You Can’t Outrace the Sunset

avatarthumbnail.jpgLet’s start with two basic assumptions. First, that the Earth is round. Second, that the Earth spins on its axis counterclockwise causing darkness to fall upon the land in an east-to-west direction on a daily basis.

If we’re already in disagreement, it’s probably best that you stop right here.

For the rest of you who view sunset as inevitable, the basic reality is you can’t outrace the sunset. You can anticipate sunset coming and start racing to the west as fast as you can but at some point the sunset is going to catch up to you. It’s the way of the world.

Many buyers these days expect the Phoenix real estate market to decline another “x” percent. (“X” because the number varies widely depending on who you talk to.) Whether they’re right or wrong, I can’t say. I retired my crystal ball years ago when working as a stockbroker since it was right less often than the Magic 8 ball sitting next to it.

Because of this belief, many decide to fashion their purchase offers based on the decline that they’re expecting to see. They see a survey predicting an 8 percent drop, so they want to make sure their purchase is at least 8 percent below current market so they won’t be impacted by the decline.

They’re trying to outrace the sunset.

Let’s say that their offer is accepted at 8 percent current market value, seemingly giving them that buffer for the decline they see as inevitable. What is market value? Not a static figure, not by a long stretch. Market value simply is the price at which a buyer’s willing to buy and a seller’s willing to sell.

So they purchase this home for 8 percent under the previous sales and current asking prices. We’ll call this property A. When a different seller (or a lender) puts their home on the market the very next day, what are they going to use as a comparable sale? This purchase. And what will they do with their own list price in a declining market if they’re smart? List their homes at or just below the previous sale for property A.

For the sake of argument, we’ll say this new listing goes on the market at the same price at which property A sold. So rather than anticipating the decline, the offer on property A has hastened the very decline that the buyer was worried about in the first place.

This isn’t to say that a buyer shouldn’t be judicious with their offer and try to get the best deal possible. But attempting to outrun a decline you believe to be inevitable by offering that much less and speeding the process is as fruitless as trying to outrun the sun.

[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


  • Dru Bloomfield 9 years ago

    Disclaimer: One of my life dreams has been to have a party on a jet following the sunset for 24 hours.

    Jonathan, Your post mirrors what I’ve been thinking over the past several weeks. The predictions that prices are going to continue to depreciate set an expectation that isn’t necessarily based on what the current reality is for the moment, the neighborhood, or the condition of the home. Each home that gets purchased at a lesser price than the recently sold comparables, only serves to push future home price down further.

    I am so looking forward to a more balanced market, and hope that we will see it soon.

  • Nick Bastian 9 years ago

    run Forest, run! (sorry, it just came to mind)

    Well said JD… I also love the “experts” that use “X” percentage of decline for an entire region without paying much attention to the area they are looking in. As you know, some areas are more stable than others, some have held value pretty well and some probably have more to go.

    “Market value simply is the price at which a buyer’s willing to buy and a seller’s willing to sell.” –

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