Of Gettysburg, Open Houses and Tax Credits

avatarthumbnail.jpgIt was considerable amazement that I was able to bond with my 12-year-old stepson the other evening. My father and I tend to talk best – that is to say, we can hold a conversation – when discussing World War II or football. (Given he and my mother watch Fox News 24/7, I avoid politics like the plague.)

I’m now finding myself having the same discussions with my son, albeit filtered through the near-ADHD prism of a 12-year-old boy. I had taped a History International show on Sherman’s march to the sea and asked if he’d like to watch it, knowing he was studying the civil war in school. Surprisingly, he said yes. Then I asked what he was studying and the answer came back “Little Top.” There was more … “you know, the bayonet charge” he said, adding most unhelpfully “they went up the hill, then down, then right.”

It took a minute or two before I realized he was describing Pickett’s Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. That he retained anything, much less more than I remember having learned about the Civil War way back when, impressed me. And it made me realize that as much as we as parents can lay the groundwork, at some point our kids have to take the reins and do the rest.

Real estate marketing tends to go the same way. Most examples of what sellers might call “aggressive marketing” are very high in action and very low in results.  My favorite still is the prospective seller who talked about an agent who held a house open every weekend for several months until the home sold, never once asking why such an “aggressive” sales technique failed weekend after weekend for months on end.

So why do agents continue to do this? Because of the expectations they build for their sellers in an effort to secure a listing. No one wants to hear that a home is going to be put in the MLS and then nothing else will be done. Yet more often than not, it is just that – an MLS listing combined with an effective price – that causes a home to sell.

All the marketing in the world can’t make up for too high of a price, but a properly priced home can sell in days if a low enough price is attached to the property.

There’s only so much we as listing agents can do to lay the groundwork. At some point, it’s up to the property and the price to sell themselves. Activity for the sake of activity is two steps past useless but it’s also a hallmark of the real estate industry.

And it’s also the primary reason we’re seeing an effort made to extend and widen the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. No one can point to the credit and say it is the specific reason why sales have improved this year; I would argue lower prices and low interest rates have had far more to do with the increase.

There definitely have been some buyers attracted by the first-time credit, but from what I have seen the impact has been minimal and the end of the credit will not have much of a detrimental effect on the market. So why continue it? Because it creates the appearance that our elected officials are being proactive in helping the housing market, even if the help is incidental at best and coincidental at worst.

At the end of the day, people will buy when they’re tired of renting and when it financially no longer makes sense to pay rent to a landlord when they can own their own home. One of my recent clients purchased a home for $75,000 and will have a mortgage payment that is lower than the monthly payment on my Town and Country. And their home’s just a bit bigger than a mini van.

When it’s cheaper to own than rent, people will own. End of story.

The rest, much like those ever-present open houses, is just so much fluff.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.


  • Portland Real Estate 8 years ago

    You make a very good point. You can dangle an $8,000 dollar carrot in front of someone, but if it is not the right time for them to buy, then it is not the right time to buy and we should not goad them into some decision that may financially ruin them later.


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