"There's so much to choose from, they can afford to
say, 'I think there's something better out there,'" says Stuart.
"They are sitting on the fence longer and waiting."
The Rev. Dr. William H. Hill and his wife searched for their upstate New York home for more than a year before closing in August. "There's a difference between trying to make a place right and having it be right for you," says Hill.
But today's homebuyers, he says, need patience. "You not only have to have some idea of what you do want, you have to see a lot of homes to determine what you don't want," he says.
The wide array of choices "made it a little tougher," says Myers. "But having that selection also made it easier because we weren't stuck."
Many buyers, recognizing that they won't be selling in the near future, are being more careful in choosing a home.
That was the case with the Myers, who expanded their price range from between $150,000 and $200,000 to $200,000-plus, once they saw that spending that extra money in the current market would buy a lot more home.
"We decided we might as well step up and look at something we'll be in a long time, rather than a short time," she says.
Some buyers credit current market conditions -- the buyer's market in many areas -- with kick-starting their home search.
Bass-fishing enthusiast Geoffrey Balog had been eyeing a home in Sebring, Fla., for the last four years. But when his wife did an online search last October, the couple noticed a "dramatic difference" in what they could get for their money, he says.
"Things that were $225,000 in that area were $150,000 to $175,000," he says. Suddenly, he says, there were "18 properties we wanted to look at."
"I said, 'Make a reservation. We're going up for two days, and I'm bringing my checkbook because we're buying a house,'" Balog says.
They settled on an 11-year-old, three-bedroom, two-bath "in beautiful condition," he says.
"It was exactly what I wanted to spend, and it was everything I wanted and more," Balog says.
Like Balog, some homebuyers are finding the current
market offer great deals. Hill and his wife negotiated to buy for
25 percent below the initial asking price.
But when Edward Seiler and his wife were shopping select neighborhoods on the Maryland side of Washington, D.C., they found out that the term "buyer's market" was relative. Seiler recalls losing one home when they showed up early for an open house, only to learn that there were already two offers. Another house on the same street sold for $42,000 above the asking price.
"The market may be dead, but this one specific neighborhood was not," says Seiler, himself a housing economist.
But a few months later, the couple closed on their own home in the same neighborhood for 10 percent less than the initial listing price.