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VOL. 37 | NO. 42 | Friday, October 18, 2013

Like Santa, real estate market is a mystery

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Santa Claus is coming to town, and soon. Ten weeks is soon for an adult and a lifetime for a child, but December 24 ’twill be the night before Christmas, and the jolly old elf will appear.

As an aged father of 5-year-old twins, the explanation of a not-so-miniature sleigh full of toys being pulled by eight reindeer driven by St. Nick is becoming less believable by the year.

This doubt is overcome each year when they enter the room with the stockings that they hung by the chimney with care and find them filled with goodies and the room adorned with the fruits of Santa’s work.

Esteemed Nashville attorney Charlie Trost recalls a time when the young son of one of his early partners complained “God, germs and Santa Claus! That’s all anyone talks about, and I have never seen any of them.”

Later in life, that child, now a grizzled real estate veteran, has another item for his list –the real estate market.

This spectre judges houses from the top of the porch to the top of the wall, looks down the chimney at the ashes and soot, check for termites, mold and other creatures that might be stirring, even a mouse. The market is real, certainly lively and quick to shift on a whim.

When the market speaks, it is much like the angel to Mary, God to Moses or God’s revelations to Muhammad, and its message is often inaudible to non-believers. Those that deliver the message are often vilified, even seen as blasphemers.

In a market such as the Nashville area is experiencing, all sellers feel their houses will sell quickly for enormous prices with repair-free inspections.

Only last month, my wife and I joined that congregation when we presented our first home to the market for sale. She in her PR suit and I in my real estate cap felt the house would sell more rapidly than eagles in flight, as we listed it with Stephanie Tipton Soper, my partner.

Stephanie is a practical agent and asked us the price we sought. We gave her our response, and she laughed when she heard it in spite of herself. I was sitting by Stephanie’s desk after the first showing, her phone was ringing off the charger.

As she answered there arose such a clatter that I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.

It was the market calling, speaking through the voice of a Realtor informing Ms. Soper that her listing was so overpriced that her buyers had almost fired her for having shown it to them. They had left the house flying like the down of a thistle.

So we reduced it. Then we repeated the process.

While the market did not speak to us as directly as God did Job, we continued to drop the price, again, then once more.

How long would this market torment us for we had done nothing wrong, adding a Wolf range, Fisher Paykel dishwasher, Subzero refrigerator, granite countertops, refinished the floor and painted the house.

Finally, the market relented and delivered a buyer, at a mere $115,000 less than the original asking price. But the market had spoken, so it must be done. Almost like Yul Brynner said in the movie version of The Ten Commandments.

Then the inspector came, after $20,000 in repairs.

If you have not witnessed the arrival of an inspector in your home, there are fewer more ominous sights. They come carrying ladders, binoculars, radon detectors and a number of other gizmos. Ours was of that ilk with his bundle of meters flung on his back; he really did look like a peddler opening his pack.

He uttered few words and went straight to his work, opened the shutters and tried to throw up the sash, but it was painted shut. He opened his 70-million-foot ladder and went to the roof, where we heard the pawing and prancing off his workman’s boots.

When we got his report, it was quite clear that we had been naughty. So after repairing the eves – not the Christmas variety – and the HVAC, we visited the water heater.

With the house having been vacant for several months, the inspector tested the water heater, the gas encircled its head like a wreath. So, the ductwork had to be cleaned and, eventually, up the chimney the gas rose.

But the owners now have the perfect house, and the market is content with the angst that it wrought. But the house is closed and it will be a Merry Christmas to all. I wish the market only came once a year.

Sale of the Week

As they say, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

The sale of the week is 880 Montrose Avenue and is listed by none other than Israel Gadson. When writing an ecumenical Christmas column in October, what better listing agent could there be, but Israel who is with Reliant Realty.

Israel performed a miracle of sorts selling this three-bedroom, one-bath home in four days for $245,000 after listing the property for $230,000.

Josh – you know, like Joshua –Morant delivered the buyer for this 900-square-foot (that’s $272 a square foot), one-bath home.

Josh tends his flock at Keller Williams, while Israel, a wise man in his own right, wrote in the Realtor remarks that he wanted “Cash Offers Please.”

The market joined several other divine forces in speaking on this one.

Richard Courtney is a partner with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at richard@richardcourtney.com

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