Tales of a Seasoned Broker

While reading the WSJ’s latest article on the elusive seller and why the baby boomer generation in particular are loath to sell their homes, I came across one statistic that really stood out. This one segment of the population, that for the purposes of the article is defined as those between the ages of 60 and 78 years old, own over a quarter of all the 3 Bedroom homes in America. If I had to guess, I would say that number is even higher in many parts of Northern NJ as so many of these neighborhoods were in their heyday just as the boomers were getting married and starting families. 

The article goes on to explain that this category of the population was predicted to become a major source of housing inventory as everyone expected them to downsize, move to Florida or inevitably, begin  the last stages of life which we won’t discuss here. The journalist listed  all the usual suspects for reasons not to move i.e. high interest rates and lack of places to go. If I had to summarize the article, the “tone” that came across to me was that this group just doesn’t feel like it. They just don’t want to move. Plain and simple. 

And so, as Jews all over the world prepare to sit down at their Seder tables and begin the largest celebration of freedom and diversity our people know, we turn once again to the iconic “4 sons” where we specifically name exactly who is in our varied group.  The Haggadah is not shy in describing their characteristics.  The wise, the wicked, the simple and the one who does not know how to ask. As a Realtor for 30 years in this community, I meet these people every day. They do not appear to me as children asking their parents questions regarding theology and moral philosophy. They appear as the 4 Sellers, each one viewing the process of selling a home through the lens of their own upbringing and individual personalities. We will pay careful attention to the “boomers” who play a special role with reference to these “sons.”

The Sentimental Seller

It’s not a rule per se  but just good, sound practice. When you’re trying to sell a home there is very little to gain by having your seller present at the time of showing. I am quick to tell my sellers that  “they’re not buying you, they’re buying your home.” Nothing makes a potential buyer less comfortable and able to envision themselves in your home than when a seller walks around the house with the interested party, pointing out in every room “this is where little Shmuly took his first steps and got potty trained.” These sellers are likely to want to know what a buyer will “do” to a house and prefer to sell to someone they can “envision” living in the home much the way they did. 

The Estate Sale

Imagine a sale where there are actually 4 sons! These deals are impossible, each child bringing their own opinion as to what the best strategy would be to market the house, and of course, they all rarely agree with each other. Usually this house would be sold to a buyer with much patience, as probate and attorneys need to be consulted every step of the way.

Going on Aliyah

We celebrate this group from the bottom of our hearts! Even though you are leaving us for the Promised Land and we won’t be doing shabbat meals, carpooling or playdates with you anymore, we are all rooting for you and hope to be joining you soon. Of course, there are the reluctant aliyah sellers who prefer to dip their toes in the pool first and “rent” their house out for a year before selling but we hope all goes smoothly (ha!) and we sell your house soon! 

The Backer Outer

Don’t get me started on this group.  After a full marketing campaign, open houses, negotiations and signed contracts this group will come up with any number of reasons such as “the timing just isn’t right, and so we aren’t going to sell the house.”  since we’re picking on the Boomer generation, let me reenact what the conversation might sound like:  “We really were all set to move into our place in south Florida but at the last moment our kids told us we shouldn’t sell the house in Teaneck so that we all have a place to get together during the summers”

Nechama Polak is the Broker of Record and Owner of  V&N Group LLC located at 1401 Palisade Avenue in Teaneck, New Jersey. Send your thoughts and comments to nechamapolak@gmail.com or call 201 826 8809