Adventures in House Hunting, Realtors, Selling a Home

Have Home Prices come back enough to sell your home?

Everyone seems to be buzzing that the Real Estate Market is returning. No one seems to have a clue what it is returning to. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that home sales have finally started moving in the up direction after so many years in the slumps. Pundits who write about Realty finally have something exciting to publish besides the tired old What Renovations Return the most bang for your buck articles they’ve been hawking.

ChicagoNow resident real estate expert Gary Lucido actually called it a few years ago: “The most recent Macro Markets home price forecast survey of 111 economists predicts that over the next 5 years home prices will average an increase of about 2% per year. In other words…the market is not going to come roaring back.”

Basically, If you were deep underwater a year or two ago, today you may be only treading water. Which brings us back to the question on the tips of many homeowners: Is it finally a good time to sell my home?

According to a lot of realtors I’ve met, it’s always a good time to sell your home. They often leave out the part about needing to owe less on it than its worth, or when you factor in realtor commissions and other transaction costs that still means bringing a check to the closing table.

How much your home is worth to you and how much it is considered to be worth in the real estate world are often two different things. Believe me, I’ve been watching sellers with very unrealistic expectations list their properties over the last few years only to have that home languish on the market. The reality of realty is putting your home on the market is like a putting together a Broadway show. You only have one opening night when everyone is watching.

If a home hasn’t been selling, especially in a so-called sellers’ market, the first thing people assume is there is something wrong with it. Once the home has been rejected, they won’t come back, even if the price is lowered. They have already mentally discarded it.

Or maybe you really need to update your bathrooms

Or maybe you really need to update your bathrooms

Once your listing goes “stale” your agent will tell you that it isn’t priced right and you have to reduce the price. Yep the same agent who reviewed the comps and came up with the price in the first place. Not “sorry I boo-booed” but “Sorry you have to lower your price.” as in I cannot believe you actually thought you could get that price for this place that I priced at that amount.

When I tried to sell my place in 2010, my agent and I sat down and we looked at the comps. He thought we could price it from $200K to $210K. I knew that was high so I said lets go with the low end of that range. We got a few showings but even with the cash for clunkers tax incentive, we didn’t get an offers. I never expected to make money or recoup my costs. I merely wanted to sell the condo for enough to cover my mortgage. Bonus if I actually got some money for a future down payment to buy dinner that night.

I had enough room to make one price adjustment. We dropped it $5K hoping that would insight someone to make an offer of $190. Didn’t happen. When I wouldn’t lover my asking price anymore, the agent dropped me except he wouldn’t let me take the place off the market. I had foolishly signed a contract that had a clause about de-listing before the contract expired, six months.

That’s on me. I knew it was there and should have asked to have it removed. In a normal market there’s a very valid reason for having this clause. You don’t want to do a lot of work, showing a home, only to have the seller find a buyer independently and then cut you out of your hard earned commission. However this wasn’t a normal market, it was the middle of the Bust and leaving my listing Active was only punishing me for not being rich enough to sell at any price.

But what is on my former realtor is that he pulled the comps and set the price and made no acknowledgement or took any responsibility when reality didn’t measure up to his advice.


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