It's a good time to buy, but is it a good time to sell?

A new study finds that 80% think it's a good time to buy a home, but only 7.6% think it's a good time to sell — at least at current prices.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 11, 2012 10:34AM

© Comstock Images/JupiterimagesOne challenge facing prospective homebuyers is the difficulty of finding a house in a good neighborhood in good condition.


Prices continue to decline, but so does the number of homes for sale.


New research gives us one reason why: Buyers may think it's a good time to buy, but sellers don't think it's a good time to sell.


A study for the Mortgage Bankers Association's Research Institute for Housing America found that nearly 80% of Americans think it's a good time to buy, but only 7.6% think it's a good time to sell.


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The feelings of homebuyers are the same as in previous recessions, but the sentiments of sellers are different this time, Syracuse University professor Gary V. Engelhardt wrote in a special report titled "The Great Recession and Attitudes Toward Home-Buying." He writes:

What distinguishes the current recession is the dramatic decline in home-selling sentiment. From 1992 through 2005, positive home-selling sentiment fluctuated between 40% and 60%. Since 2005, sentiment has dropped precipitously, to around 7% currently, even while homebuying sentiment remains high.

Nearly two-thirds of those who expressed negative selling sentiment listed "difficulty of finding a buyer" as the reason. Engelhardt suggested that what they mean is the difficulty of finding a buyer at the price they want.

Mike Litzner, who owns Century 21 American Homes in Long Island, N.Y., says real-estate agents have to educate sellers on what price their home is really likely to fetch now. "If sellers really want to sell, they adjust their expectations to the changed realities," he told syndicated columnist Kenneth R. Harney.

If the sellers won't face reality, the agents sometimes decline the listing rather than waste time marketing a home that won't sell at the desired price.

Some agents are writing price-reduction clauses into contracts with sellers, which authorize automatic price reductions if no action occurs in the first few weeks.

Are sellers refusing to face reality? Or are they smart to keep their homes off the market now?

Jan 11, 2012 3:02PM

I'm not an economist but if demand out paces supply wouldn't prices go up?


Jan 11, 2012 2:53PM
 also think it's disgusting that most of us would consider breaking even a grand event.  What happened to our great Country?

Globalism is happening.  A race to the common bottom maybe? 

Jan 11, 2012 2:50PM
People are on the sidelines waiting to see how low prices and mortgage rates will go.  If mortgage rates go up they will ...

Ya know, some of us "on the sidelines" have no interest in "owning" a home...  Arguing with the tax assessor, weekend home improvment / maintenance projects, HOA fees, lawn mowers, insurance...  It all sounds like super big fun, but I don't know..  Realtwhores, appaisewhores, brokewhores, bankwhores...  All trying to get a piece of 2 - 4 peoples money.

Jan 11, 2012 2:42PM
I think were at least 5-7 years away from recouping most of our lost valuations (no gains). I also think it's disgusting that most of us would consider breaking even a grand event. What happened to our great Country?
Jan 11, 2012 2:17PM

Prices will start to go up as soon as mortgage rates go up!  That is my counterintuitive thought.  People are on the sidelines waiting to see how low prices and mortgage rates will go.  If mortgage rates go up they will have more pressure to jump in before they go even higher.  That increased demand will drive prices up.  Granted, the price increases will be tempered by more homes being listed so the increases in prices will be subdued until the pent-up potential sellers are taken care of and we get back to a more normal market.  For those that can buy this is the time and if they wait too long they will feel stupid when their rent is significantly higher than what their mortgage would have been.  On an inflation-adjusted basis though, I do not see home prices going to where they were in 2005/2006 for at least another 30 years because it will take a generation or two before we forget this lesson. 

Jan 11, 2012 2:12PM
@Klaus - the market is flooded with REO's.....    I just purchased a beach home for $165K - estimated value in 2008 was 450K.
Jan 11, 2012 2:07PM
MSN seemingly changes their stance on the housing market daily. I would never use these ever changing articles as a barometer for the market. Oh, and I HATE how they recycle old articles constantly. 
Jan 11, 2012 1:55PM
The realtors are not the only ones at fault.  Some governing municipalities refuse to adjust (revalue) tax ledger property values; so owners see an inflated value of their home on their tax bill.  Then an honest realtor suggests listing the property for 10/20% less, the sellers freak and back out of listing the property.  If I could sell my house in Nashville for 10% less than the tax appraisal, I'd sell in a heart beat!!
Jan 11, 2012 1:48PM

We sold our last home & bought our current home since the housing bust.  We listed our previous home in September and it sold in December.  The key was making our house look better & priced lower than other homes listed in our neighborhood.  We had to make certain we snagged a buyer vs. letting the sale go to the neigbors - home prices were still dropping.... 


Although we had a lot of initial traffic, our realtor told us that buyers were losing their bank approvals left & right.  She was actually asking them to double-check bank approval before making an offer and 9/10 had to stop looking altogether or look in a lower price range. 


Looking back over sales, our house was the only one that sold in our neighborhood during an 8 month stretch.  The other potential buyers lost their bank approvals and were out of the market...  Some of our neighbors' houses still have not sold over 2 years later.  Buyers can now get much more house for the same money and/or they are looking at different neighborhoods. 


Although house prices had dropped 20% when we sold, they dropped another 15% or more since.  Our former neighbors are now LISTING their homes for 20% less than our SALE price.


The benefit of a quick sale is that we were able to stay with a relative until prices leved-out.  We then placed a low offer on a great house & are paying only a little more for 2X the space.  We also got our real estate taxes lowered due to the low sale price.  In my opinion, timing the market was a huge benefit, but the key was selling fast at a low price.

Jan 11, 2012 1:41PM

I bought my house for $420,000 in 2005. It had to put it on the market in June of 2011 because of a job loss. It just sold for $325, it a good time to sell?? I think you can figure it out for yourself...NO!!!


Jan 11, 2012 1:34PM
Prices of homes will start to climb this year people must stop being so scare . The NEWS MEDIA are the ones who are making it look worst than it is. Wake up and smell the coffee people. You must spend to get us out of this now. I am  not saying spend millions but start to buy  and you will see it turn around fast.
Jan 11, 2012 1:33PM
I put my house on the market last year. We wanted to downsize. I know prices were dropping but it seemed like an even trade off. Its not like just my house value was was all of them. I may have to sell at lower price but it means I can buy another one at a lower price. I may give it another shot this summer
Jan 11, 2012 1:24PM
Jan 11, 2012 1:16PM

As someone "in the know"  a mortgage originator. I can say that the down state NY markets that I cover vary wildly both in how hard they were hit by the downturn and which direction they are heading now .

Many of the towns in Nassau have stabilized others are stagnant or still moving down. Parts of Brooklyn are seeing bidding wars both for new construction and resale while other areas have not seen any moment other than REO sales.

Whether you are selling or looking to buy it is very important base your decisions on information that is as local as possible rather than taking cues from articles that look at very general/national trends.    

Jan 11, 2012 12:43PM
We are building a new house and the timing couldn't have been better.  We listed out house on Thanksgiving and sold by Christmas. We paid 155.5K 7 years ago, and sold for 149k. While that is not so great, the new house we are building is cheaper than what it would have cost 7 years ago. Couple that with all-time low interest rates and it's a win-win. We definitely did all of the recommended staging and it worked. We got a storage unit and put all of that crap away. I'm talking about having 4 plates, 6 or 7 forks, etc...
Jan 11, 2012 12:36PM
Why sell now when the prices are only going to increase from here.
Jan 11, 2012 12:34PM

I bought and sold during this time period and did quite well.  However, we did not use a bank and selected a CPA who had a real estate license to do the paperwork as our realtor.  The problem now facing most sellers is that the replacement cost of their homes is much less than the listing price.  In most cases, it is not even realistic for newer homes.  Therefore, you would have to be an idiot to list your house for sale unless it was absolutely necessary.  As for realtors and the problems they face with a listing; I could care less.  I have not met a realtor yet that was not responsible for the mess this country now faces.  Of course, nothing is absolute so there is probably a small percentage that service their clients and do an excellent job.  The rest are totally worthless and are capable of nothing more than a concierge.  I know of dozens of so-call real estate professionals who now are upside down in their homes because of their stupidity and greed.  They thought they were so smart flipping houses and walking away with thousands of dollars on inflated properties.  The longer the housing market stays like this forces them to go out and get a real job.  Why the American public invests so little time and effort in doing their own research on what is probably the most expensive purchase in their budget continues to baffle me. 


When a purchase price is attached to the marketing of a house we will always have inflated prices.  I am waiting for the internet and other services to replace the need to use a real estate agent.  When I learned that some states now have laws that basically make it impossible to sue your agent, I think it is about time that we stop using real estate agents.  We demanded that our buyers be pre-qualified and we stated that we would not consider any contingency offers.  Despite our attempts to be perfectly clear and let our expectations be known - we still had showing after showing with unqualified buyers.  This article does not really address the real problems faced by both sellers and buyers of real estate today.  Truth be told there is really very little property available to buy because of this economy.  The foreclosures and garbage on the market have completely clouded any good inventory.  I know, I have spent the last three or four years looking and the same properties are still sitting there.  Meanwhile, you will see a recent listing sell quickly because the price and location match everyone's expectations.  Who wants to buy a foreclosure or short sale when the previous owner's purchase price was totally erroneous and should have been rejected in the first place?!  Of course, you have unrealistic expectations from the sellers.  The houses they purchased were in most cases never worth even close to what they paid for them.  Who in the world buys a house for a million dollars in a neighborhood of $300K or $400K houses?!  Some real estate professional was able to convince homeowner after homeowner that these properties had true value. Today, they sit with a huge mortgage and no buyers.  So this is supposed to be a surprise?  

Jan 11, 2012 12:21PM

I think the real reason people are not putting their homes up for sale is because most people are upside down in the mortages and can not sell for less. As long as they still have a job and can still make the payments, they are just staying where they are, hoping the marketing will go up. I had 20% equity in my home, but would now have to bring money to the table in order to sell.


Jan 11, 2012 12:17PM

We have tried to sell our home twice during the past 3 years and ended up taking it off the market both times. Both times we listed it at the market price the real estate agent recommended. The second time we actually sold our home only to have the buyers back out 5 days before closing. We have since decided to stay in our home for the next couple of years or so. There is so much negative print about house prices declining, etc. I wonder what would happen if someone in the know, like Barbara Corcoran, would write an article about how the market has stabilized and actually prices rising in most areas. Everyone goes by what's in the media. Do you think this idea might work? Certainly couldn't hurt.


We are senior citizens and are from the generation that thought that the profit out of selling your home in retirement would be added to your assets. That is not the case anymore, so this is not the time for us to sell. Someday, but not now.

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