Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Selling Mercer Island


Windemere mailed us their Mercer Island 2007 Year in Review (full color, glossy summary of the local housing market) which notes that median sale prices on Mercer Island increased by 12% last year, though have begun to tighten starting in August.  This morning Mercer Island Blogger has a more up-to-date summary showing how in the last 90 days we've lost 12% -- putting us back where we were a year ago.  And meanwhile, Mercer Island is winning (by a large margin) the unscientific Seattle Bubble Blog poll of which neighborhood will hold up best in a downturn.  As Windermere concludes:

Commute proximity, a strong community, and excellent local schools continue to be Mercer Island's strongest selling points.

I'm not planning to sell for a while (but go ahead, make me an offer!) but one thing I don't understand about the Northwest real estate market is the obsession with offering price.  The Windemere brochure goes to the trouble of tracking the "list to sales price ratio", which at 97%, they conclude is healthy. But who cares about the list price?  The only price that matters is the selling price.  Back in Silicon Valley, one of the most competitive markets in the world, we sold both our houses by listing them at super low-ball prices  (outrageously low-ball, like 20% lower than you'd expect) just to get people to come shopping.  In both cases we ended up with multiple offers right away -- and a great selling price thanks to the bidding war that results when shoppers who love your house suddenly realize they can pay more than they originally thought.

If you're serious about selling your house, why post it for $1.3M -- Redfin's median price for Mercer Island?  Instead, I say, stage it impeccably, post it for under $1M, get a ton of traffic from "deal seekers", and watch a flood of people outbid each other to $1.4M.  Instead of "honey, we can't afford that place so we're not even going to look at it", you get "okay, fine -- maybe we can afford it if we [borrow some money from your mother|sell some of your jewelry|get another job|etc]"

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