Pricing a Home in a Down Market - You Can't Underprice a Home

This is something that we (and I think many other agents) struggle with in the market today. We meet with a client and go over what we believe should be the list price of a home and it's seldom a pleasant conversation. Typically, sellers know it's worth less than it was a few years ago, but getting the price right today really is more important than it used to be.

A home gets it's most activity from potential buyers in the early part of a listing period - the first 2 weeks. If it isn't priced for the market, it won't get an offer. Still, seller's feel they need to leave room to negotiate because they feel they need to squeeze every penny they can out of their sale. It's a fair enough idea, but it isn't grounded in what the data says they should do.

First, I'd like to discuss an important concept that regularly gets overlooked by both seller's and agents: It's impossible to underprice a home. Let me reiterate - you can't underprice your home. In a free market, it doesn't matter if you underprice by $1,000 or $50,000. It will sell for as much as the market will pay. Not more, not less.

So let's try to do a better job of recognizing the understandable objection about pricing and do a better job of explaining how the market works. If you list your home for the correct price, it will sell and it will happen fast regardless of your price point. It's not like homes aren't selling (see chart).


As you can see from this chart which shows home sales during this declined market, home sales are actually quite consistent. It's just that only the ones that represent exceptional value sell. If you price it at the right number, it's impossible for it not to sell. So the obvious question is that if you list it low and it sells fast, doesn't it meant that you could have listed it a little higher, waited and got a higher offer? The answer is of course no. Emphatically. If you overprice your home and need a price reduction to sell, it will sell for less than it would have had you priced it correctly to begin with (see charts below).



This second chart is very telling. If you price high and reduce, it will sell for less than it would have had you priced it correctly to begin with.

It is possible however to have missed the mark by pricing it a little bit too low. Guess what happens get multiple offers and the price will be brought up to the highest possible price.

Still not convinved? Look how long it will take if you overprice your home instead of pricing it correctly (pay special attention to the fact that it doesn't matter at all at what price point your home is in).


Red is the time to sell of homes that did not get a price reduction. Yellow is homes priced correctly at the start.

So, don't fear low pricing. It's your best chance to get the highest amount for your home.

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