Ask the Audience – Is N-Play a better mousetrap?

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I long ago established that I am just a girl who can’t say no. More correctly, I have this inherent need to try everything at least once. Sometimes the results are glorious, as in, “Look at me being the innovative early adopter!” Other times, and more often, I end up abandoning the new, greatest thing since the wine cork and chalking in up to experience.

This morning my latest shiny toy temptation is N-Play.

Over the course of the past year or so I have had several conversations with Mark Bloomfield, Founder and CEO of this new spin on the home buying and selling process. Initially, I found the concept curious but quickly discounted it as too “different.” But like that stupid Miley Cyrus song, I keep having the urge to sing along despite my best left-brain intentions.

I’m thinking there might be something here. The key is in finding a client brave enough to take it for a test drive.

In short, here is the idea behind N-Play. Agents use their on-line offer management system to “list” their clients’ homes. Buyers then have the ability to make non-binding offers, including general terms, using the site. The key, and this is also the scary part, is that it makes the offer process entirely transparent. Buyers can see the amount of terms of other “offers” and how they rank.

Sellers have the ability to accept, counter, or ignore – kind of like IRL, except that it is all out there for the world to see. And any acceptance is non-binding, subject to subsequently entering into contract.

Here is where my hesitation comes in. Wouldn’t the total transparency of the offer process result in a lower selling price? Mr. Bloomfield says no:

The idea of not showing the price is something we’ve thought of, could easily do, but is a complex issue.  Consumer forced price determination models (this is what we do!) have proven to drive the price of anything to market price in every case. Of course market price is always the highest price anyone will pay at any given time. Since the price is the key component for establishing the overall net value of the offer (under N-Play, other conditions also effect the valuation including, closing date, payment type, contingencies, etc.), hiding the price eliminates the transparency needed to drive market as well as lengthens the process.  Buyers would essentially continue to ratchet the price up or down until they’ve barely passed the lower offer, (if all other conditions are the same), and therefore the buyer could easily deduce the competitive price (think eBay where buyers initial offers start just over the “hidden’ reserve price). Ratcheting to “hidden” numbers is not very user friendly and most likely over time, buyers would tire of the process and just not do it.

A true market for anything will always be achieved given a wide audience.  A low price will be beaten by anyone else in the market who feels it’s worth more. It’s only when no one else feels it’s worth more that the market price is established! A simple concept, but very accurate.

So, here is my question for our three readers. If you are a buyer, does this platform have an appeal? If you are a seller, would you be bold enough to give it a go?

I’m definitely game.

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