Recently I drove past a house that my son passes each day on his way to and from school. My son, who was in the car with me, noted that the realtor sign in the yard was different. First the home had been for sale by owner for many months. Then it had a professional realtor sign out front for half a year. Now there is a different realtor sign.
As we drove by the house, my son wondered aloud why these people can’t seem to sell their home. I responded that there were only three possible reasons: 1) they are asking too much, 2) they haven’t successfully advertised the home to realistic potential buyers, and/or 3) it’s just a lousy home (i.e. due to location, construction quality, ground water problems, etc.). Of course, all of these things basically come down to one thing: the sellers are insisting on pricing the home higher than the actual market value of the home. You can sell even a desperately awful home if the price is right.
The home in question is at least 40 years old. Its construction quality was obviously below average even when it was new. The home has had many owners over the years, but some of the recent owners have done major structural and cosmetic upgrades to the place. It looks much nicer than it ever has. The location is decent. It’s in a fine neighborhood. It doesn’t have water problems. The place has a track record of being successfully sold in the past. It has been aggressively marketed for nearly a year, and yet it does not sell.
The only possible answer is that the owners are unwilling to sell the home for the price the market will currently yield for it. I suspect (but do not know for sure) that the owners have more invested in (and/or owed on) the home than what a reasonable buyer is willing to pay for it. Perhaps they even went into the place as an investment. Many people have bought and upgraded homes to sell them for a profit. But in a declining real estate market, any gain you might have received for your efforts can quickly evaporate as market prices generally decrease.
If you are considering buying or selling a home, it certainly pays to be aware of what the real estate market is doing — especially the market in the area where the home is located. There are general national, state, and regional trends that matter. But what matters most is the market in the immediate vicinity of the home. Armed with this kind of information, you can make appropriate buying/selling decisions.
You can't make the real estate market do what you want it to do. I suppose if you're not very serious about selling, you can put a high price on your home and then wait to see if some sucker comes along that is willing to pay it. But if you're serious about selling, the only way to move your home is to price it according to market conditions.