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2007-10-29 14:16:00

There Is A Serious Shortage of Home Sellers!

Real estate analysts (and what American is not among them these days?) tend to survey the sea of sale signs in most areas and join the gloomy headline writers who conclude that there are not enough ready, willing and able buyers in the market place.

Not so, gentle reader! The shortfall is among sellers, of which there are relatively few treading water in the aforementioned sea.

"Whoa, Nellie!" you might exclaim (ignoring the by-line clearly displayed above), "any fool,  including the by-lined  fool, can see that it's buyers that are now in short supply."

In so doing, you might cite the hordes of hungry house-hunters who roamed the house-hunting roadways during the many months of a recently-deceased feeding frenzy, fueled by mortgage lenders with deep pockets and all the fiscal restraint of sailors on leave.

It is a now a fact of real estate life in most areas that their numbers - and that financial fuel - have shrunk like last month's birthday balloons, and it's true that there are fewer prospective buyers rummaging through the current logjam of listings.

Enter the law (not the theory or fantasy) of supply and demand, which dictates that when the number of consumers is dwarfed by a surplus of products, either prices take a hit or activity takes a holiday.

That reality underpins my contention that, while there may be too many homes for sale, there are too few legitimate sellers offering them.

This position is backed up by more than a half-century of experience on and behind the firing line of real estate brokerage, during which I have seen and survived several cycles of inflation, deflation and stagflation, as well as so-called sellers' markets which morphed into buyers' markets and vice versa.

Through all that trauma, certain facts remained unchanged - facts that are being ignored by too many would-be sellers and, sadly, pseudo-professionals. They are as follows:

  1. No home in history has ever sold for a penny more than the best offer obtainable from the best buyer available in the then-current market.
  2. The only way to determine the true value of a home is to thoroughly and aggressively test the market and challenge the competition. That process need not be a lengthy one, since buyers and their agents do comparison shopping and readily react to an attractive offering.
  3. Once that procedure has been pursued, properties remaining unsold for an extended period of time are, quite simply, overpriced. Forget about what similar houses sold for in the past (which is history), or what those would-be sellers might have invested in their homes (which is irrelevant), or what qualified appraisers say they are worth (which are only opinions). The critical test is exposing one's home to the greatest practical number of prospective buyers and active agents, then analyzing the results.
  4. A home that is appropriately priced and effectively marketed, preferably by competent professionals, will ALWAYS attract attention, generate activity and ALWAYS sell for what it's worth (refer to Fact #1 above).

The problem today is not that there are too few buyers. Demand is what it is and neither wishful thinking nor wistful memories will increase its size.

The more serious shortage is of genuine sellers; i.e., those who meet these specific criteria:

a) They are willing and able to accept the best price obtainable from the best buyer available in the current market, and

b) They have something to lose if they don't do so.

"Sellers" who do not fit that mold are not sellers at all and should be encouraged to take their properties off the market. (Realistically, they're not actually ON the market, anyway!)

The market is not always kind, but it is never wrong - and those who believe otherwise pay a heavy price for ignoring "The Facts Of Life For Home Sellers."

FOOTNOTE: For a further dose of this perhaps-unpleasant medicine, visit and click on that caption. You have nothing to lose - except, maybe, a pipe dream.

If that doesn't work for you, take two antacids or a short snort and DON'T call me in the morning!

Here's the bottom line - take it to the bank or to any nearby Wailing Wall: When proper pricing is combined with effective marketing, there is a buyer for everything and, given those conditions, any home can be sold in any market.

The ritual dances of negotiation may change with market fluctuations, but the drumbeat of reality does not!

(Joe Klock is the author of 432-page collection of sales tips, The Real World of Selling Real Estate. World renowned trainer Tom Hopkins says, "The wit and wisdom of Joe Klock is a great tool to lift you up as you face the daily challenges of the wonderful world of real estate sales." )

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