Is it possible to find a great deal in the current market? You better believe it is. While the lemmings all wait breathlessly for the other financial shoe to drop, opportunity has been quietly and steadily knocking since mid-summer.
Unlike other corrections, where some kind of notable event or calamity precipitated the discounting, this market has been more like your big-boned Uncle Morty relaxing on a floating pool raft with a pinhole in it. So while the signposts of this kind of gradual market softening have been much more subtle, they’re definitely there.
Here are the top five signs you may be able to get a deal in your market:
1. Ad changes
When the language in the broker’s advertising copy changes. Look for red flags like “Bring all offers!!” or “Seller says sell!!” Frankly, it’s a big tip off as soon as you see agents laying the exclamation points on thick.
2. Days on market
Look for when the days on market meter on a home starts ticking up, up, up. Keep your eyes trained for places logging triple-digit days and go in with offers blazing. Don’t assume there’s something wrong with a place because it’s lingering. Sometimes it’s just the wrong price. So be the change you want to see.
3. Free gifts
When real estate developers start offering free stuff. It might start with a catered open house, but if things start getting painful, watch out for more substantive signs.
Fact: Developers don’t offer iPads or vespas or a year of common charges prepaid for free when markets are sizzling.
4. Less foot traffic
If the timing is right, property can get the holiday blues too. With the oncoming bottleneck of the holiday season, foot traffic in listings historically tails off. Properties that linger in the sharp chill of a gray December will be forced to think about whether they want to continue to fight the good fight. You want to be first in line when that feeling happens.
5. Even low-ballers welcome
Find a severe pricing outlier in the luxury sector. You know, the home priced head and shoulders over all the other comps? That one. And it may very well be a great property, but all the buyers can sense the seller’s hubris from 20 blocks away.
But don’t be deterred, be compelled! It’s not rude in a market like this, it’s good business. Toss a low one out there, but be prepared to wait it out. Your odds of success increase particularly if there’s a seasoned selling agent on the other side of the deal.
We’ve had buyers chisel 20 percent or more off the list on a few stratospheric properties by being very qualified, and frankly, by being very patient. At some point, that low-ball starts to look good.
This may feel aggressive, but know that sellers all over the country have largely enjoyed an unprecedented 10-year bull run-up in pricing, and as a result, many can still afford to sell below asking and make a tidy profit — especially if they’re buying into this same saggy Uncle Morty market. The same factors that ding them on the way out give them a leg up when they get back in.
There will be point, however, when we hit the pricing floor and sellers finally say forget it, and they’ll opt to wait things out from the sidelines. And when that happens, pricing will level off and things will begin to tighten once again.
This is not prophesy; this is just cyclical behavior at work. And that’s what makes markets tick. So get out there, and make it happen!