Irrational home sellers and buyers

Irrational Home Sellers and Buyers
Irrational Home Sellers and Buyers (infographic from keepingcurrentmatters.com)

Have you wondered why so many people rushed to purchase homes in the recent historic seller’s market? Why have home buyers been scarce, even in a buyer’s market? The man with the answers is Ori Brafman. Ori Brafman has an extensive background that includes organizational speaker and consultant, professor, and writer. His new book, co-written with psychologist Dr. Rom Brafman (his brother), is called Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior (Doubleday, June 2008). The book is a culmination of research that explains what compels us to act irrationally. And may explain irrational home sellers and buyers.

In a recent personal correspondence about irrational behavior in real estate, Ori offers these concepts to explain such seemingly overt irrational behaviors: loss aversion, “getting stuck in the past,” and value attribution.

Loss aversion, a concept described in Prospect Theory, describes why people focus on limiting their losses as opposed to seeking gains. Ori explains that loss aversion explains why home sellers have a hard time selling for less than their original purchase price, even when it means they could potentially lose more by waiting for the downward market to end. He explains that it is not only psychologically painful, but a shot to our ego.  This may explain irrational home sellers who wait for an unrealistic sale price.

This would explain why many irrational home sellers have had a difficult time adjusting list prices in the downward market. Even when a home seller will not realize a loss, they perceive a loss based on home values from a year ago. Based on this perceived loss, home sellers will list their homes for sale at higher than market prices. This fact was validated in a research study conducted David Genesove and Christopher Mayer entitled “Loss Aversion And Seller Behavior: Evidence From The Housing Market” (published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 11/2001). This research used data from the Boston real estate market in the 1990’s and serendipitously found that home sellers are unwilling to list and sell for a loss.

Irrational home sellers and buyers can “get stuck in the past,” looking to buy or sell a home for a price they missed some time ago. Rather than pricing their home at a realistic price, many home sellers look to sell for a price they would have sold for a year or two ago. Additionally, this could explain why some home buyers constantly offer low ball prices for homes that have obvious higher values.

Value attribution plays a large role in how home buyers view homes they may purchase. Ori explains that a home buyer might place less value on a home that is priced less than other neighborhood homes, “even when the home meets all of their criteria.” When a home is priced “rationally,” a home buyer might wonder, “What’s wrong with this house?” Home buyers will go through the home and arbitrarily decide which features devalue the home.

Together, these concepts might explain why home buyers have been scarce in this buyer’s market. Many home buyers have placed less value in owning a home in a declining market, worrying about further market declines. Additionally, home buyers irrationally worry about unrealized losses, even when buying a home may be the rational thing to do.

By Dan Krell
© 2008

Original is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2008/08/29/why-do-people-act-irrationally-when-buying-and-selling-real-estate/
This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Copyright © 2008 Dan Krell.

De-mystifying Home Staging

by Dan Krell © 2008
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Home staging is often thought of as a fancy name for decorating or cleaning a home prior to it being sold. In fact, “home staging” is a term that is used to describe the process of preparing your home for sale that goes beyond normal maintenance. The purpose for staging your home is to make your home as appealing as possible to potential home buyers so your home will sell quickly. Surveys conducted by the Accredited Staging Professionals a (StagedHomes.com) and Homegain (Homegain.com) indicate that staged homes sell faster than non-staged homes.

Although home staging has been around for over thirty years, it only gained wide acceptance this last decade. Many home staging techniques are derived from interior design; home stagers often sketch rooms to analyze the best use of space.

Staging your home’s exterior is just as important as staging the interior because a home buyer’s mood is set by their first impressions. You should consider the condition of your home’s landscape, façade, roof and gutters. Unkempt flower beds and cracked walkways can quickly give the impression that the home is in disarray. Additionally, missing shingles and misaligned gutters give the impression that the home has been poorly maintained.

The basics of home staging include decluttering, rearranging, and sometimes redecorating. Home sellers often have tunnel vision about their homes. Removing the clutter of your daily life from your home is the cornerstone to home staging. Decluttering goes beyond cleaning and storing unused items. Because home buyers can get distracted by the home seller’s lifestyle when viewing a home, home stagers talk about “depersonalizing” a home.

You may have spent years making your home personal to your lifestyle, however now that you are selling it you need to depersonalize it. Depersonalization means to neutralize your home by removing as much of your lifestyle as possible from the home so anyone can feel as if this could be their home. Personal items, such as family photos, can focus the home buyer’s attention on your lifestyle and away from the home.

Additionally, the layout of each room needs to be considered so it feels bright and roomy. Properly placed furniture can assist home buyers to feel at ease and “at home.” Too much furniture in any room tends to make a large room look small and feel cramped. Additionally, misplaced furniture can make a room feel awkward and unsettling.

Let’s face it, sometimes a room needs a makeover. However, redecorating does not have to be an expensive affair. Sometimes having an extra lamp or even painting a wall can make the difference between shabby and chic. If your furniture is out of date or in poor condition, furniture rentals can be a short term solution.

If the home you are selling is vacant, staging each room tastefully can facilitate your sale. An Appraisal Institute study indicated that a decorated home sells faster than an empty home.

Although many real estate agents have been certified in home staging, professional home stagers usually have a background in interior design. The International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP.com) is a source of information about home staging, including tips on staging your home and finding a home staging professional.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of August 11, 2008. Copyright © 2008 Dan Krell.

 

Home Selling Tips

Because not all listed homes sell, you should be strategizing how to make the most of your sale. What to do? Here are some home selling tips .

Think about the basics that go into a successful home sale. The first is to price the home according to the comparables in the neighborhood. The second is to consider the condition of the home. The third is to have a marketing plan. And lastly, you should have a close working relationship with your Realtor.

Home selling tips

Of course your home should be priced according to the comparables in the neighborhood, and progress should be gauged with the other homes on the market in the neighborhood. That means besides pricing according to the homes that are comparable, your Realtor should expect results within the parameters based on those sales also. Regardless of what you hear, the seller sets the selling price. Your Realtor is only an advisor providing you the data and opinion.

Sale price

Comparing your home to similar homes that sold is critical in deciding a sale price. Comparables are homes that match your home in style and size. If you have a three bedroom rambler, you should compare your home to other three bedroom ramblers in then neighborhood.  Typically, comparables are restricted within a subdivision or within about 0.5 mile to 1 mile. And sales not older than six months (unless there is a lack of home sales).

Home condition

Why is your home’s condition important when deciding a sale price? If your home has deferred maintenance or hasn’t been updated for twenty years, it’s not going to get the same price as the renovated similar home across the street. Be honest with yourself about the home’s condition.  If your home is not in move-in condition, think about the cost of renovating in the price along with market conditions.  If it’s a buyer’s market, you may have to consider a lower price or the home will languish waiting for a buyer.  If it’s a seller’s market, there are more home buyers willing to buy a home with the intention of renovating it.

Marketing plan

You need a roadmap to success. If your Realtor has not yet presented you with a marketing plan, ask for one. Your Realtor should have a plan of action to sell your home. Putting a sign in front of your home and entering the information in the MLS is not typically enough sell a home. Market conditions frequently change, and your Realtor should have a concrete plan to sell your home. The plan should include not only how the home will be marketed, but how the agent will take you from contract to closing.

Your listing agent

The final aspect that is important in selling your home is the relationship between you and your Realtor. Besides having confidence in your Realtor, you should feel comfortable being honest (for good and bad).  It’s not a good sign if your Realtor is often defensive when you express concerns and needs. Your Realtor, on the other hand, should also be honest, as well as timely with information concerning your home. Besides communicating the activity of the potential home buyers, they should also keep you up to date with the neighborhood market keeping an eye on the other homes on the market.

How will you market your home and what will you do if the market changes? When you are interviewing Realtors to sell your home ask about their marketing plan. Ask about a home pricing strategy.  Ask how your home’s condition affects the price.  Ask how the agent communicates and what you should expect from them.