Friday, July 15, 2016

Should you Lower Your Asking Price?

Image Attribution: www.shawnkambo.com
Sellers of commercial real estate in Southern California have benefited greatly from an imbalance of supply and demand.

Too little supply coupled with a healthy demand. Only one way for sales prices and lease rates to go - straight up!

Fueled by declining available buildings and record low interest rates, sale pricing's steady upward march started in January of 2013 and, in my opinion, peaked in the first quarter of 2016. Lease pricing started the race to the top about a year later and probably has some track to run before reaching a checkered flag.

If you want to sell your building, you should consider a pricing strategy that reflects today's market. All those crazy numbers buyers paid a year ago, don't occur as much today - unless your offering checks all the boxes - and still probably not. Buyers are savvy. Their advisors are well informed. Everyone knows we are at the top and are proceeding gingerly - lest they make a costly misstep.

We recently sold a building in North Orange County. A competitor acquisition by the owner of the business and building created the desire to sell the building. Better suited for the combined operation was the competitor's location. The building we sold became the odd man out and therefore was slated for disposition.

Carefully analyzed were the market comparables, the currently available inventory, the building's amenities, and work that was necessary pre-sale. Our pricing recommendations were two fold - higher price with the seller paying for clean up and lower price without seller paying for the clean up. Opting to sell without spending the dollars to re-condition the real estate, was our client's decision.

We priced accordingly and sold the building in two weeks. Fortunately, our seller listened to us. Too often, a seller will take the high end of the range - in our case the recommended price if clean up dollars were spent by the seller - and not accomplish the refurbishment. All while rationalizing, "let's see what we get". A dangerous approach in today's market. Buyers will pay top dollar but the building better be perfect.

You may be wondering, hmmm, if we priced higher and deducted the clean up costs, wouldn't we have sold for more? Fair question. The answer was no, in this case. Had we priced at the top, conducted buyer tours, explained the property was being sold in its present condition, and fielded offers - the requested refurbishment discount would have far outstripped our "discounted" asking price. A buyer's perception of refurbishment costs always exceeds reality and they offer accordingly.

Ok, you might say, "I can always lower my price, I can't raise it." True to a point. What sellers frequently underestimate is the message pricing sends to the market. Priced too high - man, that building must have solid gold toilets. Or, that guy must be smoking the good stuff. Priced too low, a frenzy is created, multiple offers are generated, and asking price surpassed - in some cases.

Pricing an offering correctly - possibly a bit low - is so much easier than coming out with a super high un-achievable price and later reducing the asking price. When you commence the retreat in pricing, the market crosses its arms, waits, and says - "see, I told you that building was overpriced!"