I picked up this article off of The Housing Bubble this morning and thought it was worthy of a blog post. This is probably the least rosy depiction of the local real estate market I have seen from any of our local MSM outlets in the past few years.
Selling a house? What to do now
With plenty of homes on the market, sellers must slash prices and dress up their properties.
By Debra Smith
Real estate agent Teresa Sifferman ticks off the virtues of an Everett home she is trying to sell: the cathedral entryway, the chef’s kitchen, the big yard, the designer colors, the coffered ceilings in the formal dining room.
A year ago, this squeaky-clean home probably would have garnered multiple offers and a quick sale at the original $469,000 asking price.
Now it’s a different story.
The home has lingered on the market for more than two months, even after the real estate agent dropped the asking price three times, a reduction of $40,000.
Sifferman, who ran an advertising agency for 15 years, is trying every trick in her marketing repertoire to get some potential buyers in the door, including holding open houses with doughnuts, coffee and root beer floats before and after school to entice parents driving by.
She’s generated interest, but no offers so far.
“Sellers are getting panicky, slashing prices and taking lower offers — that’s what I’m seeing in Snohomish County,” said Sifferman, an agent at Prudential MacPherson’s Real Estate in Lynnwood. “At our weekly sales meetings agents are saying open houses are dead, buyers aren’t showing up.”
Welcome to a buyer’s market in Snohomish County, a place with ample choices and more negotiating clout for buyers and a reality check for sellers expecting quick, easy sales at top prices.
“Two and three years ago, the sales prices used to be the starting point. Now it’s the ending point,” said Nathan Gorton, executive officer for the Snohomish County-Camano Association of Realtors.
The change in the market isn’t a meltdown — it’s a return to normalcy after a blistering hot market, he said. In Snohomish County, home values are still going up, just not at double-digit rates. The median priced home and condominiums in the county gained 3 percent to 6 percent from this same time last year, he said.
Single-family homes alone gained about 2.6 percent in value in the county from this September to last, while condominiums appreciated about 9 percent, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which keeps sales data.
Inventory has swelled from this time last year — it’s up more than 50 percent countywide and 71 percent in Everett and Mukilteo, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Inventory is up partly because a boom in new construction outstripped demand, Gorton said. And even though Washington ranks 49th of the 50 states in foreclosures, buyers are still skittish.
“The subprime mortgage crisis didn’t really affect us directly but it affected us psychologically,” he said. “Buyers are sitting on the sidelines worried about subprime problems.”
Homes are sitting on the market longer and sellers are hiring professional stagers.
Jan Sewell, a professional stager based in Seattle, said she is booked six weeks in advance and she is so busy right now her 15,000-square-foot warehouse is nearly empty of furniture and accessories.
“We’re doing as much as I can,” she said. “I’m so busy, I’m running out of inventory.”