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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Real Estate Signalling

If you've read Freakonomics, then you're already disabused of the notion that realtors are motivated to sell your house at the highest price or are straight forward in their written descriptions of houses.  In driving through our neighborhood, I've started noticing real estate yard signs.  First, the longer a house stays on the market, the more additional hanging signs will appear below the main sign, like a "p.s." or an addendum.  The mini-signs usually say "open Sunday" or "nice interior" or "new price." 

However, some real estate yard signs have a mini-sign on top, where the "sold" sign usually goes.  This mini-sign reads, "By Appointment" or even "By Appointment Only."  This sign intrigues me because I'm pretty sure that without that sign, I'm still not meant to just ring the doorbell and walk right on through.  We have had the strange fortune to sell four houses in our married life.  We have never had a "By Appointment" sign, but we have never had anyone just ring the doorbell.  So what is the purpose of this sign?  My guess is that it signals that this house is super.  It is super, it will go fast, and it's a lot nicer than your house.  It's such a nice house that we can't just let everyone go through it.  Of course, if you call, you'll get an appointment without a credit check or a list of references, just like you can get an appointment to see any other house with an MLS listing.

Remember the old American Express ads that told you that "membership has its privileges"?  We crave exclusivity, even if it costs us an annual fee and is completely illusory.

Posted by Christine Hurt on June 15, 2005 at 10:40 PM in Books | Permalink


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