advice needed!

miscindyAugust 13, 2009

We put our 5 yr old home on the market 9 days ago. We had 1 request for a showing right away and an open house the 1st weekend. Only 1 person came to the open house. There are about 10 homes in neighborhoods likes ours that are very comparable to our home whose asking prices range from 229,000-250,000. We are asking 235,000 and have a few bonuses that other homes don't have: cul-de-sac location, 3 car vs 2 car garage, walking distance to a lake and the elementary school(but not too close-3 blocks). I feel that's a reasonable price, based on what others are asking. However some have been on the market for many months now, so maybe they're overpriced. Or maybe there's just no one buying in this price range right now.

DH seems to think we should lower our price right away to get more people to look at the house. I said I don't think lowering the price to 229,000 will attract any more interest than 235,000. What do you think?

We owe 222,000 and realtor and closing fees bring the final "cost" to close to around 230,000. Knowing that people are likely to offer less than the asking price, I don't want to lower the price. We have some money we can put in if we have to to get out, but absolutely can't let it go for less than 220,000.

We may have unrealistic expectations for selling times based on the previous 3 homes we've sold. Two were sold before the "For Sale" sign was in the yard. The other had a PA within a month and closed within 2 months. However those were different times and the houses were less expensive.

What can we do and ask our realtor to do that will increase traffic through our home? I've worked really hard to make our home look great--packed up boxes of stuff and taken to storage off-site, bags and bags to donate and trash, cleaned like I've never cleaned before, including scrubbing the outside of the house, organizing all the closets, re-arranging furniture to make the rooms appear as roomy as possible . . . It's frustrating that few people are looking!

Part of my rush is that I'm a teacher and return to work the week after next, so any work that must be done is best done now!! If we sell right away, we will move into a rental house, so I will need to find a place to live, pack etc . . . and I'd love to start that process before I head back to work! (We plan to build a home--exactly when we start depends on many factors right now, but we hoped to start in October).

Thanks for reading my long story and I look foward to your advice!

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The only comps worth considering are houses that have actually sold. I'm afraid that using listing prices won't cut it in such a rough market. Foreclosures have jumped and mortgage rates have risen recently. That means the pool of buyers for existing non-foreclosure sales shrinks proportionately.

In a down market it's unrealistic to set a "must have" price but try to force a short timeline. One or the other may have to give. It's up to you to decide which one to choose.

Yes, you might get lucky and find that one buyer who appreciates your home's attributes. But if you don't...then what? Consider your alternatives and be prepared to make a hard decision if necessary.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:31PM
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Ask your Realtor to run asking vs. sold price report on sold houses in the area. Over here it is between .93% and .97%. That translates into $218,550 to $227,950. Than you'll need to figure RE commissions, transfer taxes and other fees. It wouldn't be uncommon for the buyers to ask to contribute $2-3K toward closing.

Also ask your Realtor to provide daily report on the number of the web hits (daily or total) for the house web page. If this number is not going up more than 1-2 per day, try to drop the price by insignificant number ($2K) and see if there will be a spike of the web hits the next day or two. It would give you the clear indication if there are buyers looking (monitoring) situation. My MLS has two counters: one for the agent hits and another for the public hits. Usually the number of (mostly public) hits directly proportional to the number of visits during given week.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:41PM
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We put our house on the market a couple of weeks ago and have only had one showing. I think we just hit the market at a weird time. We should have gotten on the market earlier in the summer. School is starting this week and next week around here. According to a couple of different realtors that I've talked to, parents wanted to be settled in before school started. The advice has been to hang in there. Showings will pick up again in a short while and then go dead again around November. There is a lull for a couple of months and then it picks back up.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 6:12PM
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I was told the same thing by my Realtor. She said this is a very dead time for real estate and things will pick up in mid Sept.

Sign up with a website like or Zip Realty. They do count how many times someone looks at your house on line. Don't get frustrated, its a bad time of the year.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 11:34PM
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Based on what you are saying, there is a flood of homes on the market in your price range. With only 1 showing in 9 days there also seems to be very few buyers in that range. Lowering your home to 229k isnt going to increase the traffic and 9 days isnt enough time to start reducing. You dont say what part of the US you are in and some places are worse than others. In my area, a house for 235k with what you describe would have multiple offers, in other areas, that price might be a more expensive home.

WHAT DOES YOUR REALTOR SAY? You shouldnt be trying to figure out what to do. Thats what you are paying someone for. She/He should be watching the market, researching what price should get the house sold, marketing to the right target market and advising when a price reduction is in order.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 8:24AM
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The realtor did send us some more comps--this time actual listing and selling prices as well as days on the market. Turns out the actual selling prices for houses like ours over the last 6 months or so have been no higher than 225,000. Based on this information, we have decided to change our asking price to 225,000. Houses with higher SEV's than ours are going for that range. If we can't get at least 220,000 we literally can't afford to sell right now.

Two homes in our meighborhood that have been for sale for 6-8 months have recently sold, so that's a good sign! Around here school doesn't start until after Labor Day.
By the way, I am in the state with the highest unemployment rate--Michigan!

We hope that by changing the price this morning, we might see some inquiries this weekend!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 9:52AM
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Sounds like you're going to have a lot of grouble getting the $220,000, given the situation you're in. Why are you wanting to sell?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 12:29PM
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DH seems to think we should lower our price right away to get more people to look at the house. I said I don't think lowering the price to 229,000 will attract any more interest than 235,000. What do you think?

I think that you are correct. Most people look in ranges of $25k, so a buyer looking at homes up to $250k will see yours, whether it is priced at $229k or $235k. Lowering to $225k should make a bit of a difference. I wouldn't lower to $224,999 as anyone looking at $225k and above will miss your home.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 1:34PM
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I don't know if it was the price change or not, but yesterday afternoon we got a call for a showing for this evening! :)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 1:46PM
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Where are you that Realtor commissions are only 3%?
I think your estimate of transaction costs is way too low. You have to pay the commissions, closings, moving expenses, and pay fees on the house you are going to.

You have owned 4 homes and at the end of it all you have zero equity and for some reason you have a need to enter into another "money loser" transaction of building a new home. Why would you do this? If you are not sufficently wealthy to buy out of this house then you are furthering your financial mistakes of the past in selling this home and building a new home. Focus on your future and your retirement. You are not moving for location or job... Also, you have unrealistic expectations that you can sell a home in 2 weeks in time for school. In this market you can't move into the rental until you basically have the cash in hand from the sale of your home.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 7:54AM
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Yes, you have unrealistic expectations. If you "can't afford" to sell for less than $220K, then pull it off the market and stay put. YOu're just going to frustrate yourself with keeping it clean and chasing the market down. You're going to have to bring money to the table when you close. Period. The only question is do you add a year's worth of notes to those expenses as well. Or, price it really competitively ($200K) and get out from under the burden of the note. Either way, unless you have extensive savings and already own the land, you're not going to be able to build anytime soon.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 11:20AM
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Selling right now is risky... trying to find a reputable custom builder that is not in a world of financial hurt is even riskier.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 9:39PM
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Good luck with your showing but try not to get your hopes up.
The market is horrible in most areas; houses that do get offers usually also get low balled. We were prepared for $10k under our last lowering, ended up with a few offers even lower then that.

We were on for a year total. Listed Memorial weekend, moved memorial weekend.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 8:29AM
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