Are Sellers Softening Up?

With the start of the home buying season just around the corner, years of low prices and dashed hopes for the long awaited housing recovery may be changing the way sellers price and prep their properties.

More than half (51 percent) of 600 agents in a recent Coldwell Banker survey reported that sellers are more willing to price their homes competitively than this time last year and 45 percent said sellers are more willing to change the appearance of their homes to entice buyers than they were one year ago.

“Within the past year, sellers were more willing to price their homes competitively and took my advice to make their home inviting and appealing to a broad cross-section of potential buyers.” said Jessica Edwards, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Consumer Specialist.

Last year, by contrast, many sellers refused to budge on their prices. One reason was the high percentage, some 22 percent of home owners with a mortgage, who owe more thantheir home is currently worth are not in a position to negotiate. Also, some sellers were willing to wait in hopes of getting a higher price.

A survey last November by Move, Inc. found that time is running out on homeowners delaying selling their home because of low prices. The survey found that the number of homeowners who delayed (17.5 percent) has not grown during this time of protracted low prices but has actually declined slightly since March 2010, suggesting the pending supply of homes is showing signs of stabilizing.

The Move survey found that more homeowners ages 35 to 49 (22 percent) and those making $40,000-49,000 a year (21 percent) compared to other respondents said they’ve delayed selling their home in the past year. This may indicate growing families in need of more space may be having a difficult time moving up as the result of today’s market conditions.

After years of low prices, more than half of all homeowners (52.2 percent) said they would be motivated to place their homes on the market by price increases in their neighborhoods. A 5 percent increase in home prices would motivate 11.7 percent owners to sell their homes. Price increases of 15 percent or less would motivate more than one quarter (26.6 percent) to put their homes on the market. Only 44.6 percent of owners said that they would not sell their home even if prices rose over 20 percent in their neighborhood.

A factor currently working in sellers’ favor is a dramatically lower number of homes for sale, which may change with spring time. The national for-sale inventory dropped by 6.59 percent in January, the eighth consecutive month of decline. The total number of listings on is now 23.20 percent below the levels observed in January 2011.

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