Getting Back In The Game

If at first, you didn’t succeed, should you try again?

Some sellers got discouraged during the depths of the downturn and took their homes off the market. Now, Gus Grizzard, an agent with ERA in Leesburg, Fla., is giving them a call to see if they are ready to give it another shot.

But he’s only making that argument to certain owners. “We have a critically low inventory of properties $150,000 and under,” Grizzard says.

Indeed, while many experts are pronouncing that it’s a good time to buy, they don’t make a similarly sweeping recommendation on the optimum time to sell.

That’s reflected in consumer attitudes. The consumer sentiment gauging whether it’s a good time to buy has rebounded, according to an index calculated by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan. But the index on home selling conditions is still stuck in the doldrums.

Grizzard says that a homeowner should consider selling if there were a relatively low number of similar homes currently for sale in his/her specific market. Another good sign is if the last few comparable sales showed price stability or a gradual uptick. All those conditions fit the lower end of the market in his central Florida area, he adds.

“Some sellers are waiting until the spring,” says Michele Silverman Bedell, principal of Silversons Realty, Scarsdale, N.Y. While that’s the traditional peak season, “Selling a home in any season is usually a function of price and the amount of competition in the market and the number of buyers.”

Ask an agent for “concrete” data on inventory and price trends, suggests Susan Camiliere of RE/MAX Central, Roselle, Ill. “Then don’t listen to what you want to hear, listen to what is real.”

Here, how successful selling hinges on realty realism:

Less Pain

“In recent years, as prices fell in many markets… many were faced with the prospect of selling for less than they paid,” says Justin Sydnor, assistant professor in the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

“We know from research in behavioral economics that those types of perceived losses are very painful – we call this ‘loss aversion,’” he says.

Now, owners are able to accept lower values because time has allowed them to “adjust their expectations,” Sydnor explains.

Big Picture

The loss aversion may also have been exaggerated, Sydnor adds, because sellers tend to focus on a single reference point – like the price they paid.

With time, he adds, more homeowners think of their home’s value in context with other parts of their financial lives.

That’s just what Mike Litzner, of Century 21 American Homes, East Meadow, N.Y., says he’s observing. “People are realizing they’re making up the loss on their new home, since they’re getting that for less [than boom year prices] too.”

Sellers are also weighing the costs of not moving, Camiliere says. Downsizing, for example, might eliminate paying expensive mortgage and maintenance bills, she explains. Then, there’s the cost of lost opportunities. “Maybe you’d like to move to be closer to your grandchildren, and they’re growing up.”

Best Effort

It’s not just price that second-time-around sellers are changing their attitudes about, Camiliere says.

She takes note of the comments that prospective buyers make and informs the sellers. Now, sellers are more amenable to making changes based on those reactions.

It may not be easy to take down wallpaper you love or repaint a room, but sellers who want to be successful this time are determined, she says.

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