Profile picture for Katie_C

Are homeowners unrealistic about their selling price?

We here at Zillow just conducted a survey that showed about half of U.S. homeowners think their home's value has either increased or stayed the same over the past year. According to Q3 preliminary data, that's just not true; 74% of homes have dropped in value.

Do you run into this type of sentiment when advising sellers? Is it difficult to get them to set a realistic price for their home? How do you convince a stubborn seller to set the correct price?

  • October 29 2008 - US
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Answers (42)

Sellers usually have an opinion of their homes value that has no relationship to market value. If they have lived in it for decades, I find they usually undervalue their house. If they have something they want to buy when they sell it, the value corresponds to that purchase and not the market value.

 

The best tool I have found for checking expectations is to not just print out what else is comparable on the market , but to drive them around and have them go inside. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to think "huh, this house is a lot nicer than mine, is priced about 10k under what I was thinking of listing at and hasn't sold in 200 days".

  • October 29 2008
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Katie - yes most sellers are very unrealistic about their homes value, or they still see the value as what it was 2-3 years ago.  They are often shocked at what the Comparative Market Analysis shows their home to be worth.  If the seller bought the home in the last 5 years, often they are not going to list or will face a short sale situation.  However if they've been in the home a long time, they still have equity and can sell, albeit not as much as they hoped. 

 

I love Zillow but the biggest problem I have is the Zestimate - it misleads homesellers.  For example, it says my home is worth $50K more than it actually is in today's market, and is not showing recent comps from foreclosures & short sales which have greatly affected values. 

  • October 29 2008
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Profile picture for clvngodess
I think it depends on the market itself and the marketer as well. In today's world, in most metropolitan and urban areas we do have the internet folks. In that comes this wonderful tool called virtual tours where the viewer can look inside for themselves to see what's out there. And remember, WE the buyer or the seller can get comps with or without you dear agent and reliably.

After the past 6 years of market gluttony, it's been a hard comeuppance for many home sellers, but with the economy the way it is currently, I think many homesellers are far more pragmatic than you give them credit for.
  • October 30 2008
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Profile picture for Tony Vacc

Unrealistic seller example in Aurora, OH:  Seller bought home in June 2003 for $760,000, has not changed or updated anything (in fact same paint, carpeting, appliances as original owner {built in 1998}.  House was on market less than 30 days and asking price was $780,000, so current seller may have overpaid in 2003 when market was hotter than today.

Put home on market at $880,000.  CS Index for high tier homes went from 113.27 to 111.94.  So if anything value is down slightly & clearly not up 15.8%.

House is still on the market.

  • October 30 2008
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That is a great reply. Action does speak louder than words. Maybe I will try it.

  • October 30 2008
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Profile picture for DebOnTheWeb

Maybe it's my location (5 miles north of Boston) but I'm finding that many of the sellers I'm working with are pretty well educated about what's been going on in the market.  I actually had a seller this summer who thought my asking price was too high for her house.  It was the first time in a while that I had to show a seller comparables to convince them to list the house for higher than what they wanted.  (We ended up with multiple offers.)

  • October 30 2008
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As a Real Estate Appraiser, most people are expecting the worst in regards to the value of their home.  The media has painted a devastating picture of the real estate market.  What homeowners need to remember is, the media reports on a "national" level as opposed to a "regional" level.  Many cities have seen inflated values due to speculators and/or investors, and these are the areas that are experiencing the largest decreases in market values.  There are many towns that have prices that have been stable.  It really does depend on the specific market.

 

While the internet does provide interior pictures and virtual tours of homes, one must remember, that the MLS and the internet are advertising tools.  These pictures/virtual tours are only going to show you the good stuff.  You won't see the junk yard next door, or the pet stains/odors.  And let's not forget that we have all seen beautiful homes on the market for months, for no other reason than it was not priced accurately.  Pricing your home accordingly is "priceless".  Reliance on your local Real Estate Appraiser and Realtor is invaluable.

 

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  • October 30 2008
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My experience is that seller's somehow think the market does not apply to their home. If I list a home where the seller is not being realistic - I make sure we have an agreed upon strategy to lower price after a set amount of time. This strategy works well because it allows the seller to learn first hand how brutal the market is and it shows buyers that this seller is ready to negotiate once they lower the price. In working with buyers I find that they are looking for two things, 1. homes that have been on the market for a long time and 2. homes that have had one or more price reductions.

  • October 30 2008
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I definitely have to agree that a lot of sellers do not look at the current value of their home objectively.  There does seem to be a double standard between the neighbors home value and their own.  While that is understandable due to the emotional involvement, it is still surprising at this stage of the game.  I refuse to mislead a seller about what they can reasonably expect in the way of traffic and time on market relative to their pricing strategy.  When I commit to listing a home for a year, I know I will be answering to them if I do not adjust and react to changing market conditions, and attempt to put and keep them in the best possible position.  It is a hard job, but what we have been hired to do.  Foreclosure is especially swift in my state, and I do my best to help my sellers face the reality of that possibility and avoid it.

  • October 30 2008
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Based on the statistics I have looked at and the numbers I have run, the Albuquerque Real Estate market has done ok (relative to the rest of the country). He have definitely seen some pull back in prices this year but it has not been huge. It’s taken a while but most people understand that last years price will not be this years price. 

 

One interesting thing I have noticed… most sellers feel that the market will improve going into next spring and summer, but most buyers feel the prices are going to go lower.  History will be the judge.

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There has been slippage over the last two years and local media coverage in the last year.  Most of the sellers I deal with understand that their has dropped in value and are honest enough to admit that they don't know where the market value currently is.  Sellers are relying heavilly on trusted Realtors opinions of value.  And I often recommend an appraisal.  A value is just a snapshot of the current market.  Old appraisals don't carry weight as the market is changing rapidly.

  • October 30 2008
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I just recently sold my house for $324,000. My neighbor with an almost identical house sold theirs for $407,000 in 2005. I am in the mortgage industry in the midwest and thought I got a fair price. Remember you house is worth what someone will pay, not what you want.

  • October 30 2008
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What I've been seeing in the North Metro Atlanta area is that home sellers have inaccurate information on what a home in the neighborhood has sold for.  They think it's sold for asking price (before it was reduced 3 times) and/or don't figure in seller concessions like closing costs. They will also tell me things like, "Oh, that it was a distress sale and they just gave it away.  That might be, but if that is what others are willing to take, it can affect the value of their home too.  

 

Probably the main problem I face in helping sellers price their home in today's market is their reluctance to do the things they need to do to be able to get anywhere close to what they are wanting to sell their home for.    If a seller is not willing to take down outdated wallpaper, replace buckled and/or worn carpet, replace outdated light fixtures, or spruce up their curb appeal they are not serious about selling their house or they will have to accept a low ball offer.  

 

There are definitely stages that sellers go through in selling their home:

1.  Denial- they have sold homes in the past and been succesful in selling all of them (usually by owner) in a week's time at full price. 

2.  Anger - why hasn't my agent sold my house yet or I'll just have to wait for the right buyer to come along who will pay "fair market value".  I refuse to give in to these low ball offers!  My house is worth more!

3.  Embarrassment - why isn't anyone choosing my house?

4.  Desperation -  Drop the price to a really low price or finally do the things that they should have done at the start to bring their home up to speed.

5.  Acceptance - Hindsight is 20/20 and if they could go back and do the things recommended to start with (price it right and/or update), they could have saved a lot of frustration and time.

  • October 30 2008
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Market value in the Park Slope, Brooklyn area had jumped extremely high in the last few years, now it seems to have stabilized, if not dropped 5% or so....but was it just unrealistic recently, and is now dealing with the actual value? FYI prices went from $70,000 in early '80s to $1.3 M in early 2000s...for UNRENOVATED brownstones.

  • October 30 2008
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Here in the Foreclosure Capital of California (Lancaster/Palmdale in north Los Angeles County), most homeowners are in shock about what their home is worth based on CMAs. Our MLS is currently running at about 85% foreclosure and shortsale listings as compared to owner-occupied "regular" listings. In our area, only the desparate are selling, everyone else is trying to hang on until prices stabilize and begin rising again. On the buying side, there are some great bargains on really great homes out here, $60-$100/sq ft.  I am in escrow with a foreclosed 1989 built home on a cul de sac, 1966 sq ft, with a new pool on a 12,000 sq ft lot for $159,000... 3 years ago it sold for $356,000! My point here is that every market is different and has its own specific challenges. It is in the buyers or sellers best interest to talk to a local Realtor(R) who knows what is going on to guide them through the process. Online CMAs are mostly just wrong for various reasons, and it is so much better to get a LOCAL professional to run one for you - our data is certainly more accurate! In California it's free, so what do you have to lose?? It is far better to price your property realistically than to "chase the market down" and lose more and more value every month it is on the market. Bottom line: Local markets may differ from national, state and even regional stats. Talk to a local Realtor(R), we know YOUR market!

  • October 30 2008
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Profile picture for geordy

@clvngodess &  Maureen Fox:

The virtual tours are certainly a nice tool but I have all but stopped using them entirely.  People seem to make up their minds about the property before even coming out to look at it.  There is a lot of "feel" in a property that cannot be captured in any amount of pictures.  Also, the older style virtual tours with the 360 degree shots I find to be very detrimental.  Everything tends to look skewed and it's nearly impossible to light up the space properly to capture the scene.

 

The best tool as always is like  TiffanyBond said, just take them out in your car and show them the comps. 

I do think my area, Seattle, hasn't been hit quite as hard as other locations like Vegas and California but there are still plenty of sellers asking 2006 prices.  Seems like everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop on this election before they make any decisions.  Luckily that's coming up soon so we'll see.  Also, the feds are coming out with some amazing new financing products to try to curb some of these foreclosures from sitting empty.  Any of you agents out there need to update yourselves with your mortgage broker/banker right away if you have not already done so.  There is a new rural FHA derivative that allows near 100% financing and a program for buying HUD foreclosures for $100 down!!!  

 

It is at least partially up to us to help turn this market around a bit or soften the blow where we can.  If we have a negative attitude and going around moping about it, clients certainly will tighten their pocketbooks but there is always a bright side to everything.  Perhaps that first time home buyer you were working with in 2006 got priced out of the market or kept losing deals...  Time to talk to that person again and make something happen.

  • October 30 2008
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Some sellers are living in the past, not wanting to accept that this is todays market, not a market of any previous years. Originating Loans are more difficult, appraisers are being more conservative on their evaluations, and buyers know they have an advantage. So as a real estate professional, one must educate them. Bring them up to speed on homesale within the last 3 months and only go back to 6 if you have no other comps. Be honest about the condition of the property. Is it truly ready to move in? Tour the competition. Do all that you can do to educate them about what really is affecting the value of the homes in the neighborhood and help them arrive at a price that will really put an emphasis on the value of their home.

  • October 30 2008
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I live in the Nashville area and have shown seller clients statistics that show 1) number of sales is down approximately 25%, 2) number of listings has grown so that "inventory" is out at least two years, and 3) square footage prices are relatively stable.

 

While buyers have practically dried up in the $200K+ range, first-time homebuyers are still out there looking for homes, and the money is available via THDA loans!  I've had to refocus my business on foreclosure listings and lower-end listings in order to make ends meet in my business.

 

Many people that you talk to here think that the market will slowly rebound, but not until after the election.  Keep hope and pray that our Wall Street experts see the same picture!

  • October 30 2008
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I am both a realtor and a certified appraiser in Westchester County, New York.  Sellers that are motivated to sell are far more realistic.  These sellers are pricing ahead of the market and are able to sell.  The sellers that are not motivated are overpricing their homes in hopes that the market will turn around.  These sellers are chasing the market and have the "you never know I may get my price" mentality.   In today's market, you have to price to be competitive not to be negotiable.    Presently, Westchester County has seen a 6% drop in sales prices and has about 5 months of inventory.  Westchester has held up pretty well during this economic crisis.  Within chaos comes opportunity and there are truly great buying opportunities throughout the county.    For the sellers out there that need to sell, the future will not get any brighter anytime soon.  If you need to sell, price to compete.   

  • October 30 2008
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It is true some sellers are in denial ,however, most buyers are being unrealist even when are homes is significanly reduced to an acceptable price they still want more and more.Some

offers are  $100,000 under asking price in some of the most desirable areas. They are listening tonewscasters who are generalizing over the entire country & are not considering the locations or comps. My motto is everything is negotiable in this market . People need to get off the fence &

realize this is a great opportunity to purchase a home at a good price with realistic  rates.

When I bought my home in 1973 .We needed to put 25% down and the rate was 7.5%..& we had excellent credit. Zillow estimates often do not reflect true value of homes size, upgrades &

condition.or age of home.or a disaster induced sale. Unfair disadvantage to newer spot built homes that are in older neighborhoods.

  • October 30 2008
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It is negative news like this that feeds the market and makes it worse! Why don't you publicise how there were more sales last month and how home sales have INCREASED instead of feeding people with negative news all the time!!If the Real Estate industry wants the market to get better and be more positive,then there has to be more positive news introduced to the public instead of the constant feeding of negative news!

                                                           Thank You,

                                                             Mark McFarland

                                                                Windermere South Inc. Puyallup,Wa.

  • October 30 2008
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Hey everyone I’m new to the business. With a year of experience I have only sold one home. When people ask me why I got in this market, even though I know what it's like, I stay positive. You are right on target with this post. As much as you try to show them data after data, they still resist on pricing their home for the current market condition. In Illinois, total home sales are down almost 9% from last year. They are very motivated in the beginning when listing it very high. After they notice no showings are being held at their property, and we reduce then price. They start getting more traffic. That's when they realize their property is listed higher then market value. Remember, we make the market, and only we can change it! Stay positive everyone and good luck....

  • October 30 2008
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Here in Dutchess County NY our market is down significantly.  Sellers are having difficulties pricing their homes in this market and worse, realtors are allowing sellers to overprice the home relative to market condtions.  I have actually not taken listings if the sellers are unrealistic.   In these cases it is often better to be the second realtor in the door after the listing expires, because sellers have been exposed to the market and are much more cognizant of what the buying public is willing to do.  As a side note sellers and realtors should be advised not to be offended by low offers, it is simply a byproduct of the market and counter productive to negotiations.

  • October 30 2008
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Ack....gag me Puyallup! If you want happy all the time "do" the fair.

 

Being honest with our clients in good and bad is what builds credibility. The reality is people should buy and sell when it is right for them, part of that decision is market forces. Misleading buyers by not explaining market forces does no one favors. The market is not down because everyone says it is down. It is down for a variety of factors including lending being tight, economic uncertainty, the gap between wages and house price points, etc.

 

Your market is going to dip further before it pops back up. That isn't to say people will not buy and sell during that period. You want clients that work with you in good times and bad? Treat the relationship like a marriage, not casual dating; have fun with the fun parts and be very honest regarding the important parts (both good and bad).

  • October 30 2008
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We are finding for the most part that the sellers we interview with are very informed about the current market conditions. We are very honest with them and provide them with historic data from the past couple of years to show them in black and white the declining prices in their area. We are also finding that the homes that are selling are the ones that the homeowners have upgraded to meet current buyer expectations. On average our clients are getting 95% to 97% of their asking price.

  • October 30 2008
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Ours is a vacation/2nd home market, so it's a little bit different.  Many sellers don't have to sell, and so they put a line in the water and see if they can catch a buyer.  Seventy-five percent of our buyers are from out of area, and they come with the expectation that they'll find a lot of bargains in our resort market.  They base that on depressed values in their home markets.  There ARE some bargains to be had, that's true.  But sometimes buyers' expectations are that they can make lowball offers against any listing, and they become disappointed when rejected.  They believe the sellers are being unreasonable.  Or just plain crazy!

 

If a seller in our market must sell, we do try to show them how the market has changed, and what price position would be most effective for their particular home.  We also try to ready them for low offers that might come, so that they'll just see it as market dynamics rather than take it personally.  But, in any market, good or bad, correct pricing is the key to success. 

 

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  • October 30 2008
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zillow, don't worry. This downturn will kick into overdrive in the next six months, and denial will end.

  • October 30 2008
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I agree with Real Realtors from Arizona.  We have the same market and the same results and issues.  Buyers want to lowball thinking everyone is desparate.  Sellers still think top dollar is possible and get very offended by the lowballs, even after they have been warned they will occur.  Many of our owners are in a rental program, retired or nearly so, have a full time residence that is usually paid for or nearly so, so they can ride the tide until the market changes.  We encourage them not to go into the market if they don't really need to sell-not a good time to just fish  when so many others really need to sell if they didn't buy well.

Judy Aselton              Century 21 In The Mountains                         Blue Ridge, Ga.

  • October 30 2008
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I think alot of people don't understand how bad the market changed but also Zillow is way off by not taking into consideration of comparables to whether the home is in excellent & mint condition and a vandalized bank owned home.  Their comparables are very misleading

  • October 30 2008
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I think a lot of sellers are realistic, but many still have the mentality of let's start high and take a chance. It's very difficult to make them understand that if they price it right to begin with they will ultimately net more for their home in a much shorter time with less aggravation. I give them the analogy of another commodity...stocks. It's only worth what it's worth when you go to sell it. Woulda, coulda, shoulda!

  • October 31 2008
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