House For Sale...someday

So we finally had an offer on the house. Yay. It was a terrible, insulting offer. Boo. My dad always said never negotiate without knowing who is on the other side of the table, and what their weaknesses are. More importantly, what their strengths are. I have always followed his advice. My job provides me with opportunities to negotiate almost daily. With some pretty financially savvy people. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I always do my homework. And I always negotiate in good faith.

Our buyers did not. There is much to be learned from a real estate offer, and the agent. A few key questions, a few bits of information, and a picture develops. History is important too.

On Monday, the phone rang and a familiar voice left a message, as I couldn't get to it. "We'll be there in 15 minutes" he said. "The same folks I've brought over 2 or 3 times before." Instantly I knew. It was our Labor Day house crashers. Invaded our home on a Holiday as we prepped for the annual festivities. Worse, after this, their second visit, they gave us feedback.

"The yard is too small, there is no privacy and it's waaay overpriced," they had said. "We just came back to confirm that." You invaded our holiday to confirm that you DIDN'T want our house? OK, fine. Hubby was ticked. "That's it," he said. "Even if they come back and make an offer, they can't have it."

Prophetic words. They came back. And Tuesday, we had an offer. And it was insulting. Hubby said "just turn it down." I wasn't sure. I said let's think about this. "They just want the best deal they can get, and probably want us to meet them half away." So we met with the broker and went through all the details we had. Built a picture of this couple. Husband has phd and being transferred here, job already started, hasn't moved his family down. His wife had been with him initially, so she has seen our house. But she was back home, where ever that is, and is letting him handle it all. Strike one. He has prequalified for FAR more than he offered, and has plenty for the down payment. So money is not the issue. So why so low on the offer? We can only determine that he has heard what a depressed market it is and since he's already laid the groundwork for not buying our home, he thinks he's giving himself the position of strength in negotiations. He doesn't really want it that bad. It's overpriced. The Yard is too small. No privacy. He can pretty much call the shots. I'm thinking he's being a tad too smug. Ummm. No. Strike two.

"Did our yard grow?" asked Doug. "No," I replied. "Did all the neighbors move their houses another 20 yards away?" he asked. Again I replied, "no."

It goes back to knowing who you are dealing with. Had the buyer done his homework, he would have learned that the Sellers, in this case, me and hubby, were not desperate. We had no timeline to move. We have no financial motivation. No pressure. You might wonder why on earth we would be listing a house in this market if we didn't have to. Well, we were hoping to move back East, and thought the market seemed to be bottoming out.

Now, had our House Crashers known that, they might have saved all of us a lot of grief. But we figured we would give them a chance. They needed the house, and we did have it for sale. At what we determined very carefully was a fair price, one that would appraise out. So we countered. A good offer too. I'd done my homework and looked at all the recent sales and comps.  Left enough wiggle room for them to counter back even. And they did. And it was such a puny counter, that we almost just said no. But our broker said "look. You know how low you are willing to go at this point. Let's see if they take it and counter once more. So we did, but we knew they wouldn't do it. We thought they'd come back with another .00000001% increase. Nope. They countered by sending back the previous counter with the words "final offer."

This is where my stubborness kicks in. Big time. Don't ever say "final offer" to me. Because as hubby said, "Game over." While tempted, we didn't write that on the offer, instead we politely wrote REJECTED in big letters and signed it and sent it back. We weren't upset. Nor worried about getting another offer. We were happy. Because in defense of all Sellers in this market, we were able to say Enough! The market can't recover as long as buyers are driving prices down below even replacement value. I love to be on the buying end of a good deal, but not when it will bring my future home's value down, as well as the entire neighborhood. So if you are in the market for a home, and think if you can bargain it down to an absurdly low price, and wait a few years and have tons of equity, think again. Unless you want to Flip it. That's a whole different ball game. Our house is not a candidate for renovation or updates. It's still new.

Look fair is fair. Determining a home's value is never easy, but it isn't rocket science. The idea that a home's market value is what a buyer will pay is only half the story. It's what other buyers will pay as well. The Market. Right now neighborhoods are not seeing rebounds, nor will they at this pace. Every time another home gets dumped, foreclosed, short sold, is another dip in the value. Until your neighbors begin neglecting the upkeep since what's the point. Fences don't get repaired. Shingles aren't replaced. Cracked walkways and driveways are the norm. All I am saying is if you take advantage of a seller's distress, you will cause a ripple effect. So bully for you, you got a deal. And took a neighborhood down in the process.

I won't be a part of that. We have the luxury of being able to say no. And we did. And we feel good about it. Our obstinate buyers are out there now, I'm sure, revisiting all those houses they didn't want trying to figure out how much they can steal them for. For every action there is a reaction. Think twice before you cause it. Some will say I am foolish. I should take whatever I can get because who knows when another buyer will come along. I say I could sell tomorrow for less than what our house crashers offered. If the right buyer made the offer. So bottom line. Getting a great deal on a home is a wonderful thing, as long as the seller is offering it. But taking advantage of tragic situations to get yourself a bargain is nothing to be proud of. Ask yourself this. Are you a Bailey or a Potter? I'm a Bailey. And damn proud of it.

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