Be Careful What You Ask For…

Our house still hasn’t sold. If only we could line up all the people in town and walk them through, pointing out all of its fabulous features…..

Because of Downtown Dad’s high profile position, he tends to know many reporters. He happened to be talking to one the other day and mentioned that we have a house for sale and even though we keep dropping the price, it is not selling. When the reporter asked ‘who’s your Realtor’ and he answered ‘my wife,’ viola – a story was born. So yesterday, while I was home catching up on my moldy laundry with my new dryer, the TV reporter called asking if I’d be interested in being interviewed since I am in the unusual position of being a Realtor with my personal home on the market. Oh, joy. This is the LAST thing I want to do, but I absolutely have to, because first and foremost, in essence it’s a 3-minute commercial for my house!

This is exactly what I hate about sales. My whole world is crashing in on me because this house has been on the market 6 months, and I have to look sincerely into a camera tomorrow morning and put a positive spin on that. I am not that good at talking out of both sides of my mouth. Herewith then, are my ramblings and propaganda jotted down mainly to psyche myself up:

Speaking as a Realtor, this is a wonderful house to have listed. It’s almost totally brand new on the inside, spacious, with a large three-room addition off the back. There is a large fully fenced, treed backyard – there is even a tree house! It is in a very desirable neighborhood, and based on comparable sales, it is priced quite reasonably. Right now, the price is very close to the appraised/assessed value of three years ago – that was before the entire kitchen was replaced, two bathrooms were remodeled, the whole interior was painted a warm bright neutral color and new flooring was installed in most of the house. They say there are three factors to consider with the sale of a home: Price, Condition, and Location. We have lowered the price; it is in perfect condition and in an excellent location. This house has it all, but it still has not sold. Even the feedback from potential buyers has been positive, which is not very helpful because there isn’t anything left I can change or do to get it sold. I look at this as a wonderful opportunity for buyers right now. The right buyer just has not walked through the door yet.

Of course, I have done all the right things for my sellers (me): open houses, marketing the home with signs, flyers, and ads in publications and on the Internet. We even have the added benefit of the Park Company Kiosk at the mall, where Park listings are displayed exclusively. Fellow Realtors who have been around longer than I have, say that historically, September has always been a slow month for home sales. They cite reasons such as; people have their kids back in school, and are getting their own heads back in to work after the lake season; the weather is cooling off; and they are just staying inside.

The rapid market we have been experiencing for the last couple of years, even up to and including this summer, has been unusual. Realtors who’ve been in the business a long time say that this is not a downturn in the housing market, but rather a return to a more normal market. There are more than 1,400 homes on the market right now as opposed to 1,200 last year at this time up nearly 15 percent. The average time on the market is somewhere between 90 and 100 days instead of 80 to 90 days last year. The inventory, or supply of houses is starting to catch up to the demand, not as much as in bigger cities, but it is starting to affect us. More sellers are putting their homes on the market, houses are selling less quickly, and prices are no longer increasing as rapidly as they were in the spring, although locally the average sales price of approximately 160,000 is up just slightly over last year.

The market is changing, so what do we do? In addition to pricing houses to align with market trends, we agents need to be creative. We need to communicate with our sellers to educate them on what is happening, so that when an offer comes in and it’s lower than expected we don’t just let them reject it. We counter back with options. We aren’t doing our buyers any favors by letting them write unreasonably low offers on a home they can’t afford, but we can work with the buyer’s lender to help negotiate a mortgage that both gets the seller a fair price, but is also within the buyer’s means.

Speaking as a homeowner with a house for sale – I am mystified. I can only reduce the price so much, so how do I attract buyers? What are they not finding in this house that they are finding in another? I have an emotional attachment to this house, so it is frustrating that it is taking so long to find a buyer. However, I am not the only one. All of the three other homes I have listed right now, in varying price ranges and locations are also experiencing this slow down with very few showings. On the bright side, I can relate when they express their frustrations – we are all in the same boat. But that still does not bring a buyer. What I do with my sellers, and my husband is that I remind them that with mortgage rates now rising, the cost of gasoline hovering near $3 a gallon and house prices in some areas of the country just plain out of reach for many families, Fargo Moorhead and the surrounding areas are still a great place to purchase a home. There are still buyers out there, Fargo Moorhead is attracting new businesses every day, and those businesses are hiring and promoting people every day. Our economy is very good. As home sellers, we just have to make sure what we are selling looks sharp, and are priced competitively. Real Estate is still a great investment. It may take a little longer than it did last year, but homes will always sell.

Ahhh…. somewhere out there, someone will watch the news and see my house and say “Look Harold, that’s the house we’ve always wanted! Lets go buy it!”

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