“Too many people today know the price of everything and the value of nothing”. A little pearl of wisdom offered up by Ann Landers, a pen name created by Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist Ruth Crowley in 1943 - and taken over by Eppie Lederer in 1955.
For 56 years, the ‘Ask Ann Landers’ syndicated advice column was a regular feature in many newspapers across North America. Due to this popularity, 'Ann Landers', though fictional, became something of a national institution and cultural icon.
As you may know by now, I’m not a fan of surveys – with a couple of notable exceptions. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) are a conservative bunch - not for them the agent-speak of “must view”, “deceptively spacious” and the classic “we’re really busy”.
A recent RICS survey really hits the spot in proclaiming “unrealistic house price expectations hindering sales”. Housing transactions are being held back by sellers’ continually unrealistic house price expectations, with the market set to remain subdued in the coming months, according to RICS.
Its latest survey found that surveyors' sales expectations for the next three months have dropped 4% to a net balance of zero, while transactions in December remained relatively flat at 15.2 per surveyor.
An RICS housing spokesperson, said: "While it's encouraging that sales activity held up relatively well towards the end of the year, continuing problems with the economy and the on-going instability in the Eurozone seem to be weighing heavily on the UK housing market and expectations for the coming months are fairly subdued”.
"The increasing number of prospective sellers who placed their homes on the market in December is a positive development as a lack of stock has been a big issue in some parts of the country.
"But with sales expectations remaining flat, it is important that vendors are realistic in their pricing if they wish the sale to go through in good time."
As a nation we are deeply entrenched in the notion of being “king of our castle” – and as such I regularly hear a steadfast “I’m not going to give it away”. However, to successfully sell a property in this market, you need the best agent you can find - in tandem with a marketing strategy finely attuned to a realistic and therefore achievable sale price.
So, we begin to see the logic behind Ms. Landers little gem earlier – ie: the significance of value. You can pitch a sales asking price at whatever figure takes your fancy – or in most cases what your agent fancies.
But crucially, the value of your property is the point at which someone will part with their hard earned and do the deal. Put simply, the wider the differential between price and value, the longer you’ll wait to book the removals van.
Indeed, many agents are beginning to question whether it’s good business to take a client on a “no sale no fee” basis. The expense of marketing a property for 6 – 9 months without an end sale is simply that – an expense.
So, sellers need to let go of the feel-good factor of previous good times – and tap into the “here and now” of the current environment. Or as Landers would have it “Experience is pure gold. Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”.