Chicago condo, single-family home buyers need advice, too

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Mario Greco

Everyone’s full of advice for homesellers these days. It’s understandable: This is definitely a buyers’ market. Sellers who don’t do everything they can to move their Chicago condos or single-family homes — and this definitely includes pricing it right — risk watching as their property sits on the market for months without attracting any solid offers.

But let’s not ignore the buyers. This may be the best buyers’ market that I’ve ever seen in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean that these folks don’t need advice, too.

I asked Mario Greco to provide that advice. Greco, senior broker and vice president of sales with Chicago’s Prudential Rubloff Properties and founder of The Mario Greco Group, led the city in total real estate sales volume in 2009. He did the same thing in 2008, and since 2005 has sold more condos/townhomes in Chicago than has anyone else. To put it simply: He knows his stuff.

He had one big piece of advice for buyers in this market: Don’t lowball sellers.

Yes, it’s tempting to offer a price far below what sellers are seeking, especially when it comes to Chicago condos. We all know that it’s not easy to sell a condo in the city today with so many units on the market. But Greco says that when buyers offer a price that’s insultingly low, they might end up hurting themselves. They’ll create an adversarial relationship with the sellers immediately. They’ll make the sellers defensive, and that’s no way to end up with the best possible sales price.

“Offer a fair price to excite the seller into thinking that you’re not one of ‘those,’ and you’ll likely end up getting the place for a better price than you would have had you started with a lowball,” Greco told me.

One of the biggest mistakes that buyers make today is in assuming that they can automatically lop tens of thousands of dollars off the list price of Chicago condominiums and single-family homes, Greco said. But some of these residences are already priced fairly. Sellers may be willing to knock something off their asking price — they usually are, in fact — but if they’ve already priced their residences aggressively they’re not going to cut a huge amount out of it.

“The deals are out there, but there is no rule of thumb as to what percentage off the list price you should get,” Greco said. “If it’s priced well, you’re not getting it for 80 percent or 90 percent off list. You may pay 95 percent to 98 percent of list price in some cases.”

Greco ended with a piece of advice with which I wholeheartedly agree: Listen to the advice you get from your real estate agent. Don’t listen to your friends or family members who think they know better. They don’t.

“Don’t listen to your friends or family who last bought a house five to 10 years ago, or even three months ago,” Greco said. “The market changes that quickly now.”

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