A recent article about a vacant institutional building not selling for 18 years because the vendors could not get the price they wanted led me to thinking about a few residential situations I have just seen.

In one case, an inherited house was put on the market at a very high price after some quickie ‘renovations’. One agent after another got the mandate, to no avail, the property would not sell. I visited it a few months ago with a client, and asked the agent about the vendor motivation…’’they are firm on their price’’ I was told. That listing expired and the property has just come back on the market. at almost exactly the same price The property has also been sitting vacant for years, and taxes, upkeep, insurance, depreciation and even inflation have slowly but surely eaten away at the net the vendor will see. But he will stubbornly hold on until his target sale price is met.

Another home, listed with a discount agent from a wildly different area after the vendor had no success with duProprio, has been on the market for 9 months with no offers and almost no visits. The vendor, a friend of a client of mine, is understandably discouraged. She moved 6 months ago and has been carrying two mortgages for half a year. I discussed her home before she listed with the discount broker, her only question was about my commission rate. She made perfectly clear she was not interested in netting less than her house was ‘worth’. What have those 6 months of double payments cost her?

I fully appreciate and respect someone’s desire to net a great price for their home. But there is a disconnect in how people calculated value. Selling price is only one aspect of a successful real estate transaction. Stress, uncertainty, carrying costs, lost opportunity, bad feelings, lost time at work, liability for a vacant property, inability to move on with one’s life…there are a multitude of factors that could end up costing a vendor peace of mind, time and money that are not reflected in a sale price. The non-residential building I mentioned above sat vacant for 18 years because the owners could not get the price they wanted. That stubbornness cost them well over a million in carrying costs alone.

This is not a rant about unrealistic clients, it is an expression of my concern about how people are unwittingly making decisions that go against their own best interests, often because they don’t know any better or because they are not well informed. Presented well, a property listed at an accurate price should sell fairly quickly. A good choice of realtor will make the process painless, enjoyable, and even fun.

Don’t cheat yourself. When making important decisions, it helps to look at the big picture and put all things into perspective.