I have a tendency to steer clients towards homes that I like. That word, "steer", is a very evil real estate term. I read something about it once in some big book that I didn't really read when I was studying a bit to pass my real estate exam. Real estate, the industry, is more concerned with what not to say or do than it is concerned about anything else. Perhaps that's why real estate is so superficial in most cases. Why Realtors are spiffed up tour guides who offer tepid advice but rarely strong opinions. And so it is with steering, the real estate term. I think it means something about steering protected groups into different areas because of their protected status. In my life, and on this blog, steering means something entirely different. And that's a good thing.
In my real estate business, I steer like crazy. But that isn't to say that I steer like a cab driver on a television show, because I don't throw the wheel back and forth like that. Instead, I steer straight and I steer steady, and I accelerate as best I can. My destination? Value. Where is exists I must find it, and when I find it, I must then steer that car with those buyers in the back seat, and I must lay that proposition of value at their feet. I do this all the time. If I find a property that I like, no matter if it's an in-house listing or not, I'll drive buyers to that property again and again until I find a match. If this were a cartoon, I'd be beating value over the head of one buyer until they can't take it anymore and then I'll grab another buyer and beat them over the head with it. Real estate is not without bruises.
This is how it was with a small little house on Lower Loch Vista earlier this year. The house looked primed to sell cheap, at least by my eyes, and so I routinely drove down Conference Point Road and took the sharp right onto Lower Loch, following it all the way to the end. The home there wasn't much to look at. Most buyers drove right into the driveway, then did a sloppy Y turn, and drove back in the direction that they had come. This is what most buyers did, until I hit the right buyer over the head with it and we negotiated the pants off of that place. At the final sales price of $242,500, it was the cheapest sale in the Loch Vista Club in five or more years.
I did this again this summer, and instead of doing it in the Loch Vista Club I took my car one block north and beat a small ranch in Oakwood Estates over a bunch of different buyer's heads. Yesterday, the buyer that liked the way that value felt closed on that old-ish home for $208,500. That number needs some context. The only other comparable sales in Oakwood Estates over the past several years printed in the $325k range. The only other association that compares directly with Oakwood Estates in terms of market placement and geography is the Loch Vista Club, whose $242,500 sale was their version of rock bottom. This sale, at $208,500, to a young couple from the northwestern suburbs is what value looks like.
Don't get me wrong, sometimes value looks sort of ugly. Sometimes, it needs a lot of paint. And some new floors. And a kitchen. And a few baths. But in spite of these scheduled improvements, this was a sale that made sense yesterday, and it's a sale that will make sense today and tomorrow and ten years from now. Value can hide under bad paint and ugly trim, but rare price points in highly desirable associations will always represent value.
Value, it is what real estate is all about, isn't it? That was a leading question, because that's not really what real estate is all about. Real estate, in case you haven't engaged in the purchase or sale of it lately, is about emotion. Financial considerations aside, emotion is what drives us when we turn our greedy eyes to real estate. And when emotion is in control, common sense can take a back seat. This is why I should be the one doing the steering. Currently, I'm driving carload after carload to a property in the Lake Geneva Club that might be ready to sell right. A big congratulations to the buyer's of this great association home on the West bank of Williams Bay. And a bigger thanks to my old client who referred this new client to me.
Photo courtesy Ideal Impressions Photography.