Months are what separate buyers from sellers

Both sides lose when buyers and sellers dig in. (Flickr photo by toffehoff)

I have a theory about the failure these days of the natural tug-o’-war between buyers and sellers to result in successful negotiations.

In short, it is that many sellers set listing prices based on where they think — or hope — the market is today or at least within slingshot range of their aspirations.

Sellers just can’t come to terms with the state of the current housing market, which is showing tentative signs of stability in Manhattan — at least until Washington, war or the panoply of other imaginable events unsettles it.

Desperately and understandably, they want to recoup the cost of their renovations and walk away from bubble-era purchases whole.  Ask them, and the candid ones will tell you how much they have been counting on an enviable return on their investment. Naturally, the concept of “investment” is key.

For their part, many buyers — worried about where the market could go and unwilling to consider paying more today than they would tomorrow  — make offers that target their expectations or fears about the future.  They are concerned about a future that awaits them as little as a month two away.

What if prices slide still more?

What I believe is that neither side is necessarily obstinate.  Instead, each side operates from a yawning gap between their different sets of assumptions.

Although responsibility for the divergent positions must be shared, I have little sympathy for buyers who are blinded by their fear of losing money.  Anyone might well worry about buying too high and selling too low, as many sellers reflecting on their purchases and renovations in the recent past undoubtedly do.

But that worry isn’t going to get the deal done, any deal.

Instead of ferrying their fears to the negotiating table, however, anxious buyers would do everyone a service by waiting to search and make an offer until their concerns subside.  They’ll be happier if they do.

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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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