My favorite metaphor for how close a listing is to selling is temperature (“Listings and Pots of Water“).
So, a new listing starts out at room temperature, heats up as showings (and second showings) accelerate, and reaches a boiling point by the time a strong offer (or two) comes in.
I still think that that applies, but based on the feedback my listings have been getting recently, a new metaphor seems in order: horse racing.
Specifically, listings these days seem to fall in to one of the following four categories:
Win: The best of what’s out there. Offer imminent.
Place: First or second. The Buyer’s next likeliest step is a second showing, to see both homes “fresh,” dig in on the Seller’s Disclosure, etc.
Show: Top three. The home had many nice attributes, and the price is in the ballpark — but it was eclipsed by the finalists being considered by the Buyer.
Out of the Money: Didn’t make the cut — no further interest.
If a home is repeatedly “out of the money,” action on the Home Seller’s part is indicated: that can be either reducing the price and/or enhancing the home’s appeal (by addressing whatever the most consistent objections have been).
On the other hand, if the home is making Buyers’ short list, “standing pat” — i.e., waiting for the competition to sell — can be an option (and is certainly the path of least resistance for Sellers).
However, in a Buyer’s market, I wouldn’t recommend it.
That’s because it risks being overtaken by new, better-priced horses — er, listings, as well as existing listings that are not standing still, and instead are aggressively improving their price and/or appeal.