Really, Don't Hurry

By Dave Fratello | January 6th, 2008
There's a pretty great house at 2812 Elm that someone, some day, is going to buy. (Click address for details via Redfin.)

In fact, the law of averages suggests that day is fast approaching. The home has been on the market continuously since Sept. 13, 2006, or 478 days at this writing. Few listings last much longer.

Maybe that's why a new print ad (click the pic for a readable version – apologies for the poor scan) urges readers to:
HURRY... This home will not last!
Oh, but it has lasted so, so long already...

Well, this is sales, right?

The truth is that 2812 Elm is a beaut with a layout problem and, for many months, a big price problem. The owners paid $1.584m in June 2005 and had it back on the market 15 months later at $1.769m (+$185k/+12%). That price was envelope-pushing at a time that the Tree Section market seemed to turn.

From Fall 2006 through Sumer 2007 – 300 days – 2812 Elm never budged. When it did take a price cut in July 2007, to $1.699m, MBC noted that in "Reality Slowly Dawns." Gradually the listing came to its current price of $1.599m – essentially flat compared to its June 2005 price.

In all this time, we know of at least one accepted offer that apparently tanked when the buyers couldn't qualify.

The sellers are surely dogged by the likelihood of a significant loss if they sell and the memory of that offer. They need the best price possible and surely perceive the value to be whatever the offer was for.

Holding out like this is how you can wind up chasing the market down.

It's worth noting the recent sales history on this home (thanks, Redfin):
  • Feb. 1998: $430k
  • Feb. 2004: $1.299m
  • July 2005: $1.584m
The 1998 buyers did a massive remodel and lived in it for a good while, but when they walked they must have cleared at least $600k, most of it tax-free – sweet. The short-term owners from 2004 also walked with some green.

Not this time, though.

What's turning off buyers? Smallish size, location and layout.

In MBC's view, 2500 sq. ft. is plenty, but this is a mid-size home in a market with cottages and 3600-sq.-footers. The location on Elm shouldn't be a strike – it's a great block or 3 here – but some don't dig it. The layout is peculiar, with one bedroom by the kitchen, another on the first floor off the living room (a natural office) and one on a split level upstairs before the master. It's a head-scratcher if you take the time to ponder how you'd live there.

To be honest, we thought twice about this story. The sellers already feel somehow "attacked" by MBC, with the agent complaining that we ought not to have published the home's True DOM in a certain weekly newspaper. We don't want to seem to be piling on for the sake of piling on.

But if you resort to ridiculous marketing tactics, you become fair game. So we hurried to write the story, knowing that doing so would inevitably mean the home would quickly sell.

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