Trick or Treat?
Jury issues spooky verdict in landmark Sitzer/Burnett real estate commission trial
Do you know which homes get the most activity on Halloween? I think they fall into two categories:
Homes who look the spookiest/most welcoming to trick-or-treaters.
Homes who give away full size candy bars.
Readers, I think we just stepped into a real estate metaphor. I’ve got the glow stick, follow me.
On Halloween night of all nights, the decision came down in the Sitzer (now Burnett) class action suit, finding the defendants — the National Association of Realtors, along with four large real estate brokerages — guilty of colluding over commission rates. Unless you’re in the industry, chances are you haven’t been following this case. Even if a lengthy appeals process comes next, the jury’s verdict is a significant market disruptor that stands to change how buyers purchase properties. With seller-paid commissions in jeopardy of being phased out or re-tooled, we’re likely to see changes coming down the pike by early next year or sooner, whether that’s on a regional level or a brokerage level. New policies are likely to emerge ahead of new government regulations or laws. (If you want to nerd out on this, Notorious ROB is a must-follow. Latest analysis here).
The jury’s verdict may be the silver bullet that sends some grumpy werewolf agents and zombie brokers back home to their dens and graves for good. But for the spirit-filled Jedis, pirates and princesses of the real estate world, this just means the streets are a little less crowded.
Think about it: Halloween is one of the biggest “Coming Soon” events of the year and October 31 is the listing activation date. Homes in the same neighborhood compete for eager trick-or-treaters. Some home owners are clearly not into it and either skimp on candy or, more abruptly, keep their porch lights off.
But the best homes — the most fabulous and spooky ones — get talked up. There were several long lines at a couple houses our family visited last night. “That’s the house with the good candy,” we whispered.
From a buyer agent’s perspective, when a property hits the market, we know which homes have the “good candy” and which ones are giving out bananas and pocket-sized copies of the Constitution. Guess which homes get more attention?
I’m seeing this play out right now with a home in our area. Initially, the seller tried to sell the property himself. When that didn’t work, he hired an out-of-area agent who listed the home at a very aggressive price point and offered a low buyer agent commission. Think of this place as a dimly lit home on Halloween, high on a slippery hill, offering small packets of candy corn. It’s not going to get the traffic the seller wants.
Earlier this year, a different home hit the market offering NO CANDY to buyer agents. That’s right. No candy. Not even candy corn or black licorice. It also didn’t help that the home didn’t feel like it was participating in Halloween. It was for sale because the seller needed to sell it. Wanting to sell a property can yield better results.
Moving forward, if I am a serious seller, I am hiring a list agent (not an app, but a human!), who will help me make my home most attractive to buyers (purple lights, fog machines, “Monster Mash” and “Thriller” on the playlist set the right mood). And, knowing that buyer agents like GOOD CANDY, I’m going to chat with my list agent about the best way to offer that. I want an agent who is connected and knows the market.
But what if you skimp on the candy and your overall selling vibe is off? Relax. Chances are your home won’t get TPed and someone will eventually buy it. Eventually.
The choice is yours: You can be the home giving away Kit-Kat bars or you can be the one left with a plastic cauldron full of candy corn.
The night is young.
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