Listing Price Reductions: Go Big or Go Home

Note:  The following is the opinion of Paul Slaybaugh only, and, therefore, patently correct.

Unless you are trying to get under a specific price barrier, you are better off leaving your asking price alone than making a minuscule reduction.

Sounds contrary to logic, doesn’t it? And contrary to the groveling we agents typically employ to wrangle an unrealistic seller into the wakeful world. Why on earth would the guy who has been hammering you on price from the listing’s inception reverse course now that you are willing to acquiesce slightly?

Because a 5k price adjustment to a property that needs to come down 50k sends a signal to buyers, and not the one you think it does. Assuming I did not hit the hooch prior to the initial listing consultation and abet your decision to list the house for $404,900 (thus making it entirely likely that the eventual buyer for your house is not currently seeing it due to his searches being constrained by a 400k ceiling), such insignificant tinkering with the price essentially puts buyers and their agents on notice that you are not all that open to negotiation. Shaving a few measly bucks off the list price is equal parts admission that the current pricing isn’t getting it done, and revelation of an unwillingness to give up on the sales price targeted.

That’s a sales molotov cocktail.

If you move your listing price from $425,000 to $419,000, everyone and their mother knows you are still looking to command upwards of 400k.

Perhaps this is the message you hope to impart, but it makes you appear even more recalcitrant than you did prior to showing the modest reduction. Of the two primary goals of price adjustment – attracting a new group of buyers, and re-energizing those who have already seen the home – you accomplish neither. Adjustment for the sake of adjustment isn’t going to fool anyone and should not be prescribed haphazardly. It is just going to perpetuate the belief that, even upon further reflection, your opinion of value is not compatible with reality.

Many times buyers and their agents will put a home on the watch list if it appears to fit their needs, but is overpriced. That very first price reduction goes a long way in their determination as to whether your home is to be a viable contender. If you show a meager concession after 90 days on the market, they will intuit that you will not be open to an offer more in line with current values. Further, at the current rate of adjustment, it will take another 2 years for you to eventually work your way down to where you need to be. Adios muchachos, it’s on to the next contender for them.

If you really have no flexibility to drop your price, you are better served to keep them guessing as to your motivations and likely openness to negotiation. Better to show nothing than to show you are thinking about haggling in cents when the buyer is thinking in dollars.

If you need to reduce your price to break into the appropriate buyer demographic, bite the faux-equity bullet and do it. Doing so piecemeal not only alerts potential buyers to your likely miserly approach to negotiations, but robs you of the impact an appreciable change brings.

I know you don’t want to give your home away, and I would be derelict in my duty to let you do so. Just bear in mind that you cannot give away that which you don’t have. If your list price does not reflect current market value, you are fretting about closing the door on money that was never yours.

If you need to make a price adjustment, make it count.

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Paul Slaybaugh is here to sell houses and chew bubble gum. He's all out of bubble gum. More About Me >>>

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