July has quickly turned to August and the temperatures are rising. So, too, are expectations of high-end home sellers. In Southwestern Montana, particularly the Bozeman area, the end of July heralds the beginning of the true “Selling Season,” which typically runs through the middle-to-end of October. This year has gotten off to an excellent start, with the first 7 months of 2014 posting solid increases in both the number of units sold and the price points paid for single family homes priced $750,000 and above. The activity level and success helps fuel sellers’ anticipation that they will be receiving a viable Buy-Sell Contract in the very near future. Sellers are getting antsy. And, in a number of instances, if their home is not being steadily shown, and they are not feeling the outlook is in their favor, they begin to cast a critical eye toward their agent.

Just how much can a Realtor do to garner attention for your home if it is currently on the market? Quite a bit, starting with compiling all the hard data that accurately lets a potential buyer know exactly what they are considering purchasing. Great photography, marketing brochures, web presence, and targeted advertising all helps put your home before a large audience of potential buyers. It is important that your Realtor knows the current market, is aware of your direct competition and the existing inventory of homes, and understands what makes your property special. Buyers today are often seeking specific amenities, whether it is being in a certain neighborhood, having a main floor master bedroom, or the property including a water feature. Your Realtor needs to highlight the unusual and desirable aspects of the home and to present the entire listing in an appealing manner. It’s always good for a home to have discernable “flavor,” even if it is vanilla (which happens to be America’s favorite dessert ingredient).

Buyers are individuals who live by their own rules. They can be decisive or not, opinionated or open to suggestions. Most often they have their own agendas and requirements, their own sense of style, and their own set of needs and desires. The most important fact for sellers to comprehend is that buyers generate the sale, not the agents or marketing. Realtors are there to help facilitate, to offer information and share expertise, and to provide information so that a buyer feels secure that their money is wisely invested. In the same way you can rarely “make” someone fall in love with another person, agents can rarely direct a buyer’s emotional sense of a property and the ultimate decision that this is “Home.” That is something generated within the buyer.

Currently, in the Bozeman, Montana market area, there are 50 properties listed for $1.5 Million and above. Six properties in this price range have closed this year, and 3 more are pending. The competition amongst the inventory is ferocious as the buyer field is small. Couple this fact with the buyers today being so much more informed due to internet research, reality television shows centered on home buying, and the general rising of sophistication levels. Buyers know how to figure out prices per square foot, costs of remodeling, and what their other choice are. They spend time searching the internet and comparison shopping. They tend to zero in on the properties that interest them and dismiss the rest, only viewing them in person if their agent insists. Less than a five years ago, Realtors more often than not guided the buyers, choosing which properties would be shown. Social media, cable TV, and the internet have armed buyers such that a sizeable percentage of them now provide their agent with a list of MLS numbers of homes they wish to see. Good Realtors are able to guide buyers towards properties they overlooked or should reconsider, but they best be on their game and able to justify why the property is worthwhile.If you have a home in a niche market that is not being toured and not receiving attention, it may be a situation of price adjustment, a different “branding,” beginning with swapping key photos and emphasis of marketing, or maybe, it is the most difficult of all-simply being patient and waiting for the one right buyer. There is no science or formula as to what causes a particular buyer to love one property and have no interest in another. Stats and market research shows that Montana luxury buyers today want outdoor entertaining areas with kitchens, a great room with open floor plan living, main floor master, a smaller footprint, live water, terrific views, privacy, close proximity to Bozeman, and guest quarters. Yet, when the right buyer walks into a certain home, they instantly know this is what they want, throwing the checklist of desired features aside. Or, lauding that the home has one or more and is “Exactly what we’ve been looking for!”

The buyer generates the sell. And every buyer is unique. It is difficult to have your home on the market and to have to wait for the right buyer to materialize, especially when you are in a very limited market, but if you have hired the right Realtor, your home is competitively priced, and it is being properly marketed and advertised, you may just have to “chill” despite the heat of the summer and market. The one right buyer does exist. It just may take time, even in an “up” market.


Mike Schlauch & Sally Uhlmann