Just as I was serving my dog her breakfast, my cell phone rang from the other room.  I dumped the food into the bowl and ran for the call.”

“Hi, this is Geena.”

“Geena – I’m sure you were going to call me, but I wanted to do this as soon as possible.”

I actually wasn’t going to call that seller that morning, but, whatever.  I listened.

“How much are we going to raise the price by?”

“We’re not raising the price,” I responded, shocked.  “Why would we raise the price?”

“Housing prices are going up!  It said so in the Wall Street Journal!  Shouldn’t we do it before anyone makes an offer?”


Oh boy.  My faithful, factual newspaper, the Wall Street Journal.   Good to have a client read the headlines, better to have a client read the whole article.  I had been getting calls like this all summer, after my seller had read headlines like the one in the September 23 WSJ:  “Home Prices Keep Rising.” Let the client counseling begin.  

I started with a gentle reminder:  “You know the headline is there for hype, right?  It’s supposed to get you to read the whole article.  It’s supposed to sell the paper.”  Realistically, they were just being human.   As soon as they heard what they wanted to hear, they stopped listening.  Or reading, in this case.

So I went on. 

“Did you see that the uptick was only 0.1% on average across the country?  And that New England actually kept going down?”

I heard newspaper rustling in the background, and knew the homeowners would take the time to read the article now.  So I shifted to the information they wouldn’t find in the WSJ.

“I’ve been a Realtor for over 20 years,” I told my seller. “I’ve seen ups and downs and we are still down.   As of today I have a buyer who has three purchase contracts out and all of them are on foreclosure sales.  On one of them,  we’re in the middle of a four way offer, so, yeah, prices are going up on that one, but it’s on a foreclosure.  It was underpriced to begin with.  Even with the lower prices, I have still had more deals fall apart in the last three months than would normally over a five years.”  I did some paper rustling of my own to find the data for the Broker Price Opinion I was working on.  “Here.  The average sale price in “Greenwich II” –  next door to you guys – is $316,320.  That’s down from $332,000 last month.”  My clients were quiet, so I summed up: “We can’t afford to raise the price right now.”

I hate bursting bubbles.  But when my clients are on the verge of pricing themselves out of sales, I have a responsibility to.  Newspapers need to sell papers to stay alive, so even my WSJ will skew headlines.  The rest  of the article is what makes them a reliable news source.  More importantly, that is why I am there – me, and the other Realtors.  The article tells you the story behind the headline, but a Realtor can tell you the story behind the story, and steer you clear of the headline hype.