The price is right, isn’t it?

Do sellers understand that. . .

. . . prices have. . .

. . .fallen?

I’ve written in the abstract about sellers who don’t grasp the true value of their properties.

Welcome now to the real world.

A former client of mine–twice!–has been telling me she wants to trade for another place on one level the duplex co-op that I sold her almost three years ago.  She and her husband paid $2 million for the two-bedroom, two-bath unit on Manhattan’s Upper West side, and they have invested another $100,000 in improvements to what already was a lovely apartment.

If the housing market has declined only 20 percent since the middle of 2007, then wouldn’t you expect the market to value the co-op at no more than $1.6 million?  Although it’s pointless to include the cost of renovations, despite what virtually every seller maintains, the apartment should be worth perhaps $1.68 million if that expense is added.

I had been thinking we should list the place for $1.7 million, a number that my client refused to consider.  So, I asked for help from a co-founder of my brokerage, Paul Purcell, whose experience in Manhattan real estate runs close to three decades, and from a friend with virtually the same amount of experience, almost all of it on the Upper West side.

When all of us visited the apartment and met with the husband, his wife being unaccountably absent, there was quick consensus without consultation on the same asking price: $1.8 million.

In addition, we thought there was a good chance that a special property such as the one in question would attract multiple bidders and an eventual selling price as high as $1.9 million.

Nice try.

The wife, whom I’ve known and respected for years as a top producing broker elsewhere, doesn’t accept either our combined expertise or strategy.  She says her plan is to invite other brokers to offer their own estimates.

I’m sure you’ve heard of “buying a listing,” especially if you read me regularly.  Certainly, she has too.  I have no doubt that she’ll be swayed by someone who tells her what she wants to hear, someone who’ll take a listing at any price.

There is nothing unusual about her.  Many sellers don’t want facts to get in the way of wishes.  It’s questionable, then, whether I’ll end up with the listing.

The customer may always be right, but, when it comes to sellers, that’s infrequently true.

Note: The comprehensive e-newsletter that I write myself and publish on alternate Fridays will be out today around noon.  Check it for the latest information about the U.S. and New York housing markets, mortgage facts, celebrity sales and purchases, household tips, relevant research, the prognostications of economists, and my no-holds-barred critiques of properties that I visit all week long.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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