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April 18, 2012

“Manipulative Pricing” Returns to SF Market


It started in the latter half of 2011: Well-appointed, “value-priced” properties came on the market, and quickly went into contract. Also making a steady reappearance were multiple-offer scenarios, particularly in neighborhoods like Noe Valley and other tech employee strongholds.

What we have as of April 2012 is the return of “manipulative pricing”—properties priced deliberately lower than market value with an eye toward attracting extreme buyer interest and substantially higher selling prices. Case in point was 1219 Cole (above), a gracious 2BR/2BA home on a prime Cole Valley street, listed for $1,095,000. The broker tour and open houses were zoos of buyers and agents, and the sellers ended up with 18 offers and a contract price reportedly well above that list price.

There are many other examples of such activity that span various price ranges and property types. An obvious indicator of manipulative pricing is the trend as of the last few weeks involving listing agents entering a property into the MLS and setting an offer date before any showings or open houses take place. Such a practice is a dead giveaway that the home is being listed for below-market value.

It’s not surprising to me that strategies used during the height of the market are returning in 2012. After all, the tech job sector is booming, buyers seem to be accessing large sums of cash, international buyers are continuing to make purchases here, and everyone has adjusted to the challenges of the lending landscape (and its low interest rates). Moreover, there is a real lack of well-priced, well-located inventory out there.

So if you have a great 3BR house in Ashbury Heights to sell, give me a call. We’ll list it at $1,195,000 and I’m sure you’ll be happy with the results.

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