Under Contract? Maybe Not For Long

Name something that characterizes today’s real estate market…

You could say it takes longer to sell houses and you’d be right.

You could say lots of listings have had to reduce their prices and you’d be right.

But you can also say that if you get a firm offer on your house, you aren’t out of the woods because a growing percentage of contracts are falling through and then the property is back on the market.

A group of us were talking about the “whys” of contracts falling apart. One factor is that we have fewer offers to choose from. When you have 10 offers, you can pick the best. When you only have one, you might have a less-qualified buyer to begin with. Another factor is that buyers are being a lot pickier about the condition of the property. More buyers are walking away from properties after the home inspection because they and the seller can’t come to agreement about the repairs that need to be done.

Sellers are having a rough time realizing that the market has changed. The seller is no longer firmly in charge. Most sellers don’t realize that their houses are not particularly better or worse than any others on the market and therefore price becomes the most important factor. Price it right and the buyers will come.

That’s more difficult than it seems because we’re beginning to chase a declining market. One rule of thumb that many agents are recommending now is to price your property 5% less than the most recent comparable sale. It’s not bad advice.

© 2006 Susan Pruden.

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