Listed? It’s just not your home any more.

This house is on the market for the "right" buyer only.

There can be no better example of a seller’s misconception about putting a property on the market than a piece in the New York Times about a couple in Greenwich Village who is listing their townhouse for $8.35 million.  Author of more than 30 novels, Robert Rosenblum is quoted as saying the following:

My idea is to find someone who deserves the house and can feel what is here. We brought our kids up in this house, and we feel it’s a magical place.

The sentiment (which is, of course, all it can be called) is understandable, if unjustified.

Rosenblum and his wife Constance Simon have lived in the place for nearly a quarter century.  They are seeking a “kindred spirit” to make the purchase, a young “community-oriented” family, a family of artists who work from home and spend their time with their children, no investor who wants to gun the house and resell it for a quick profit.  Adds the Times’ Christine Haughney:

He wants them to understand that this seven-bedroom town house will become a family member and “affect many lives” like the house in E.M. Forster’s  “Howard’s End.

That’s all well and good, and the neighbors undoubtedly will be pleased.

But. . .

The Rosenblums and other homeowners need to, well, let it go.  Their home is now nothing more than a house, akin to a side of beef to be traded at a slaughterhouse.  Once the transaction is closed, they’ll have no stake in it, no say in what the new owner does, no ties to it beyond the emotional ones they cherish.

A host of homeowners have difficulty appreciating that their proposed sale is simply a business transaction–thus, the contract–in which money is exchanged for real property.

Failing to recognize that reality, many sellers naturally find themselves resenting visits by prospective buyers, being troubled about their plans for improving the property and irrationally holding out for too much money when it comes time to negotiate.  It’s not a helpful posture.

Perhaps the Rosenblums are willing to wait a long, long time until a seemingly kindred spirit comes along.  And perhaps money is not that important to them and they’re prepared to cut the price for the “right” buyer.  But they need to enter the listing process knowing so or likely face an agonizing period of uncertainty, fruitless negotiations, or both.

While I appreciate their wish for a family like them to buy the place, I hope and assume they recognize that the definitions of family are many and that they and any broker who conspire to reject the “wrong” family will have to confront the Fair Housing Act and its consequences.

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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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