The artist who conceived and painted the opening scene in Disney’s masterpiece, Pinocchio, was an old-world perfectionist. The opening shot was to employ an imaginative technical breakthrough that made it appear that the audience was swooping down out of the night sky into Geppetto’s workshop. The painting had to be distorted just so—in a way that had never been attempted. The story goes that after many frustrating delays, Disney’s producer sent word that he would double the artist’s fee if he’d just hurry up. The artist refused, explaining, “I didn’t ask for more money. I asked for more time!”
For Greenwich and other luxury market real estate, it’s a story that can have analogous meaning. Everyone has his or her own reasons for listing their home, and sometimes timing is of overriding importance. When an immediate change of location is of urgency, a speedy sale is all that the seller cares about—no matter what. But sometimes the market just fails to produce a buyer. When even pulling the pricing lever doesn’t bring about the desired result, a real problem can be at hand—not to mention high emotions.
Particularly for distinctive luxury homes that have one-of-a-kind appeal, it might be best to just pack your patience and wait for a rare one-of-a-kind buyer to appear. And unlike the Disney example, it can be possible to “buy” time. One way is to examine the possibility of renting out the property. Even if the monthly rent doesn’t quite cover the mortgage, the loss can sometimes make financial sense if it allows time for the ultimate buyer to enter the market.
There are issues that need to be thought through when considering a stop-gap solution—and financial details that might make it impractical. In addition to the credit implications, there are tax repercussions— as well as the extra layer of complexity that’s added when a renter-occupied home is offered for sale. In any case, as the Washington Post noted in a feature on this solution, “…most sellers in this situation fail to think through all the factors…” With some thinking, a rental concept, or a change in mindset to one that has a longer time horizon, are some viable options.