the reason is the drop down menus on real estate sites where price increments are typically $25,000; the other part is psychological. Even if a consumer can type in their own numbers, they still use round numbers like $x00,000, $x25,000 and $x50,000. That is strike 1. Then in any market, there is a finite number of buyers for that locale. If the competing homes sell to that finite number of buyers, then the only way to compensate and attract a newer buyer to the area is via a price reduction. That is strike 2. Starting at $499,000 in the above scenario would get more eyeballs on the house, more showings, and more opportunities to attract an offer.

Starting out with 2 strikes is inadvisable. It is not an exact science because no one can predict the future or what will happen in the economy, but understanding how best to price the home can avoid these headaches and get the seller packing sooner, and for more money.