Low Voter Turnout and the Real Estate Market

Make the Mark ( a nod to Mike Hursh :-)
Creative Commons License photo credit: James Durkee

There are a lot of sellers scratching their heads right now wondering where all of the buyers are. And there are a lot of agents representing them wondering the same.

This week, our biggest issue is low voter turnout. It’s the bane of all home sellers.

Make no mistake. This real estate market today is about as exciting as watching my cat sleep. Our mid-decade realities of instant gratification and swift results are no more. Finding a buyer for a home requires time and patience – lots of it. And from one listing to the next, despite our and the sellers’ best intentions, there often seems to be no rhyme or reason to why some homes sell quickly while others languish on the shelf.

Low voter turnout benefits the extremists and, as a result, threatens increased polarization.

The extremes we are seeing right now involve price and condition, and the latter generally circles back around to price.

Traditionally heavy on the listing side of the equation, this year Steve and I will watch the ball drop having been a little heavier on the buyer’s agent side. It’s a function of the market. And it’s not that there are more buyers now than there were a year or two or five ago. It’s just that those buyers are more patient, creating a logjam of sorts, where everyone is waiting for both a record low price and perfection. They’re the extremists waiting to cast their votes for the outliers.

There is one thing we know with certainty. You can’t sell a home if no one sees it. And the question of the week, the one we are fielding like ball shaggers in a fast-pitch batting cage is, “Why am I not getting more showings?”

There are the traditional culprits, of course:

1.     The price is too high.

2.     ‘Tis the season, and people are busy with other things. Today, the yuletide Musak has officially been cued.

3.     Showing instructions make it difficult for buyers to visit. Confirmed appointment, no lockbox, agent-eating dogs onboard, must pat your head while rubbing your belly and then we might let you in between 2:30 and 2:36 on alternating last Tuesdays of the month – these qualifiers tend to kill a room.

4.     The condition of the property is less than stellar. (Note: This alone is not enough to dissuade serious buyers, unless the corresponding price tag lacks at least some semblance of correlation.)

5.     The marketing sucks.

6.     The price is too high.

Admittedly, we have a couple of listings that just might be a smidge guilty of numbers 1 and 6. “Why won’t they just see it and offer what they think it is worth?” we are often asked. Well, they just won’t. In today’s game of buyer chicken, the sellers are expected to make the first move.

Sometimes, though, there are homes that just don’t sell and, for the life of us, we can’t explain it. The condition is superior, the marketing is extensive, the location is desirable, and the price is oh-so compelling. We have one of those too. This is where low voter turnout is wreaking havoc.

What we are seeing is a case of market polarization. A compelling price is not the same as “I took the sellers to the cleaners” and a desirable location is not the same as “the one down the street that has a view to Fiji.” The outliers will wait until the opportunity for one or the other presents itself. Some will wait for both. And they will wait, and wait.

And the great home with the compelling price, the lovely condition and the desirable location will sell eventually, even in an environment of voter apathy. It just takes a little more time and patience.

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