Summer Fun: Fishing for Home Buyers in Phoenix Real Estate

We’re one week deep into summer vacation and the inevitable refrain “Dad, I’m bored” is starting to rear its ugly head. How I managed to survive with a mere Atari 2600, pre-basic cable and (horror of horrors) books when my children can’t make things work with an XBOX 360, PS2, Wii, full satellite, DVDs, beagles and … yes, even now (until I get my Kindle) books … is beyond me.

(There’s part of me that really wants a Kindle because it looks cool. There’s another part of me that doesn’t much like the idea of reading a book without holding something substantial, turning pages, flipping pages to see how many more are in this chapter, etc. … but I digress.)

When all else failed, at least through my early teens, I grabbed a fishing pole and rode my bike down to the Dobson Ranch golf course in search of catfish. You had to cast off from the golf course side – the fish stayed away from the park on the south side of the lake – and somehow I never was kicked off the course by one of the rangers. Not sure how that happened.

There also were bass in the lake but they really were a pain in the ass. You could have the most beautiful bass lure on earth, a juicy worm, the perfect prepacked bait from Yellow Front (how old am I?) and the damn bass wouldn’t even sniff at it. I could be giving them too much credit, but the bass seemed smart enough to see through all of your tricks … the expensive and flashy lures and bait and such … unless they were in the mood to strike and unless you had found exactly the bait they wanted, you were out of luck.

Reminds me of a few home buyers I know.

Catfish were a decidedly different story. Forget going for all the shiny bling, get yourself some beef liver, let it percolate in the 100-degree sun for a little while, cast the line and wait.

You see, the catfish weren’t much impressed by anything beyond the bottom line – they were hungry, and if you put a morsel at their level were they could suck it up with a minimum of trouble, they’d bite. (They also might find a few tree branches to swim through as you try to reel them in but that’s another story.)

Most buyers in the Phoenix real estate market are the same way – price a house at their level and they’ll snap at it. Now, it needs to be something palatable – just like the catfish weren’t going to bite at a rock at the end of the line (or maybe they would, who knows) a buyer isn’t going to purchase just anything just because of the price. But at the end of the day the price is going to determine whether the buyer looks at the line or keeps swimming past until he finds what he wants at his level.

We as real estate agents spend a lot of time making marketing seem far more complicated than that but often the marketing is akin to the fancy, shiny bass lure that the fish don’t care about because it’s too high in the water and too close to the summer sun for their taste. And while there’s more that goes into marketing than setting the price, a good price will trump mediocre marketing any day of the week.

Take this casita I had listed in Westbrook Village. When the listing expired, we had the casita listed at what the seller said was her firm price. We’ll call it “x”. Two days later the property was back on the market with another agent at x minus $15,000.

Not hard to see what was going to happen, is it?

The new MLS description said virtually nothing about the house, the photos were equivalent, there was no fancy single-property website put together as I’d done … essentially, the new agent (with the seller’s help) eschewed the shiny lure in favor of the beef liver and dropped the line lower into the water to where the catfish were hungry.

Three weeks later, bingo. It was inevitable.

And so it goes … in the interim, I’ve got a handful of other listings in the water (not to mention one right on the water in Arrowhead Lakes) and a lake full of buyers looking for the right bargain to snap up. It’s summer time and the time for fishing here in the Valley seems to be about right.

Now if I only could convince the kids of this.

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