Sarasota Housing Market: Behold the "Three-Buyer" Rule


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The buyer, appraiser and underwriter must all agree with the price of the house before it can go to settlement (particularly if there is no large down payment involved. ) Here's how it happens.

Buyer is First

When you visit the grocery store and examine the prices of produce and goods, you normally do not walk up to the check out and bargain the price listed on the sticker. The eggs are $1 per dozen all day long and most everyone will pay that amount or go without eggs.

In real estate (and other large investment items), the price is not necessarily what one is going to pay. It is merely the list price or asking price set by the seller. While Sarasota real estate agents may have some sort of control in determining if a house is overpriced or under-priced, they are not the ones buying the house. Hence, the real decision maker is the buyer. Thus, the buyers must be confident enough that the asking price and the terms almost certainly reflect the real market value of the house.

The savvy real estate seller will make sure that the asking price is as close to the realistic price in order to draw offers. Particularly, in a transitional market or dropping sales price environment, such as the Sarasota housing market at present, do not squander time holding off for the “right” buyer to come along and pay the price being asked for. The smart real estate seller will realize what the price trend is and move in front of it.

Sellers over the last few years in the Sarasota housing market have had the benefit of price trending upward. Negotiation for buyers seemingly went up on its head—"You want $350,000. What, are you crazy? I'll pay $375,000 and not a dollar less. " Of course, they got beat out by the guy willing to pay $400,000 and include a vacation for the sellers.

When the Sarasota housing market begins to trend downward, a seller must get at the forefront of the trend. This is even more important than a market heading upward if you do not want your house floating on the market over a long waiting period. Every week you wait, you literally lose money, which sometimes could be thousands of dollars each week. Do not wait. When prices trend downward, sellers must forget what their neighbor's sales price was two months ago. It certainly has no bearing the day you receive your contract.

The moral here for the seller is that the buyer must believe the house is worth the asking price. Next, one has to convince the appraiser.

Appraiser is Second

Despite what others may believe, the appraiser is the most important visitor who is going come by your house. Sometimes even the appraiser understates his or her visit to the property.

If you have to impress the buyer to persuade him or her to write a contract, then you better mesmerize the appraiser. This is the person who is going to take a first stab in confirming that the buyer and seller have come up with a realistic price for the property.

With a contract price of $351,990, you want an appraisal of at least $351,990. If the appraisal is high, it has no bearing on the contract. If the price comes too far below, and the buyer does not possess enough down payment funds to cover the difference, then the seller and buyer will have to renegotiate who is going to absorb the financial hit to make the loan work. Is the seller coming down in price, the buyer up in price or are they going to split the difference?

Underwriter is Third

Finally, one has to satisfy the person in the back office—the underwriter of the mortgage. Underwriters calculate the risk factors for the lending company or group of investors. If they underestimate the risk of default on a loan and the buyer indeed defaults on the mortgage in time, then either their investors lose or they must sell the loan at a loss. Because of this, while they are not on the street monitoring if prices increase in the Sarasota housing market and if their analysis reveals that the house may not be worth what the contract is asking, they can withhold the loan process and the negotiations must start anew.

Let’s say I want to sell my house for $1 million. The problem is, while I might think it is worth that amount, I keep running into buyers who disagree. Thus it is worth $1 million solely in my perception.

I therefore have to satisfy three other people to get my price. In pricing my property, I must keep these three other people in mind if I want my “asking” price to become my “sold” price.

Earl Juanico

Sarasota Real Estate


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