April 19th, 2011 7:22 AM by Lehel S.
Ever since the housing market hit the arc of its swan dive, real estate agents complained — sometimes quietly, sometimes not — that home sellers were hurting themselves by not recognizing that the glowing prices that buyers were willing to pay during the boom were long gone.By some accounts, this great disconnect — between sellers' nostalgia for the real estate market of only a few years ago and the disappointing reality of today — has been resolving itself in the past year. At least, that's the storyline of recent anecdotal news reports from around the country, which have suggested sellers seem finally to have bitten the pricing bullet and are moving asking prices to realistic market levels at a much quicker pace — thus, helping themselves get to "sold" status faster and possibly inching the housing recession toward its long-awaited cure.So, is it true? Have sellers "seen the light" and started pricing their homes realistically from the get-go?Not really, according to Louis Cammarosano, general manager of HomeGain, which provides online marketing services for real estate agents. His company's most recent quarterly survey of 750 real estate agents and 1,600 consumers found that a vast majority of consumers believe their homes are worth significantly more than their real estate agents have suggested.
And homebuyers? They think that what they're seeing out there in the market is still priced too high, Cammarosano said.His observations about the market mindset, based on the first-quarter 2011 survey by HomeGain (a unit of Classified Ventures, which is partly owned by Tribune Co.):Q. So, your data concludes that buyers, sellers and real estate agents are still trying to resolve this uncomfortable pricing dance?A. Yes. Of the agents we surveyed, 76 percent of homeowners (they represented) believe their homes are worth more than the recommended agent listing price.And overall, 69 percent of the buyers still think that homes on the market are overpriced. About one-third of them thought the homes were overpriced by less than 10 percent, but almost the same number said the homes were overpriced by 10 to 20 percent.The buyers have been told there's a bargain on every corner, so of course, they're always looking for a better bargain. Some sellers are, indeed, engaged in wishful thinking, but many of them are in a hole — they need to get that price or they're going to end up in a short sale or a foreclosure.Q. What's the pricing outcome — the difference between their final asking price and the amount the seller pays?A. About 58 percent of the agents told us that difference was between 5 percent and 10 percent.Q. Where do the agents and consumers think their local home-sale prices are headed?A. Most of them think prices are going to decrease or stay the same through the middle of the year. ... There was some improvement in price optimism among the agents — 17 percent expect U.S. home values to increase in the next six months, up from 12 percent in the last quarter.Q. It's been a year since the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers went away. Are they still in the market?A. Not much. We asked the agents: In the past three months, how many of your clients were first-time buyers? About a third of them said 1 to 10 percent of their clients were first-timers. A year ago in our survey, it was close to 20 percent. There's no incentive for them to buy now. I also think this is a demographic change. First-timers tend to be younger, and many of them are looking at homebuying as a mistake because they see the foreclosure impact.We asked the agents to include comments in the survey, and agents said they were seeing first-time buyers having trouble getting loans, and that constant changes to lending rules and requirements were making it very frustrating for them.