Real Estate: “How low can you go?”

“It is an excellent deal and in Coconut Grove for under $500-thousand. This is as good as it gets.” That was the killer sound bite in a recent real estate story I turned for NBC6. It was almost desperate. Tony Scornavacca Jr. was the real estate agent who made that comment as he walked by our camera. It was not a response to a question. He just said it out-loud and I put it on TV because one sentence told the whole story.

Scornavacca represents Michael Mahar the owner of the 3 bedroom one bath cute-as-a-bugs-ear North Grove home. Mahar has done a lot to the 1940’s home. There is the professional kitchen-Mahar is a chef-with slate floors, lots of french windows, a nicely landscaped back yard, “this owner has done everything perfectly,” says Scornavacca.  

The story we were producing was based on new statistics that dubbed Miami as the worst performing real estate market in the country. The Magic City was tied with Las Vegas as the nations biggest real estate loser.  The index produced by Case-Schiller told the story of the Mahar house perfectly. The asking price for the home had dropped at a steady pace.  At one time two years ago it could have fetched $620-thousand dollars.  “It has been a tough two years, just watching it drop and drop and now I have to sell it.”  Michael Mahar gave you the sense that he was trapped. That’s a word I hear more and more these days. It comes from people who need to make a move, want to go on with their lives but can’t.  They cannot sell their homes. The market is absolutly flat unless you are looking for foreclosures and it is those homes and folks that have just walked away from homes that cut into the potential of Tony Scornavacca finding a buyer for Michael Mahar’s home. 

We kind of produced the story like those shows you see on HGTV.  In the back of my mind I was thinking that the TV exposure might just lead to a sell.  It was a bit of an experiment. The price seemed right to me, a pretty good deal, “no way this baby won’t sell,” I kept telling myself. The story aired,  it looked pretty good, I waited two days to call Tony Scornavacca. “Did you get any bites?” I asked. “Just one call from another real estate agent congratulating me on getting on TV and giving the house exposure,” Tony told me.  Apparently the caller also said he might have a client that was interested, but that was it and the agent never called again.

The home gets very few visits from prospective buyers, maybe a showing once a week. An open  house pulled 7 or 8 couples.  Tony thinks that what buyers that are out there are waiting for absolute rock bottom before they make a move. Meanwhile Michael Mahar continues to be frustrated, not a buyer insight, the only solace is……he is not alone.

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