The_Bayou, Other/Just Looking in Newton, MA

Do sellers even want to sell their houses anymore?

Asked by The_Bayou, Newton, MA Thu Feb 7, 2008

I have been looking for a house for more than a year and half, and I am starting to get frustrated with the people selling the homes. I have made multiple offers with no success. On three of these homes I offered the full asking price, but the buyer's Realtor got greedy and asked for a 2nd round of bidding. I walked away in two of those cases and the house sold for less. In the other instance I made an immediate counter offer but was told by the seller's agent thought I was pressuring the owner to sell. House sold for a little more than asking -deal fell through at inspection and it eventually sold for less than my offer.

2 houses went to inspection. Both times owner would not make minor concessions (less than 1% of price), and I walked away thinking these are not the people I want to get into a transaction with. 1 sold for less, other has not sold yet.

Realtors, are sellers getting greedy?

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The_Bayou’s answer
I should clarify that the issue is not people offering more than me and then paying less after inspection related deductions. In my case it is the sellers agent asking for a second round of bids after I was the highest bidder, and then when I don't participate in the second round, the seller accepts a lower offer than the one the rejected from me. Usually the seller's agent tells my agent that the seller really does not want to lose me as I am the highest bidder, and tries to keep my in the race. But, when I attempt to raise my bid ahead of the 2nd rounds, with an offer that expires before the second round, I am usually rejected.

I have no problem with people trying to get the most money for their home. I just think that it would make sense for them to remember the old saying, "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Don't let a full price offer get away in hopes that a better one will come along.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
Sounds like you've had a frustrating go lately. Keep your chin up! Although inventory levels have declined slightly in some communities, it is by no means a sellers market in any areas I'm aware of in Massachusetts. Smart, informed, educated sellers are NOT getting greedy. According to MLS data, over the last three months, single family homes in Newton have been selling for an average of 96% of their last list price and 91% of their original list price. A lot of communities share similar numbers.

From the little you've told us, it sounds like you're making sound, prudent, rational decisions. And the proof in the pudding is the fact that many of the homes you've pursued eventually sold for less. Keep doing what you're doing. The market is still on your side. The cost of money is still cheap. Ask your agent to run some recent numbers in the communities you are shopping in. I bet you'll feel better knowing that your experiences are typically the exception and not the rule. As both a certified residential appraiser and a Realtor, I'm seeing very few "2nd rounds of bidding" and the numbers indicate that the needle is still tipping towards the buyers. Let me know if I can help in any way. Take care and good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
"Do you think there may be a negative consequence to offering full asking price on the first weekend a house comes on the market? "

YES!!!!!!! This is what I've been saying....go after the older ones if you want flexibility...
Pricing a property is a stressful and not usually 100% sure thing, on top of that, sellers always think that "their" property is worth more than it actually is. Agents try to get them to list it lower, you're just feeding into their beliefs......

As far as agreed upon drops... we hope to get it outta them :-) but regardless, sellers usually have their absolute lowest in their heads. It certaintly doesn't go into the contract.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
Do you think there may be a negative consequence to offering full asking price on the first weekend a house comes on the market? Also, Realtors, do you reach an agreement with you listings on offers they will accept. For example, if you list a house for $500,000, do you get the owner to agree that he/she will accept an offer within 3% (example) if the other conditions are acceptable (closing date, financing, contingencies)?

My agent tries to get me into homes on the Thursday or Friday before the first open house. But, by finding homes that match my needs, and offering the seller exactly what they want (full asking), I may be sending the wrong signal to the seller and they may believe "if this guy offered $X on the first day, we should certainly get $X++ if we hold out through the weekend." What they don't realize is that I have a very specific type of house that I am looking for (Capes with 3br and full bath upstairs) and I am willing to pay a little higher than a lot of other people because when I find a typical Cape with 2br upstairs, I factor in the cost to add a third. My realtor has tried to use this to my advantage in negotiations, but the seller assumes that if I want it that bad, I will pay more (which, admittedly I should have on one occasion), but usually I am only willing to pay what I believe a house is worth, and when that happens to be what the owner is asking, great.

Plus, I am a pre-qualified buyer that is renting, so I have nothing to sell. My realtor has tried to play all of this to my advantage, but I think logic goes out the window when the a seller sees a full offer on the first day and thinks he/she may have hit the jackpot and gets ready for a bidding war.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
I'm not sure the question you are asking is the one you really want answered. It doesn't really matter if the seller of the house you want to buy is perceived to be greedy or not. Sellers who purchased the house couple of years ago may be hurt by the fact they paid more for the house than it is worth now, others may have had some financial difficulties and forced to sell at the highest possible price to stay afloat. What really matters is why you could not complete the negotiating process successfully? Did you have a competent realtor helping you find and buy the property? Did you try to negotiate yourself? Somebody bought those properties you could not, so it isn't all about sellers greed it is more about why are you buying and how.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
Good question The_Bayou,

Everyone wants to sell their home - sooner or later ...

Some of it is greed, some of it is just plain ego, but most of it is misinformation - very bad misinformation and that makes for very bad decisions ... combine all 3 of those and you'll have a house sitting party - and it will sit and sit and sit ...

>>> "I made an immediate counter offer but was told by the seller's agent thought I was pressuring the owner to sell."

Think about it .. most consumers buy and sell every 12 or 15 years whether they need it or not, so they get with a listing agent ... most (not all) agents will take the listing still knowing the home needs paint, a new kitchen and the dark blue carpeting on the floors went dead 7 years ago .. plus the property is probably overpriced 10%+ over the nicest comp in the area ..

The advantage to the agent is they can hopefully depend on the other 3,122 agents in the area to make the sale ... advantage to the seller - zero.

The issue becomes - most agents don't school their clients properly .. they get into the head bobbing mode and 3 months later the seller is looking for another agent ...

If they would have been upfront with the seller before and had actually *walked* the seller through 5 or 6 comps in the neighborhood, you wouldn't be having this question .. because sellers would actually see, touch and smell their competition instead of some hieroglyphics on a spreadsheet ... and if the potential seller becomes mindless --- don't take the listing, simple ...

As time goes by, the seller will drop their pricing, but this should have been explained, done and handled 3 or 4 months before by *their realltor*.

The issue still at hand is all that misinformation that consumers have to waddle and pick through, no wonder bad decisions are made everyday while their agent is still in another head bobbing mode.

This is from a friend up north that sat and watched it:

This coming from an area where 232 days is common in the very best of neighborhoods, and home prices have dropped 15%+ ... where did they ever get these figures from.? Trulia doesn't see those figures ... the bad part, all those home sellers that watched it - will believe it .. thats going to be one tough spring market - very sad.

: ^(
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
In this market, in the areas you are referencing, a bird in the hand is worth 10 in the bush!!! Local real world example: I negotiated like hell with some buyers recently, got them up to a certain level and tried to get my sellers to accept what they considered a "low ball" offer several weeks ago and they did not. Guess what? We are now listed BELOW what that offer was!

Full price offers from extremely qualified buyers (super pre-approved, no contingency on selling their place, standard, or less, inspection contingencies, minimal financing contingencies, etc...) are worth their weight in gold these days around here. Keep your ducks in a row and keep looking at properties. One of these times it will pop for you....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
as a seller...i don't call it greedy when i sold for over my asking price, but 40k less than my identical neighbor did the very same week, 100k less than my house was worth just 6 months ago, and 50k less than appraisal. the buyers already got a killer deal, if they want something fixed, they can take all that money they saved and do it themselves. me? ...i'll be busy paying your realtor, my realtor, and all the inspectors and i'll be lucky to walk away with enough money to move. if a buyer is looking to lowball someone, you gotta stick to the homebuilders.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
The answer to your question depends on the situation. The market in the state that it is in is causing a lot of weird situations out there. Buyers feel like they aren't finding the homes that they want, and sellers are feeling like people are forcing them to sell at drastically low prices. Unfortunatly it is just a difficult time to buy and sell a home. Our hope is that everyone is fair (realtors included) and that everyone wins in the end. It is a bummer that you have had a bad experience, but my recommendation would be to hire a buyers agent who would give you advice with each specific home that you want to make an offer on. They will tell you when it is best to go over asking, and when it is best to wait and let things smooth themselves out. Hope that helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
One of the most difficult things about this business is that we are dealing with all new players every time we enter into a new transaction. In other business, you may have a vendor or a client that you get to know the way they react to a negotiation. A good broker can use his or her vast experience to try to make the best educated decision on how to advise a client in the negation process. Hopefully things work out well more often than not. You never know which buyer will be the best candidate. All you can do is use your knowledge and intuition. It sounds like the sellers brokers should have chosen you, but for some reason they did not. Do you have a good buyers broker? If so, why aren't they selling you better to the listing broker? Are you really presenting yourself in the best light that you can? Sometimes it is small things that can mean a lot to a seller. Not always your offer price. Also, If you are serious about buying, you may need to accept that some sellers are not willing to fix a long list of items after inspection. Best of luck to you on your search. Don't give up. It will happen!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2012
I guess I would play devil's advocate to your inspections outcomes - if the concessions you refer to were just minor, you had the opportunity (as well as the seller) to just absorb them. The seller chose not to and YOU chose not to. Sometimes emotion comes into play and buyers can sometimes alienate a seller to the point where they are willing to lose a buyer regardless of how small the item may be. And some sellers (as you've experienced) will even move on and sell at an even lower price than another buyer was offering. The entire process can be fraught with hard feelings when working with some personalities. I advise my buyers always to stay on a sellers good side simply because you get MUCH more when you appear to be giving them their way. Holding out for an inspection item because they think they have the upper-hand in this market can bite them. There probably isn't a worse thing a buyer could do than alienate the seller of the home they truly want. No one is right in these situations. I don't think it is greed on the sellers part any more than it is on the buyers part.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 8, 2011
Great question!

I think in many markets, we have reached a point where homeowners that don't need to sell are going to hold firm, or keep their properties, rather than sell for less.

This could be the start of a standoff, since most prospective buyers still think values will go further down.

It will be interesting to see what happens!
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 2, 2011
I am not sure if you are competing on REO (BankOwned) properties or traditional (Seller Owned) properties?

It is not uncommon to get into bidding wars on BankOwned properties or traditional Seller owned properties that are priced well. This unfortunately has become the status for many parts of the country with inventorys that are lower than usual due to shadow properties (foreclosed properties yet to be listed.)

When inventory goes down there tends to creat competition for the ones that are good properties (and sometimes even dog properties where investors get into bidding wars.)

All I can say is that you have to go with the market conditions for your area. If your area is having bidding wars over properties then you have to decide if you want to get involved or wait until there is more inventory and less bidding war. With Spring/Summer coming inventory in most areas is expected to grow and you may have less of an issue.

Best of Luck,
Tammy Deitz
RE/MAX 100
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 2, 2011
Below are a few items to consider moving forward.

1. The home buying process can be very frustrating. Several sellers have been beat up on price over the last couple of years, because of the constant barrage of media that embellishes the state of the housing market. Therefore, many sellers are receiving low ball offers. Remember, real estate is local and not all real estate markets have seen the same declines. Markets like Newton, Weston, Lexington and other metrowest markets that have great schools have more stable prices.

2. Sellers may be underwater and trying to get their “perceived” value of the home, rather than what the market will bear. It may not be the agents fault, but rather the seller does not understand the current market value of their home. Although, the blame could be placed on the real estate representing the seller. One possible scenario, the seller’s agent may have convinced the seller that they could sell their home above market during the initial interview. Some agents make this mistake, so they can beat out the other real estate agents that want to list the home for sale.

3. You mentioned that you are looking at the following markets: Watertown, Auburndale in Newton, Arlington Heights, and Warrendale in Waltham. As you may already know, these markets have remained relatively strong during the downturn. You can visit my site to see the latest sales in Waltham:…

4. Don’t give up and stay positive—you will find a home. In this market, keep your eye on the ball and you will eventually hit a home run. This is a buyers market, but the caveat is that we are in a volatile market. Here is a link to my website with an article about 8 Things to Consider Before Making an Offer:…

Best of luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 2, 2011
I know the sellers I have been working with want to sell their home. What I have seen in the past few years is buyers maybe pushing the envelope a bit. A home may have had multiple price reductions and then the buyer makes an offer on a house offering $25,000- $35,000 less then asking price because "its a buyers Market"
I'm not sure if you have had a buyers agent behind if you did they would be able to explain to you the history of the house and what the realistic value is of the home. What is it worth. Everyone wants a deal but there are homes that are priced to sell. Forget trying to take advantage of the market and the seller. Its usually comes down to making a fair deal with both parties.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 23, 2011
I agree! We are trying to find my older mother a 55+ condo around the area and have had buyer accept and then "back out". Everyone is taking a bath on pricing, but when they turnaround and buy, they also are getting a good deal. I don't get's only going to get worse. REALTORS please talk some sense into you clients about the reality. THOSE OF us who qualify for mortages and fewer and fewer....if they want to sell they better rethink quickly.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
Regarding the inspection, where I am we tell buyers to take a good look at the property before they make an offer and take into account all the updating or repairs that they can see need to be done. We explain that the engineer inspection is not an opportunity to renegotiate your offer. As long as the houses had heating systems that worked, electrical systems that were in good condition, and no water problems, the house is as is and not expected to be as if it were brand new. I've rarely had a seller go for any further discount unless there were some major problem with one of the utilities. I've had sellers take lower offers because they felt they'd already negotiated and now the buyer was asking for more.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
With the prices pushing sellers to lower and lower asking prices Sellers often feel they are as low as they are willing to go. Some sellers just dont understand or arent trained by the agent to expect a lower price than what the home is listed for. It is also important to have an agetn working with you who has good negotiating skills. These skills are to be agressive but respectful and complimentary to the property while they negotiate. A seller is more willing to lower the price if they feel the buyer will love the house as much as they have!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
What area are you looking for a home? There are some many foreclosures / bank owned/ short sales. Now is the time to buy. The sellers who are trying to sell to move out of state or buy another home are having a tough time with getting their price due to the bank owned and short sales. If you want to talk or more information please contact us so that we can help you purcahse a home soon.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
My point is that if you've been having issues with all the properties you've put in offer on, then the properties must have a commonality. It sounds like they all have the same strategy going in, price it well, get multiple offers. There's a good chance that these properties are taking this strategy because they want to maintain leverage if something is wrong or goes wrong at home inspection. Perhaps they are standing firm because they know something is wrong with the property. And this is the reason that your offers are higher than actual selling price.... they've all been renegotiated after the home inspection. Which if you had the best bid, you would end up doing too....

I've never had that many offers not accepted for one buyer ever.... especially with offers so close to asking.

You're attracted to these properties because they're appealing. But when a seller knows their property is appealing for one reason or another, of course they're going to be less flexible.

Find the seller who's property has been on the market for 90 days, who can't figure out why their property ISN'T appealing... you'll find them much more flexible.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008

I know you think that I am looking for the perfect property at the perfect price, but the issue here is that in most cases the price I offered was more than what the house eventually sold for. So, if anything, I am valuing these homes too high.

The areas I have been looking are: Watertown, Auburndale in Newton, Arlington Heights, and Warrendale in Waltham.

I have been working with a buyers Realtor.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
My first question is are you working with a buyers agent?

I have been in mortgage lending since 1992 and I can tell you that I have seen just about everything and a good realtor can make all the difference in the world. It is not unusual when a listing agent/seller receive several offers on a property that they ask for final and best offer from those that made an offer. Did you have your agent re submit your original offer as final and best or did you not submit a bid. I don't get why the counter would have been an issue.

The 2 homes that went to inspection and you walked away from I am sure at the time of your offers the sellers felt that they could get what they wanted for the property without making any concessions. Hindsight is 20/20. If they knew then what they know know they probably would have accepted your offers and made the concessions.

The key is to work with a realtor that is an experienced negoatiator. Their ability to negotiate on your behalf can be the difference in having an offer accepted or not. I have had many situation that realtors that do not have the highest offer have been able to win the bidding war because they are better at negotiating than the other realtors involved.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
Sellers can only afford to be greedy if they are in an upscale market and they have a very desireable property.
Assuming you are looking in the Newton area, I would say this may often apply.
In general though I'd say most sellers are having to concede to the fact this is a soft market and only very realistic pricing will net them a sale.
A realtor must present any bonafide offer to their seller. The seller decides whether to accept or decline, not the realtor. You can always submit a second offer. Often sellers will test the waters and hold out for 6 weeks or so to see if they can get their price---then they will weigh the feedback from the marketplace an go from there.
With regard to concessions, many sellers are loathe to grant them as they feel they are already taking a beating on price; and this is their perogative.
You can always speak to the seller personally and emphasize your interest in the property .
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
There's a fine line between greedy and hopeful.....

It sounds like you've come across people who want to sell but don't have to. It's tough to get a good price from people that don't HAVE to sell. Asking for a second round of bidding isn't necessarily greedy if they have two identical offers... It's that agents job to get as much money as possible for the seller, you can't get mad at someone for doing their job....

It's simply negotiation, watertown isn't exactly suffering from the mortgage crunch. If the sellers can afford to wait out the market, they have every right to, whether it makes you happy or not.

It sounds like you've been spending a year waiting for that perfect property at the perfect price to pop up. The bad news is, there are other's like you, with the exact same thought. So when you finally found that place... 5 others have too, and all of the sudden you've lost all and any negotiation leverage in the deal, and you're not willing to put up with it.

So here's a crazy thought, instead of waiting for that perfect deal, like everyone else is, find a good buyers agent, and go make a deal happen on one of the properties that might be a little overpriced... At least you'll have less competition and thus more leverage when negotiating...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
Just looking in Newton,
Although I am not familiar with your local real estate market, what you have discovered is that all real estate markets are local. Even though there are many areas in the country where the bottom is dropping out of the market, that may not be true in your area. So, assuming that your's is still a "seller's market", you are experiencing the meaning of that: sellers are not very negotiable on their prices. That does not mean that they are greedy (although that may be a part of it), that mainly means they are responding to market place.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
Sorry, I meant to say the the seller got greedy, not the buyer's Realtor.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
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