There’s a buzz in the air. The real estate market has improved and may be on the road to recovery.
But the improvement in the housing market is not treating all home sellers equally. Some well-priced listings in prime locations are selling within a couple of weeks. In other areas, it still takes months to sell, and prices haven’t fully stabilized.
There are several factors that could be keeping your home from selling. One is the state of the local housing market. Residential real estate is a local business. National trends, while informative, don’t necessarily apply to the state of the market in your neighborhood.
Other factors include: the list price; the condition of your property; or lack of broad marketing exposure.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Today’s buyers don’t overpay. They need to be convinced that the price you’re asking for your home is a fair market value.
The housing market is pulling out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. This is fresh in buyers’ minds. There are plenty of buyers who think this is the right time to buy, but they’re not inclined to make offers on overpriced listings.
Sellers often wonder why buyers won’t make an offer at a lower price if they think the list price is high. Buyers don’t want to waste their time making an offer if the seller is unrealistic. Making an offer takes a lot of time and emotional energy. Most buyers who have the wherewithal to buy a home don’t have time to waste.
There are "bottom feeders" who give sellers lowball offers below market value hoping to get lucky. These buyers also won’t pay over the asking price. They want a bargain. You can do better than that if you price your home right for the market.
Here are clues that your listing might be priced too high. You don’t receive any showings, or you receive showings but no repeat showings. Buyers usually look at a listing more than once before making an offer. Another possibility is that buyers look at your home and then buy another listing that is priced more in line with the market.
Let your real estate agent know that you want to hear feedback from buyers who have seen your home. If they like the house but not at the price you’re asking, that’s a clear indication that you should adjust the price if you want to sell.
Some sellers have false expectations about the current picked-up market. In some areas, the improved market means that homes are taking less time to sell, not that prices have increased.
In other markets, like Phoenix, prices have jumped approximately 25 percent from a year ago but are still way below where they were at the peak of the market. If prices dropped 50 percent in your area, they need to increase 100 percent to get back to where they were before the decline.
For instance, if your home was worth $100,000 in 2006 and dropped 50 percent in value and then increased 50 percent of the lower value, it would be worth $75,000. It needs to increase 100 percent ($50,000 plus $50,000) to recoup your loss.
The condition of your home will influence the market value. You need to lower the price to account for deferred maintenance or a dated decor, or take care of these issues so that you can present your home in move-in condition. You’ll then attract more buyers and sell for more.
It’s always possible that your home has not been properly marketed. Ask your listing agent to provide you with copies of all advertising. More than 88 percent of today’s homebuyers use the Internet to find a home.
THE CLOSING: Make sure your listing is receiving wide Internet exposure, including a lot of good-quality photographs.
Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide."
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