Yesterday we discussed the changes in the real estate market here in Prince George’s County. The news isn’t dismal — we are still seeing decent appreciation over last year’s market. What we are not seeing is appreciation over last month’s market. As a matter of fact, the market has remained remarkably steady over the past few months in terms of price. Where the dramatic changes are is in the number of days it takes to sell a house, the number of houses on the market, and the number of houses actually getting contracts.
So, what’s a seller to do?
Last year, a seller could decide on Wednesday to sell his house, do very little fix-up, go on the market on Thursday, and sell by the next Monday or Tuesday.
With so much more competition on the market, sellers have to be more careful than ever about the prices they’re asking and the condition of their houses.
So, 1) realize that your house is a commodity. It is worth only what the best buyer is willing to pay for it. AND THOSE BUYERS HAVE SEEN ALL OF THE COMPETITION!!! I cannot emphasize that enough. The buyers know exactly what else is on the market, the condition of those houses, how long they have been on the market, how many times the price has changed and how your house compares in all of those categories.
2) Your house, since it is going to be compared so ruthlessly to the competition, must stack up well to get the best price. This means you cannot price yourself with houses that have fabulous updated kitchens if yours was last updated in the ’70s. Buyers will look at your kitchen, assume a minimum of $20,000 to update and 1) decide that your house isn’t worth it, 2) decide that they can’t afford both your price AND the updating or 3) they’ll make a very low offer, which buyers don’t like to do. So put your best foot forward and realize that you can’t compete head to head with a house that is in better condition, is larger or is priced better.
Last time you bought a car, did you comparison shop? Did you check prices at other dealerships and look at what you got for your money? If you did it for something that costs as relatively little as a car, what makes you think that buyers aren’t doing the same thing with your house? You must price it right for the condition and for the market.
Buyers today are not feeling any pressure to make an offer. There are too many houses on the market and more coming on every day. They are, however, willing to give fair price for the value.
© 2006 Susan Pruden.