A gift horse: The home seller’s curse

Posted by on April 25th, 2017

So, you put your home up for sale, with a listing price based on local comparables.

As luck would have it, a buyer comes along within days – maybe even hours – and meets that price. Heck, maybe they even throw in an extra 2 or 3 percent for good measure.

This is probably one of those times referred to in the phrase: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” But sometimes, when everything goes right, we have trouble accepting it.

It’s a curse

The “curse of the first offer” is well-known to real estate agents who have been around for a while. The seller’s reaction to an early offer? Almost inevitable: “Maybe we should wait and see if we can get more.”

Today’s seller is probably right about one thing: There will be other offers. In marketplaces around the country, multiple-offer situations are commonplace. But assuming the next one is going to be a better one is likely to leave you disappointed, especially if your asking price is founded on solid real estate concepts.

In 99 percent of cases, a knowledgeable real estate agent knows just what the house should sell for, and works hard to set a price in that range.

Early returns

The fact an offer is received early doesn’t meant the property has been listed too low. As you are probably aware from your own buying experience, a good buyer’s agent keeps the needs and price range of his or her client in mind.

With technology, only listings which meet those criteria trigger the agent’s alerts. In a low-inventory market, buyers’ agents will log on a half-dozen times a day, or more, to see if appropriate new listings have been entered.

Getting a lot of response to your listing early on is an indication of the powerful tools that make the buying system so efficient. If anything, odds are lower there’s a better offer lurking out there after your home has been on the market – even if only for a short while.

Unintended delays

Often, ignoring a good first offer can lead to a delayed sale, and an eventual price drop. When the price drops, most buyers will begin to question if there is something fundamentally wrong with the listing.

It’s not usually a good idea to look a gift horse in the mouth. Don’t assume there will be more, let alone better, offers as the listing period progresses.