A Conversation With the Window Washer

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Well, this about says it all. While taking pictures of a new listing yesterday, I was chatting with the window washer who was simultaneously doing his thing in preparation of our coming out party.  He is an intelligent, hard-working entrepreneur who I have known for years. Of course, we have “homes” in common, and he asked me how business was. I said the usual – A lot of listings, a lot of activity, but homes are much slower and more challenging to sell. The conversation shifted to the insane price appreciation we have seen over the past five years.

I told Window Washing Man that if he has been thinking of making a purchase, this might not be a bad time to move forward. Interest rates remain low, prices in our area are down, and there are many very attractive opportunities out there right now. His response: “I am waiting for these homes to drop to $200,000”. WAIT A MINUTE! These homes, priced in the high $600,000’s to low $700,000’s today sold new for the mid-$400,000’s five years ago. Does he really think that prices are going to plummet by 60 to 70 percent? Maybe it is a case of too many dirty windows and an obscured view, or maybe this is an (extreme) example of the pervasive buyer mentality today.

Then it occurred to me; we are not just dealing with unrealistic sellers, but with a distorted outlook on the part of the buyers. “We are waiting for prices to come down” has been a common mantra. We hear it daily. I just assumed “down”, in the minds of buyers, was “5 to 10 percent” reduction in price, not a rollback to 1980 pricing. Buyers and sellers alike have been bombarded with doomsday messages but are failing to read the fine print. It may be time for myopic buyers to check their vision, or at least clean their windows. You just might enjoy the view.

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