If you’re like most real estate buyers the first (or at least second) thing you want to know about a property will be the price. For years we’ve heard buyers’ frustrations with not knowing whether the home is anywhere near their budget and the feeling that some agents take you for a fool. As far back as the mid-1990’s we saw a USA home buyer survey that reported more than 2-thirds would not respond to an ad that didn’t have a price. And last year www.realestate.com.au surveyed 1000 Aussie buyers – and a whopping 92% said they would be unlikely to enquire about a property with no price indication.
So why do agents persist in leaving the price off ads? There’s always been auctions with no prices, then there were price ranges (some agents had colour coded bars and all sorts of confusing clues), but now, with perhaps more insult to buyers’ collective intelligence, there’s the “offers over” line. Becoming increasingly common in Brisbane ‘s inner suburbs this often sees a home worth $800,000 being promoted as “offers over $725,000”. And here’s why it happens: some agents are scared to tell their sellers the truth. Rather than advise what their research shows (e.g. “recent sales and current competition suggest your home’s worth approx $800,000”), a lazy agent can duck the issue and throw it to the market without a firm price.
They also avoid losing the job to another agent who buys the listing by telling the seller “$875,000 will be no worries mate”. Agents can justify the “offers over” spiel by saying it “feeds the greed” and captures maximum interest from buyers. But surely it also wastes a lot of people’s time.
We listed a house in Annerley last week and there was a collective sigh from buyers who responded to the ads, pleased that they knew the price and, while it was priced high to test the market, we sold it in the first week for very close to list price. Sellers delighted, buyers contented and no-one misled at any stage.
Here’s a recent horror story of one agent: having listed a home for “offers over $520,000” she sold it for $572,000, telling the buyer she couldn’t accept an offer for any more than that. Why? She’d been told that if a home sold for more than 10% over her advertised price she might be accused of misrepresentation or bait advertising! Sad ending to the story is that home may well be worth $600,000.
Auctions certainly have their place (not nearly as often as some agents use them in our opinion) and good promotion should always focus on getting a quicker sale at the best possible price for the seller. But some agents would do well to consider that buyers are informed and have little time for games and deception.