Sadly these days America is scandal central. It's hard to read through a publication such as The Wall Street Journal, or the average local paper for that matter, for even one day without coming across a story about how some other fund, fund manager, investment adviser, development group, builder, contractor or other assorted cretins have absconded with a large sum of money leaving untold victims in their wake. The dollar total alone is staggering but the human cost is immeasurable.
In this market we've had several large developers go under, leaving piles of liens and unpaid loans in their wake. Several took out development loans or received money from homeowners or services from contractors and simply walked away with the cash, forget the pretense of business expenses. To me there is a crisis of conscience here. It seems like some well placed folks lost theirs or just plain never had one.
I list a lot of property and therefore meet a lot of sellers. Many are very beaten down. They might have lost jobs, spouses or suffered a demotion or transfer. I can almost script their disappointment when I tell them what their home is worth now. This economic crisis appears to be falling particularly heavily on the shoulders of the American homeowner. This shell shocked soldier of the new American economy has no foxhole to duck into, unlike those at the top who jet off to count their cash in Barbados, the Caymans or Switzerland. These people are stuck and don't think it's right to just burn their house down and run away.
The temptation is always there for the listing agent to look at older comps and try to figure out the best pitch to get the listing. In an unstable market where little is selling, doing good CMAs can require as much work time as I used to spend when I was a rookie because you look so hard at the very few comps, or go farther afield to find any sales. In this market however I've found that rosy prognostications should be discarded and clients need to be given the realities:
1.) You're not selling against your neighbors, you're selling against the banks, or asset liquidators for failed banks 2.) Prices are not stable 3.) Sellers must market condition their homes 4.) You may need to take a loss to sell even though you've been in the home ten years in some cases. 5.) Your home might not sell anyway.
I don't list foreclosures so I'm feeling the pain of the resale homeowner. Retail product has to fight fiercely against distressed sales and often loses anyway. Buyers have been militantly conditioned by the media and our industry to adopt a take no prisoners approach. In the midst of all this we need to try to make a living, be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and serve our clients well.