3 Tricks for Finding the Perfect Asking Price

August 27, 2014

Determining the perfect asking price involves psychological reasons as much as practical reasons, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“When you set a list price, you’re sending a signal to the market,” says Michael Seiler, professor of real estate and finance at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

But pricing a home can be a “delicate balance,” says Mike McCann, a real estate professional with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Fox & Roach in Philadelphia. You have to balance the comparables with sellers’ unrealistic expectations about what their home is really worth. Sellers often want to price a home higher than what the market can bare. On the other hand, some sellers or agents may be tempted to set the asking price low in the hopes of generating a buyer frenzy and quick sale.

What strategy works? Research offers a few insights into setting the right asking price.

  1. Getting too precise means you won’t budge. Pricing research suggests that setting an exact asking price — such as $795,475 — sends the message to buyers that the price is less negotiable than, say, a round number like $800,000. “Those using precise pricing show confidence in the price,” Seiler says.
  2. The number nine can be a big influence. Pricing a property at $499,900 rather than $500,000 can subconsciously influence a home buyer. The home “seems way cheaper,” Seiler says. Even if the home winds up selling above the asking price, the buyer will feel like they got a great deal with the initial lower asking price, Seiler says. “The goal is to make it stick in their head that you’re getting a bargain,” Seiler says. “It’s the way our brain looks at numbers.”
  3. Going low doesn’t always mean a higher selling price. While setting a lower asking price may generate a frenzy of offers, it won’t necessarily translate into a higher sales price. “It creates a havoc that doesn't serve anyone well," Rebecca Walter, a real estate professional with Redfin in Portland, Ore., told The Wall Street Journal. The lower price won’t necessarily increase what a buyer will offer, since some buyers may compete in other ways, like paying in all cash or waiving the inspection to produce a quicker sale, Walter says.

Source: “Strategies for Setting a Price for Your Home,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 21, 2014)