Pinball wizard

Real estate agents use overpriced homes as a negative example to sell similar homes nearby

From the July issue: They’re known as “setups” or “pinball” homes, and this spring’s improving conditions in some markets could be stimulating more of them. A setup or pinball property is a home listed with an unrealistically high asking price that pulls in lots of visits by agents and shoppers, but no offers. The problem is this: Real estate agents, including even the listing agent, are using the overpriced house as a negative example to sell other, similar homes nearby that carry lower asking prices.

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“It’s like a pinball machine,” said Debbie Cook, an agent with Long & Foster Real Estate in Silver Spring, Md. The “setup” is the foil — the home that agents show clients in order to make other, more realistically priced listings look better. [more]