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Thoughts on real estate marketplaces

The responses are still coming in from yesterday’s real estate marketplace survey, but I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to complete it. I really appreciate it. I was reviewing the responses this morning and I thought there were a couple of interesting takeaways.

First, most people who own a home have at one point or another thought about selling that home. And even the people who haven’t thought about it, said they would be willing to sell under the right circumstances. That is, they would sell for the right price, for a better place, and so on. At the time of writing this, nobody said they would never ever sell.

I think this is interesting because, even though the real estate market is a highly illiquid market, my hunch is that it could be made a lot more liquid with the right frameworks in place and if the barriers to selling could be reduced.

And sure enough, many of the folks who said they have thought about selling (but haven’t yet), said it’s partially because it’s too expensive and too much work to sell. But in addition to these barriers, two other points emerged that I hadn’t given a lot of thought to before – but make total sense. 

Homeowners also said that they haven’t sold because they’re too emotionally attached to their home and because they’re afraid they won’t be able to find another place to move into. 

Because of how illiquid the real estate market is and because home transactions are typically asymmetric (that is, buying and selling are independent actions), there appears to be a real concern that you could sell your home and never find anything better.

And since a home is such an emotion filled asset (as opposed to, say, a stock), people are naturally afraid of making the wrong choice. But then that begs the question: Are we, as real estate consumers, being left with suboptimal outcomes because we’re simply too afraid of the making the wrong choice?

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