Blog: R.E. Tales
(Hey, they're not all pretty...)
We are still in our Christmas doldrums (which is why I have time to write this). The number of calls is way down and the percentage of them that are serious is way up, which is common at this time of year. This past year, I had far fewer calls on my better (ie – more expensive) properties than I expected and I have not been able to tie down whether this was industry-wide, locally-related, or just us. The statistics all deal with houses, so can’t be relied upon for our kind of business.
Right now I am in a state of negotiations on a new standing ad. If I go for it, I can rotate what is featured… but then it costs $2100 and I am not at all sure it will bring a benefit which will exceed that. I am also considering ads in some of the old house sites. I have used several of these sites before, and I like to support them because I really like old homes. But I have, in the recent past, enjoyed a spectacular lack of success with them and having been burned a few times, and more reluctant to place these ads than I once was. These are the kinds of places that should bring results. And, years ago, though it wasn’t spectacular, they did.
But we have turned a corner, sociologically, in this country. (Actually, several corners, but we won’t go there now…) The young folks who are buying now, the 30-50 year age group, believe in the throwaway culture, where it’s cheaper to just buy new than repair something. Concurrent with this attitude is one that no longer values old things as much as our generation does. I see it with my kids; they’d rather have a newer house than an old one which is just as nice, only cheaper. I have been told the same thing by antique dealers. Their business is down – some collectibles are doing well, but well-built old furniture? Forget it; the younger generations want new and modern, even if it only lasts a few years instead of generations. They’ll just replace it. These are fads and will pass, but they may last many years before that happens.
The print publications which I routinely use are not great fits for non-farm properties. When I use them, hoping to surprise myself. I don’t. If there are places that might work, I am all ears and willing to try new outlets. No guarantee that I will take every suggestion, but they will all be carefully considered.
Every seller is interested in rich NYC buyers. We are at the edge of how far they will usually travel (3 hours). In general, these customers have money, but they tend to be hard sells (like Californians). They may have city mentalities and expect things which we don’t have here. And some of the things we have that they lack (scenery, peace and quiet, safety…) are valued more by us than by them. I have always felt that for most city dwellers, the jump to a farm is too wide a step for them. The suburbs is a step better suited and feels less risky to them. That said, of course city folks do buy up here, only not as frequently as they do closer to NYC, where though prices are substantially higher, they are more comfortable in those surroundings.
One thing that I have noticed is that our properties are not cookie cutter similar. Each one is unique and some times it just takes extra time to fit a unique property with a unique buyer. I always keep in in mind that “at the right price, everything sells”. Finding the right price often takes some trial and error. If I was given a time line by which a place had to be sold, I would advise the owner to price it low and, after a month, start dropping the price. No one wants to hear that of course. And many folks can afford to wait until they can get what they feel they need to get. As a result, it usually takes them longer (unless they happen to get lucky).
On acreage, here is a scenario that I often come across. The seller asks what they can get and I give them a range with “fire sale price” at the low end and a “lucky” price at the high end. They will consider this for a while, take the lucky price, then add to it a bit, just enough that I get a lot less calls. Human nature.
On that subject, sellers always feel their property is worth more than buyers feel it is, just as buyers always want to pay less than is asked. When we make sales, we most often meet in the middle and have two parties who are serious about their wants and are committed to making it work.
I feel you are better able to understand nuanced explanations than most people. There is more art than science to this.
Some are merely amusing, some can be an immense help. All are interesting.
After 40 years, I've learned a lot, & acquired unforgettable experiences. Follow these long enough and you'll eventually get the whole book. (Names probably changed, for obvious reasons.)