Friday, December 23, 2016

I WIll Not Give It Away

"I will not give it away." is Parseltongue for "not really for sale" and is a phrase I hear far too often. It ranks right up there with "I won't play games." in popular self-defeating language I encounter in the often emotional business of buying and selling real estate. The "not really for sale" MLS listing (NRFS) is alive and well in our market. I've written about these properties in the past, in detail here. One of the types, the impossible-to-close short sale, no longer exists in our market, thankfully, but, all of the others remain with the way-overpriced, "I will not give it away" seller type flourishing.

We've averaged 55 condo and townhouse sales each month for the last six months in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. Half of those properties were on the market less than 50 days and 41% sold in a month or less. That's an indication of strong demand and accurate pricing. At the other end of the scale, ten of the sold units had been on the market for over a year before selling. Every one of those had multiple price drops before they got into a range that was finally acceptable to the market.

In contrast, half of the current condo and townhouse listings have been on the market for more than 90 days. The inference is obvious, they are over-priced. We currently have 229 condos and townhomes for sale on the Cocoa Beach MLS in our two cities. A third have languished for over half a year and an obstinate 8% have held their gilded units out for sale for over a year. The poster child of this NRFS parallel universe has been listed for almost two and a half years with a 20% price increase along the way. Zillow will allow anyone interested to play this game at home with their "Make Me Move" listings. Slap a crazy high price on your house and wait for the mythical buyer willing to pay your fantasy number. It's fun but has not proven to be a successful strategy. These stats tell us that the majority of the current MLS listings are owned by sellers with unrealistic expectations. History tells us that most will modify those expectations before selling. Some like the two years and counting listing will proudly cling to their incorrect opinion of their unit's value and never sell. Their listing agents will continue to sell other realistically priced properties to interested buyers who aren't willing to overpay for the listing that prompted their inquiry.

These over-priced listings typically have one of two types of listing agents. There is the agent who knows the price is unreasonable but encourages showings and offers with the hope that the seller will eventually see the light and accept or respond to a fair offer. In the meantime the NRFS listing may draw inquiries that lead to sales of other reasonably priced properties. Then we have the agent who for various reasons is committed to the fantasy price. She may be trying to boost or protect comps in the building, she may be related to or friends with the seller and can't speak the truth or she might not know the dirty details of the comps she's relying on to support the price. As a buyer's agent, it's frustrating to come up against these listings regardless the type of listing agent. I prefer the one who knows the property is overpriced but in the end, until the seller is willing to accept reality, some properties are just not for sale.

Of the 229 units for sale this morning, a large number are overpriced but haven't been listed long enough for our combined-days-on-market screen to identify them. I think it's safe to say that there are less than 100 condo and townhome units for sale in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral that are asking within 10% of fair market value. Within that group are always a few recently listed gems. One of my clients was able to score what may turn out to be the smoking deal of the year in a luxury direct ocean condo in south Cocoa Beach. They were only able to do this because they had done their homework, knew what prices were fair for the type of unit they wanted, able to recognize a deal when it appeared and probably the most important part, able and willing to act immediately.

Those who are looking shouldn't despair over low inventory and unreasonable sellers. The search may take longer than planned but there are and will be reasonable sellers of the target property type. Buyers who know the range of fair value for their target property type and who are ready to act when something appears are the ones who will be successful in their search. If you need a well-trained bird dog with his nose in the ocean breeze, contact me. I know this patch of sand, the birds and the other dogs and they know me.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”   __Upton Sinclair