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How A Seller Can Succeed In A Buyer's Market

Feb 10, 2008
If you lived in or visited central Florida three or four years ago, you would have had a front row seat during one of the wildest real estate markets imaginable.

It was a seller's dream that was significantly impacted by a previous period of stock and 401k losses that many suffered during that time.

As more and more people lost money on their investments, the lure of possibly making fast money in real estate brought out the experienced and inexperienced investors in droves. The inventory of available homes for sale could not keep up with the unquenchable thirst of the buying public.

It didn't take long for sellers to realize that not only were pristine homes selling quickly, but the more dilapidated and stinky a house was, the more profit there was to make by an investor buying and quickly reselling after making a few improvements.

The typical relocating buyer or family was often beaten to the punch in making a purchase offer, because quick acting investors were first on site as soon as the property went on the market.

When a new development was offered at the typically lower pre-construction prices, a whole crowd of people might show up the first day. Some would even purchase multiple sites to sell off later at inflated prices.

It became a period when a seller could practically pull a number out of a hat as their list price. Even so, interested buyers might find themselves in a bidding war, much to the delight of the seller.

The homeowner could often forgo the common repairs and upgrades that might make the house more appealing; there were too many willing buyers in competition for any house on the market.

To make this period even sweeter, interest rates on home mortgages were the lowest they'd been in years. Lenders got creative with the wide variety of loan packages and almost anyone who could sign their name on the dotted line could get approved and move into their dream home, which was often way beyond their means.

Meanwhile, the proverbial dark cloud was forming. Home values became inflated, which meant higher property taxes. Insurance companies went unchecked in raising premium rates or even canceling policies. The cost of building and home repair supplies was increasing as well as the cost of utilities, gasoline and food.

As time went by, people who purchased homes with adjustable rate mortgages and interest only mortgages found the changing interest rates now raised their monthly house payment beyond their means to pay.

As the real estate market slowed, some investors found themselves with multiple properties still in their possession. Turning them into rentals would not cover their expenses and the market was too slow to sell for a profit. Payback time had arrived.

Market forecasters are already predicting a continued downturn in sales for 2008. Slow sales continue to create and maintain an extremely high inventory of available properties.

However, some sellers cannot believe the gold rush is over and start out listing their house or condominium way too high. It's not unusual to have a property on the market over a year or longer.

Surprisingly, it can be difficult convincing a stubborn seller to reduce an unrealistic list price, even as they see their maintenance costs continuing to rise.

With fewer qualified buyers, homeowners certainly have their work cut out for them and some hard choices to make. All the negatives of the property should be evaluated and then determine which items can be repaired or updated.

It may not be feasible to completely tear out an old kitchen or bath, but you can improve appearances by replacing fixtures, removing clutter and scrubbing areas until they shine. A fresh coat of paint also does wonders.

It is generally believed that in a slowing real estate market condominiums are usually the first and hardest hit. We've certainly seen that in recent years. Almost every community saw over-development of new condominium construction and older rental structures being refurbished into condo units.

Even the highly desirable ocean front condos experienced a drastic decrease in sales. It's not uncommon to see a list price reduced, reduced, and reduced again.

With so many new and resale homes available on the market, in almost every price range, buyers have become more selective in making their final decision. Many buyers today only want to look at homes they perceive to be move in ready, with clean, working appliances, a relatively new roof, heat, and air conditioning.

Houses in the same price range, but with even the slightest blemish, may be quickly put on the discard list. Because of this more sellers are willing to consider all offers, even unrealistic ones, to see if there can be some further negotiation or concessions in order to come to agreeable terms.

When selling your home becomes a real need, not just an option, keep in mind that all other nearby homes for sale are in fierce competition for qualified buyers. You'll want to create the sparkling gem that will draw the largest number of interested buyers.

Be realistic! If you have a strong reason or desire to move, make improvements on your property and price accordingly, not for pie-in-the-sky-profit.

Copyright (C) 2008 by Susan Bicksler, all rights reserved.
About the Author
As a professional real estate sales associate, property investor, and past condominium association president, Susan Bicksler gained experience and insight into the world of sellers and buyers. For tips and the inside scoop visit Condo Info Live today for a special offer.
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