Selling 'Too Cheap'

Regarding Robert J. Bruss' Real Estate Q&A; column responding to sellers who made a deal and then wanted to wiggle out because they later thought they'd sold for too little ("Seller Outsmarted by a 'Nice Couple' " July 16).

The sellers admit they accepted what seemed "very fair" and they entered into a valid, legally enforceable contract of sale. Then they started to talk to neighbors who, as neighbors will, advised them they had sold too cheap.

The sellers should have paid no attention to gossip from neighbors, who are notoriously a very bad source of information regarding the validity of home sales prices. They rarely have any inside dope about why a property sold for a certain price.

Sometimes a seller offers to assist the buyer with financing and asks more money, which the buyer is happy to pay. Improvements on properties can account for a price differential. Concessions made by a seller to facilitate a buyer's special needs (i.e., length of escrow, occupancy date) may justify a higher price.

The letter writer asks, "What should we do?" Bruss replies "I suggest you go ahead and sell the house. . . ." The implication of this suggestion is that the sellers may have other options. They don't. If there is no basis upon which to rescind the contract, the sellers must perform under its terms or leave themselves open to the legal action they have already encountered.

Bruss claims that sellers do not find themselves in this kind of predicament if they employ a "professional" real estate agent. Nonsense! Real estate salespeople often "price down" properties in order to move them quickly. An attractive price gets the property sold faster and the commission paid sooner.

It is common practice in the real estate business for listing agents to induce sellers to reduce their expected sales price. It is even more common for selling agents to accept offers substantially under the listed price and attempt to persuade sellers that it's in their best interests to accept the low offers. Bruss indicates that "professional" real estate agents will get sellers top dollar. It ain't necessarily so.


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