Real estate and groceries

We spent a very agreeable afternoon today with friends on their country estate south of Ottawa sitting in the open air lathered in sunshine chatting and playing with their high-spirited French bulldog Louie. Our rambling conversation about recent mundane undertakings took a sudden turn. Unexpectedly earlier that day our hosts had received from their estate agent an offer to purchase a property they have for sale in the City. Our hosts were too magnanimous to cancel our foregathering in light of the unfolding business transaction. When however discussion spilled upon the subject we were all four instantly consumed by the delectable discourse.

It won’t surprise you to learn that each of us had a different opinion about the propitious strategy to be pursued surrounding the customary agenda of offer, counter offer, etc. Each of us spoke at some length regarding what we considered Counsel of Perfection in this delicate matter of forming a binding contract of substantial consequence with a stranger. It was only towards the end of our singular philippics that we concurred upon the pararmount utility of the estate agent’s opinion in the matter.

The disposition of real property is by any measure a unique realm of retail business. There is – by design – no stated price (at least other than putatively).  Overtly the paradigm is driven by the goal for the highest price.  By contrast I have heard the quip expressed by an astute estate agent, “This weekend only!” which is meant to diminish and unbraid the foolishness that presumes an ignorant audience.

What persists therefore is the via media; that is, acceptance of some give and take. The identical veneer of reasonableness applies of course. There may also emerge an element of chance – and naturally an associated risk.

There is an oft repeated adage about real estate sales; namely, “The first offer is your best offer.”  It has some strength. Whoever is first to express an interest is obviously intent upon the matter.  And whether the offer is received sooner or later, the first offer is at the very least timely. While it is insinuated or expected that there will be some exchange between the parties following their opening gambits, there is the possibility that the opening offer of either party is unmovable.

The further well known aphorism of general application is, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” It is used to say that it is better to hold onto something one has than to risk losing it by trying to get something better. I prefer to portray the wisdom rather by focusing less upon the price and more upon other circumstances which inevitably surround the event. Commonly within the scope of real estate there are many factors influencing and being influenced by the transaction. Assessing some of those factors will disclose commensurate bearing, perhaps as palpable as economic return or maybe only as pragmatic as emotional advantage.

In the end…no matter how blunt or elevated the science may be, there is really no one who can predict the outcome. We quelled the wastefulness of further enquiry (and possible infringement of privacy) by narrowing the subjects to our health and the weather. But our departure had been ignited. On our way home – and after the car wash and the grocery shopping – we allowed these thoughts to simmer. An email arrived an hour after our departure; there was a counter-offer on the table.  They’d let us know…