They Say It's Nice to Be #3

By Dave Fratello | September 28th, 2010
The word among RE agents is that you want to be the third agent on a listing.

You'd prefer to be so charming and rigorous and persuasive with a seller as to nail the right price on a property the first time. In that sense, it's better to be first. You'll close the deal if all goes right.

But the third agent should benefit most from the sacking of a problem seller's delusions.

There's only going to be a third agent if the listing has had issues. Time and hard experience have hammered a seller to the breaking point.

If they really mean to sell, by #3 the sellers are thinking: Hey, maybe it IS the price, not my harebrained agent's failings – maybe that's why I can't sell this house. Finally, they'll start to make the cuts they need to make to get a deal they can live with.

That's the theory anyway.

On their third agents currently:

301 16th is a mixed-up walkstreet contemporary along Highland. Remember when the security guards patrolled the outside a few years back? Long story.

The 1990 home's technically a triplex now, though the listing promises it "can easily be converted back into 2 units or even to a very large single family home."  

Very large? How about 6br/7ba, 6300 sq. ft.?

That's a lot, it's by the beach, and oh, did we mention Highland?

The listing began in February at $4.649m, running 61 DOM with a 9% cut before quitting. The next agent burst in with a price $350k (-8%) lower, and cut further to $3.650m, another 6%.

But that listing also had a fairly short leash, running 58 DOM.

The new listing starts a trifle lower at $3.599m. As we write, it has logged 3 DOM. We're guessing this new, third agent had better figure it out before Thanksgiving.

3212 Maple (5br/4ba, 3450 sq. ft.) is a 2007-born home that has drawn a couple of recent mentions here at MBC. It's also on its third agent of 2010.

The home sparkles and is a cut above your typical late-bubble speckie. It's also vacant, as the owners found new work out of town and seem to want to sell, rather than become landlords.

We say "seem" because, well, they have fired 2 agents but haven't changed the price in a while.

The first listing ran less than 2 months in our hot, hot spring at $2.399m. That price seemed to reflect the sellers' desire to get close to the $2.5m they paid in June 2007, but it wasn't going to happen.

The second listing ran almost 4 months, ending at $2.199m. The newest agent took it over and put it up at the same price. We're now a month into that version of the listing, nearly 200 DOM, and if you're the third agent, you're hoping the sellers will finally make their big move before, say, Christmas.

114 N. Poinsettia (5br/6ba, 6400 sq. ft., including basement), the newer (2007) Spanish at the corner of 2nd and Poinsettia, doesn't quite make the cut as being on its third agent, but it does feel like it fits here nonetheless.

The current listing is the home's fourth separate run on the market and, until this July, the sellers had kept the listing in the family.

The outsider, er, local agent – who's still sharing the listing with family – did start at the same point where the last listing quit: $4.995m, and ran it at that price for almost 3 months.

But this week, nearly $500k more has come off the top, with a new price at $4.499m.

This cut is part of an enormous – if slow – arc of reckoning.

The very first listing launched in May 2008, only months after the home was finished and occupied by the owners, at $7.750m.

The most recent cut brings it down -$3.251m/-42% from those lofty heights. Yes, there was some lack of straight talk when the first listing launched.

The question now is whether the local talent can bring it home.

That's just a quick selection of multi-agent listings, but we expect to find it hard to beat the record of 1829 Poinsettia, a little Craftsman-inspired remodel (3br/2ba, 1450 sq. ft.), which wasted 4 agents' time over 2 solid years – not to mention the time of buyers who toured it, found it intriguing and tried to figure out how to deal for it – before the fifth made a sale.

Longtime readers may recognize the spiffy little cottage as one of our first minor obsessions. (Also the subject of our first pricing poll.) The listing ran from a high of $1.785m in May 2007 to its sale price of $1.189m in April 2009 (-$596k/-33%). (See "Recent Closings" from May 2009.)

As to the current crop, not all of the active listings looks like a shoo-in for agent #3 – or the one non-family guy – but we'll watch and see how that received wisdom plays out.

If someone means to sell, they'll figure it out, right?

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