Home sellers take note: Buyers are
gaining more leverage.
In many real estate markets during the
last three years, sellers have wielded more power than
buyers. That's still the case, but now buyers are choosier,
homes are staying on the market longer, and prices aren't
rising as quickly as they once did.
"It's a seller's market transitioning
to a buyer's market," says David Lereah, chief
economist for the National Association of Realtors.
Sellers are reluctant to drop their asking prices, but
a lot of them might have to "because the buyers
now have a little more control, a little more power."
|Here are tips for
the homeowner who is selling in a market where
buyers are gaining clout:
for selling in a shifting market
Accept that the market will set the sale terms. Don't
take it personally if you don't get the price you expected.
"The big thing is you've got to accept
what the market is, and make the most of it," says
Jeff Lyons, general manager of RealEstate.com. "It
doesn't have anything to do with you personally; it
has to do with the market."
He advises sellers not to expect an extension
of the supersonic price appreciation that some markets
saw in the last couple of years. As Lyons puts it, you're
just going to feel frustrated if you think, "last
year, everyone's house was worth 20 percent more than
the year before, so why isn't my house worth 20 percent
more this year?"
Lyons adds: "You're going to want
to prepare to be flexible."
Luckily, you can be flexible on things
besides price. The move-in date, for example. "If
it helps you sell more quickly by moving out earlier
than you want, that's a good thing," Lyons says.
"You never know what people might want to do to
make it convenient for them. If the buyer wants something
that isn't hard for you to give, that's something in
Maybe the buyer wants to store furniture
in your garage before moving in or wants to make the
purchase contingent on selling his or her own house.
If you have flexibility, you have an edge.
ready for picky buyers
Every real estate agent will tell you to improve the
appeal. It's even more important when buyers feel
that they can afford to be picky.
In a transition from a seller's to a buyer's
market, buyers "become much more sensitive to things
like dated light fixtures," says David Kerr, agent
for ZipRealty's office in Oakland, Calif. "When
you walk in and the house has that 1970s amber light
fixture, they'll say, 'This house looks old,' and walk
out. It's easy and inexpensive to replace that light
over the dining room table."
Kerr isn't talking only about lights.
Stained carpets, scuffed hardwood floors, dripping sinks,
torn window screens -- most of us live with flaws in
our homes that we intend to fix eventually. When you
put your home on the market, that day has arrived.
"You really need to look at making
repairs that are profitable in terms of selling the
house," Kerr says. He gives this example of choosing
your priorities: If your hot tub isn't quite functioning
properly and the bathroom has old, stained cabinets
with ornate pulls on the doors, fix up the bathroom
first. "They want to see that pedestal sink,"
Kerr says. If the choice is between replacing the refrigerator
and refacing ugly kitchen cabinets, spruce up the cabinets.