Final offers elude buyers in “shift of the goalpost” sales

July 19, 2013 02:30PM

Buoyed by a new confidence in a bustling market, some New York City home sellers seem determined to keep bidding alive even after there appears to be a winner: a process dubbed goalpost-shifting, as the New York Times reported.

Some sellers are continually demanding sharply higher prices, sometimes coming back with gradual $15,000 bumps every week, prompting buyers to accuse them of pure greed and a lack of attention to moral commitments.

“Sellers are constantly shifting the bar higher, and in some cases, rightfully so,” a longtime Manhattan broker who asked to remain anonymous, told the Times. “There’s a lapse between the time when a listing is priced and activity on that listing, and prices are climbing in that period — that’s why this market is setting a new bar.”

The process leaves even brokers, who in theory take the same tack as their clients, shaking their heads.

“The idea which so many of us grew up with that your word is your bond seems to have been replaced by the notion that greed is good,” Frederick Peters, president of Warburg Realty, wrote in a recent blog post that was quoted by the Times.

With open houses regularly drawing hundreds of would-be buyers, sellers seem to have an incentive to wait for the best offer. But there is concern among buyers that they are overpaying, while some brokers say the competitive nature of New York real estate shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

“Where there is a rope line around a property, it brings out the New Yorker in all of us,” Brian Lewis of Halstead Property told the Times. [NYT]Julie Strickland