Selling Your Soul to Sell Your House

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Ok, maybe it hasn't gotten quite that bad, but now is not a great time to put your home on the market. Sure, it may be tempting, with prices dropping, to upgrade to something larger or with a better location, but beware... unloading your current digs may be more trouble than it's worth. Those houses just sitting on the market with the great low-low prices are just like the one you'll be trying to sell, and if you can even get an offer, you're not likely to get a great price. Are you selling your home? Are you offering crazy incentives? I remember a local couple offered a free car if you'd buy their home last year... and now there's a couple offering a free house... buy it now, and get your money back when they die!

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So, how much lower than asking price, on average, should you offer? As a potential first time home buyer, I am seeing homes still listed quite high and they are just sitting there. I'd like to make an offer. How low can I go?

Sent by Amanda | 2:12 PM | 10-31-2007

I too buried St Joseph and within a couple of weeks I was closing the deal. My real estate agent had buried St Joseph without my knowledge and I was on the market for months. Although I'm not Catholic I am a positive thinker and believe.

Sent by Renate Fearonce | 2:15 PM | 10-31-2007

I bought my home from a relocation company, so they were not interested in doing anything special. The only issue was cost, they also had a rider that superceded anything that was in the purchase agreement, which put a lot more risk on us, the buyers. So, the house sold for 300K about three years ago, it was orginally listed at 289, we put in our first offer with the list price at 269K. We offered 232K. We ended up getting it for 240K after we said we would walk away, and most importantly, we were willing to walk away. Cannot be emotional, there is no perfect house, go for the throat, and be willing to walk away (call the sellers bluff).
St. Louis Park, MN

Sent by Peter Azzi | 2:16 PM | 10-31-2007

Let me get this straight - we lead off a show on selling houses with a woman talking about burying a statue of a saint and this is what caused her house to sell?

What is this? The 700 Club Homestead? Fox Reality Channel?

I expect more from NPR. Such a lead would be fun on the Daily Show but you are supposed to be doing 'real' news. Leave the comedy to the professionals, please. I'll tune back in an hour.

Sent by Kirk Brooks | 2:17 PM | 10-31-2007

Real Estate Exchanging is on the up tick as the conventional market creates sellers with mortgaged equity that want "out."

My condo is up for exchange into something that does not "eat" in terms of taxes, condo fees, etc while I can't sell or rent it.

Sent by charles Senf | 2:24 PM | 10-31-2007

I am wondering if you can give any advice on whether to continue trying to sell at drastically reduced prices or if we should take our home off the market and try again in the Spring, hoping that the market may improve. Our home is 3100sft in a desirable San Antonio neighborhood. It started at a competitive price of 130k in April and now we are at 290k with no offers coming in. We could hold on to the house without too much discomfort in order to yield a more appropriate price. We bought for 260k, put a deck on, added many nice curb appeal features and upgraded appliances in the kitchen. The house is "model home" showing quality according the realtors who have shown it. Unfortunately we have really suffered with all the new home construction which appears to be slowing down.

Sent by Anna | 2:25 PM | 10-31-2007

After successful house sales in Oakland in 2005, and Portland in 2007, my wife and I have relocated to Oaxaca, Mexico where our gains provide a nice life & eye opening experience for us and our two small kids. We are renting here, with an eye on the ups and downs of the local market; perhaps we will buy here next year. I predict many Boomers like myself will buy in Mexico, where the values are good and the dollar is relatively strong.

Sent by Steve Lafler | 2:28 PM | 10-31-2007

I had THE most adorable townhome in Shawnee KS (Kansas City). I bought it 1 1/2 years ago after it had only been on the market 27 days. When I decided to move back to New Mexico this September, I told my real estate agent to beat my 27 days, as a fun challenge. He sold it in TWENTY ONE days!!! Positive thinking, visualizing, and planting St. Joseph in the front garden all helped it sell, as did the fact that it was a wonderful, clean, fantastic home.

Sent by joni newcomer | 2:28 PM | 10-31-2007

My wife and I would like to buy our first house, but not until sometime next summer or fall. Are these favorable market conditions for buyers likely to last long enough to benefit us?

Sent by Charles | 2:29 PM | 10-31-2007

I have a house for sale on St George Island, a nice island in North Florida. Right now, it's listed (by owner) at almost 100k less than I could have sold it 2 years ago, but that's okay with me. It's an older, basic house. The only great thing is that is on the island with a great bay view, and it's probably the cheapest house in the island!
I've fixed it up nicely, it's "okay"... but I think at the lowest priced home on the island, it'll eventually sell .
Oh and I also have a St. Joseph buried in my yard!
Are my expectations TOO low??????

Sent by Susie | 2:29 PM | 10-31-2007

I paid a 4% commission to the buyer's agent, to have them push the property with the buyers. 4% is one percent more than usual. And I also listed the price 5000 dollars under appraised value.

Sent by Luis Rosales | 2:33 PM | 10-31-2007

I suggest multible appraisals are more important than buyer/seller agent. the next big scandal will be the relationship between broker/agent/appraiser. The broker or banker calls the appraiser and "suggests" the needs of the deal. Guess what happens? If the appraiser wants to get anymore calls from these people, they know what needs to be "done"!

Sent by Mike | 2:36 PM | 10-31-2007

We almost bought in Las Vegas 3 months ago. We were about to sign the contract but decided to wait. The following week the builder cut down the price by $100,000. That just seemed crazy give there were other who bought eralier now they lost big time equity.

Sent by Giovanni | 2:36 PM | 10-31-2007

My husband and I sold our more than 100 year old Victorian house in April. We were attracted to it for the wrap-around porch and wood floors, and after we gutted and remodelded the kitchen and painted all the rooms it was gorgeous, so we weren't surprised that we had an offer within 16 days of putting up a for sale sign. Its a one of a kind, and the street its on is named after the man who built it - Valentine Berkey.

Sent by Bethany Keener | 2:37 PM | 10-31-2007

For some time, (since the dot com boom in the San Francisco bay area), I have argued with various friends and family that the local (and to a lesser degree the national) real estate market was at least equally (as supply vs demand)driven by GREED, GRANDIOSITY, and STUPIDITY. This market has been driven by realtors, banks, and mortgage brokers as well as the overall building industry to drive up prices all over and encourage buyers to take on ridiculous levels of debt (deregulation of banking and related businesses). We are a debtor nation and loving it. Until one becomes or deals with homelessness and sees a horrific impact on communities, and makes "affordable" vs market rate housing a priority nothing will change. Recall homes built post WW2 (Levitt Town)that encouraged ownership and responsible financial behavior. Too many municipalities have a vested interest in higher tax assessments to keep those property taxes coming. Enough is Enough.

Sent by donovan | 2:38 PM | 10-31-2007

I am selling a historic, late 1700's stone farmhouse with acreage in Bucks County, PA. How has the lower market affected historic homes like this?

Sent by Anne MacKenzie | 2:38 PM | 10-31-2007

buyers should realize that sellers are people too. We had a buyer who offered us a very low price. we accepted a low offer with the understanding that we won't be nickel and dimed over the inspection. The agent assured us that unless the foundation was crumbling, they would buy it. Now three weeks later, they came back asking for lots of credits for stuff that was already disclosed. We lost that time on the market and now I don't believe they won't come to closing demanding other stuff because they think we are so desparate in this market. it is just mean.

Sent by emily | 2:38 PM | 10-31-2007

As an aside to the caller talking about the high prices in Anchorage, Alaska: the prices are high there because there is very little land remaining in the city on which to build. The "bridge to nowhere" was intended to give the city room to grow into a relatively undeveloped area.

Sent by Lorene Lynn | 2:39 PM | 10-31-2007

My colleague just bought a house in Los Gatos, CA, because the owner dropped his price $200K. This was NOT a million dollar house (although there are lots of them out here), but closer to $1/2 million.

Sent by Kam Leitner | 2:40 PM | 10-31-2007

We sold our house in Concord NH after one year on the market. We started out at 10% over the city tax assessment in the summer of 2006 . WE ended selling at 57K under the city assessment. Our mistake was to get into a contract on another house based on our realtor's optimism. We tried to get out of the contract and quickly found that we were looking at a law -suit. WE are relieved that it is over and we a mortgage-free , but it was a painful experience. ST Joseph did not work for us!

Sent by Linda Billingham | 2:41 PM | 10-31-2007

As someone who has recently looked for a home I now run very fast whenever I see 'completely renovated.' In general, I saw bad to-it-yourself jobs, more oak kitchen cabinets than I ever thought existed, and cheap carpeting covering hardwood floors. I would much rather owners skipped the quick fix and priced the home accordingly. Let me do a quality renovation.

Sent by Jeanne Logan | 2:43 PM | 10-31-2007

Sellers are thinking the market is going to come back so they won't sell. Come spring '08 they are going to find the market is the same and the free fall of prices will begin as everyone panics to get out.

Sent by Tom Fischer | 2:53 PM | 10-31-2007

We sold our house during the summer of 2006, but it didn't come without a price. In the Indianapolis market, there was a lot of new construction, so there was plenty of supply, and not much demand. I buried a St. Joeseph statue the day we put it on the market and it sold within 72 hours! We lost about $10,000, but it was worth it because we needed to move fast.

Sent by Kathie | 4:59 PM | 10-31-2007

The real estate agents & brokers have had their day. Artificially inflated prices (absolutely skyrocketing in early '05 in my area) penalized the strongest buyers & sound financial planning. I have patiently awaited this turnaround & hope now that the federal reserve board won't frustrate this much-needed market correction by dashing to lower interest rates. Let the madness end!

Sent by danielle temple | 5:26 PM | 10-31-2007

My husband and I just purchased our first home in Boise, ID. While the market here is behind other cities price wise, it follows the "buyer in control" model. We were able to get a new roof, a new crawlspace, upgraded wiring, and a 1 year home warranty (among other items listed on our contingency) no questions asked. In addition, the home has been updated and looks great inside and out. Sellers are motivated here too!

Sent by Brooke Ramstad | 11:37 PM | 11-3-2007

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