Housing markets characterized by 'egotistical' prices, gun-shy buyers

Inman News

This post -- the first of what will be a regular series -- is based on an email response from real estate agent Mary Giroux to this week's "Taking Inventory" Facebook post. Every week, Inman News invites readers to share thoughts and insights about the real estate sector. Your input helps Inman News shed light on the latest issues and trends that are redefining the industry.

Today's housing market is a weird animal.

Consumers traumatized by the housing crisis are treading with caution as they wade into a market that, to many observers, is still brimming with once-in-a-lifetime deals. At the same time, many sellers are seeking to capitalize on the inventory shortage, pricing their homes unreasonably high, in the opinion of some agents.  

The tendency is so strong that some sellers are listing their homes at prices one agent has described as outright "egotistical." 

Perhaps that isn't so surprising. People who saw their home values plummet during housing bust are probably more than eager to demand a price that pushes the limits of fair value -- and recoup some of the wealth that they lost.    

But the specter of the housing crisis is also sharp in buyers' minds. Once lured by the promise of a "buyer's market," many are now finding themselves locked in bidding wars.

In a testament to this phenomenon, Trulia recently conducted a "regrets survey," touting the results as relevant because the inventory shortage is sure to push many buyers to make purchases that they will later regret.  

But to many agents' disappointment, the hustle is making other buyers gun-shy.    

"Inventory is low, I should charge more," said Wilmington, Mass.-based agent Mary Giroux of sellers' rationale.

But Giroux said buyers often have a different view: "Your house is not worth what you want to charge."

"The buyer has learned through the recent real estate crash not to overpay for a house," she said.

Compounding frustrations for some agents, Giroux said many clients sometimes shun their advice, turning instead to websites they believe will guide them to make the right decisions.

"Today's buyers are adamant about not overpaying for a house. They are fierce negotiators and have all of the data and information at their fingertips," Giroux said. "They have forgotten about supply and demand. They all think they know better than their agent and the sellers agent. After all, they can find all this information on the Internet."

With luck, the cautious buyer and confident seller negotiate a price. But buyers and sellers aren't the only ones still haunted by the housing crisis.  

"So the offer gets negotiated, the offer gets accepted, the appraiser comes out, and the appraisal comes in low. We go back to negotiations," Giroux said.

She added: "You see, the market has gotten better but we are still earning every nickel we get as we navigate through a whole new set of issues."

Are you experiencing the same sort of market conditions as Giroux, or are you seeing different dynamics in play? Share your thoughts below. 

Connect with people mentioned in this story: Mary Giroux (@marygirouxremax)

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