Monday, January 28, 2008

A Car Wash Tale

Back in November, a blog auther (Doug Quance) whom I follow posted a fascinating piece about a car wash. So how does this relate to selling a home in today’s market? Read it here to find out:

There’s a lesson in all this, I promise you.

In a transitional part of Atlanta, there now stands a brand spankin’ new car wash. It used to be a Burger King, but that closed years ago… and after demolition, this lot sat vacant for several years.

Fast forward a few years, and a sign went up announcing the construction of the car wash. That sign was up for at least a year in advance of the car wash actually being built… so on this busy street - there was NO question that EVERYONE in the area knew a car wash was coming.

So a few weeks ago, they opened for business - all bright and shiny - and offered a grand opening special of $5.99 to wash a car. They had a guy holding the sign out at the street to make sure everyone knew they were open and that a car wash was only $5.99.

Then, the following week, the sign guy was still out on the street - waving the public in - but this time, his sign stated “$4.99″ - instead of the previous week’s “$5.99″. Hmm… maybe they’re making it up on volume, who knows?

Another week goes by, and now the sign guy is holding a sign stating “$3.99″. Do you see a pattern here? Good. You’re paying attention. Because there is one.

The car wash still does not really have any customers that I can see. And I’d be willing to guess that the owners are starting to panic. After all, they probably spent a million dollars building this place.

So here’s my analysis and how it relates to real estate:

The car wash owners obviously realized that the market did not accept their initial price - no matter how much promotion they had done… and they responded with price adjustments.

Home sellers should take note of this market economics fundamental.

However, what the car wash owners have failed to realize is that two miles down the road is a well-established car wash that has been there for over ten years… and they have a $3.00 car wash. So - unless they add more value to their proposition - the public will continue to reject their offer.

And home sellers should not miss this message, either.

As long as your home does not compete in the marketplace, you will not get any takers. And why should you? There’s a ton of competition out there.

So it will be interesting to see what the car wash owners are going to do next. I am sure that they feel like they “need” to get a certain price (just like some home sellers) but whether or not the market agrees with that price is another thing.

So maybe the guy down at the car wash gets it…

Or maybe not.

Folks, if you’re looking to sell your home in this marketplace, realize from the outset that it will not be easy. Gone are the days when buyers will “at least take a look”, and even further gone are the days when “they can at least make an offer”. No, in today’s market, if your home doesn’t offer some incredibly compelling reason for a buyer to even take a look, you have no chance.

Listen to your Realtor. The car wash guy gets it!

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