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Playing to the Right Tempo

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

A client recently suggested to me that the pace of finding a home struck them as a much more relaxed process than selling a home. My response was that it is no less frenetic on the buying end than the selling end, the two processes just occur in different tempos, using the metaphor of running a race to illustrate the point.

On the selling end things start out of the blocks with a whirlwind of pre-marketing renovations, inspections and staging to get the property ready to present with the requisite 3D tours, drone videos and hi-res photography that make it almost anticlimactic when you finally hit the market and the place sells in the first week.

By contrast, on the buying side you usually end up running more of a marathon, but the final

steps can be an exhausting end run where you find yourself consistently up against 10-20 offers vying to be the Seller’s choice.

Another key difference between the two is that the majority of escrows are holding together for sellers, with the winning bid committing tens of thousands of dollars in escrow and the security of multiple back up offers ready to step in. Whereas if you don’t win the race as a buyer, you immediately have to line up and start the race all over again.

Since a listing is pretty much as good as a sale these days, it should come as no surprise many experienced agents prefer to cherry-pick listings and refer their buyers to other agents who have the bandwidth and dedication to take on the challenge of working with buyers under these conditions.

When assessing these trends, increasing numbers of sellers are opting to move out in preparation for the multiple days of back-to-back visits by hungry hordes of buyers. And increasing numbers of buyers are choosing to secure a temporary rental so that they can explore their options of finding a replacement home without the pressure of not having the roof over their heads. This is by no means universal, and is subject to change depending on market cycles and cultural mores where the transaction is occurring.

I have heard for example that when you sell a home in England it is standard practice to have the right to keep living there until you find another place. In fact, it is quite common for them to have a “chain” of three or more properties which are linked for the entire transaction to go through, and the sale goes at the speed of the slowest link in the chain.

This is interesting to me, because in our neck of the woods, the conditions under which sellers will consider accepting a contingent offer or where buyers are willing to put up with a seller staying in their property after closing are mutually exclusive. I guess culturally we are just more wired for instant gratification than they are.

In the end, the tempo of each market requires us to recognize and adapt to each situation in different ways. And timing, as they say, is everything.

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