Real estate takes center stage in conversations across all circles as we navigate market uncertainty. My advice is straightforward: Amid unprecedented conditions, opportunities exist, albeit not for the faint of heart.
Mastery of market fundamentals and the tools of our trade are as essential as creating brand-new paths to successful transactions; there is no room for missteps.
Recently, I encountered a unique challenge with a four-bed listing — a beautifully renovated apartment in one of the best buildings on the Upper West Side. It wowed everyone who walked in, yet was consistently deemed too small by potential buyers.
In a market where tight supply often meets discerning demand, I found a way to successfully secure a deal at the full asking price of $5.1 million with multiple backup offers.
Here’s how I did it and how I approach all my work with buyers and sellers in today’s market.
1. Price it right: Get your seller’s finger on the market pulse
It was crucial that my seasoned seller fully understood the current state of the market and, even more importantly, its trajectory.
This was done in our initial conversation about pricing when I first provided comps and data and in the weeks leading up to listing it on the market.
Until our launch, I continuously provided real-time data about similar listings that had just gone up for sale. These reports included the number of saves online in the first 24 hours, those that had undergone a price reduction, gone into contract and sales that closed with discount percentages on final sales prices.
By the time we listed, my client both understood the data and could feel the unusual rhythm of this year’s market. He agreed to list the unit for less than his initial preference, as I utilized real-time data to align his expectations.
2. Get outside the box: Adapt with unexpected expectations
After putting the listing on the market, I was faced with the challenge of consistently getting the same feedback, “They absolutely loved it, but it’s just too small for them.”
We were aware that we were on the smaller side for a four-bedroom, but we also knew we were the only newly renovated unit with views of Central Park currently on the market.
At our price, we were up against much larger units that needed work and didn’t have views, but we were finding the current four-bed buyers would prefer to keep looking rather than buy either type currently on offer.
I realized we needed to get new eyes on us by finding a different audience, so I changed the bedroom count from four beds to three beds.
Pricing is based on square footage, and I doubted anyone would complain about extra rooms. I soon had buyers coming in thrilled with the size and number of rooms; we became a three-bed with all kinds of options because, as a four-bed, we also came with a home office/flex fifth bedroom.
Within two weeks, we had multiple offers and, in the end, got the full asking price.
3. Negotiate with a ‘No’: The 4th showing rule
Mid-negotiations, one of the buyers requested a fourth showing. This buyer had already been to the apartment more times than any other buyer with an offer to us and had twice spent an hour there with measuring tape in hand.
A long-time top agent and dear friend once advised me never to agree to a fourth showing, as it is often the kiss of death.
With my seller’s permission, I told the agent my seller had said “No” to another showing until and unless we came to an agreement. This sent the message that the other buyers were so ready and willing that we had the confidence to say no to their request to see it again. That buyer’s agent was not happy, but sure enough, her buyer came up to our full asking price.
4. Never know it all: Look to mentors and managers
The strength of your network can be a game-changer. Don’t hesitate to tap into the wisdom of seasoned mentors within your professional circle. I am fortunate to have a wide range of experts in the real estate space who I never hesitate to contact with questions or for advice.
Their insights (like the Fourth Showing Rule) and experiences can provide invaluable guidance, and it always helps to get someone’s perspective who has no skin in the game. A great manager can also be a priceless resource and advisor.
My manager knows how I work and my relationships with my clients. He always takes these things into account when advising. But, most importantly, he tells me when I’m wrong and reminds me to maintain my sense of humor.
5. Don’t count your chickens: Maintain momentum and nurture backups
Throughout negotiations, I communicated consistently with all the agents who had submitted offers.
If my seller took a long time to respond, I would provide updates to maintain a sense of momentum. Providing a non-update update is better than complete silence and helps sustain goodwill.
It gives the agents something to relay to their buyers and helps manage everyone’s expectations and emotions. Once we accepted an offer, I updated the backup buyer’s agent, whether it was going well or looking shaky. (We had lots of both). If my current deal fell apart, I aimed to keep the backup buyers engaged.
Being in close contact with the backup agent also gave me insight into their mindset and willingness to move forward. I then had the confidence to advise my seller to provide the current buyer with a rigid deadline when it appeared they were stalling.
My seller loved the feeling of having some leverage in a market where it had felt like we’d only had a little up to that point.
In today’s dynamic and rarely predictable real estate market, adaptability, creativity, a trusted network and consistent communication are the keys to handing those house keys to the next proud owner, even in the face of challenging conditions and perceptions.
It’s markets like these that make us all better agents, so let’s rise to the occasion. Here’s to getting to the other side.
Tamer Howard is a Manhattan real estate agent with The Corcoran Group. Connect with her on LinkedIn.