Price Your Home in Changing Market

24 04 2006

Spring is typically the busiest time of the year for home sales. But with mortgage rates rising and sales slowing, selling a home in many areas of the nation has become a challenge.

In February, there were 3.03 million previously owned homes for sale, a level not seen since 1991, when 1.91 million homes were up for sale, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The tempered pace of home sales in recent months follows record years of activity – 7.982 million homes sold in 2004, followed by a record 8.35 million in 2005 — that saw bidding wars and a steady escalation of prices.

The first signs of an ebbing in demand appeared last summer and have continued into this year. Applications for home loans, a gauge of future home sales, are down 20 percent from last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The process of selling a home, meanwhile, is taking longer, a trend reflected in heightened demand for lengthier rate locks, a guarantee offered by lenders to keep the rate on a mortgage at a set level for a certain period. In recent years, rates for mortgages were guaranteed for 30 to 45 days because homes could be sold quickly. Now, borrowers ask for 120-day rate locks.

To move property, some sellers use unusual staging techniques to personalize it and subtly advertise strong points. Builders with unsold inventory homes have also come up with new ways of wooing buyers such as helping to pay mortgage closing costs, offering free upgrades or lowering sales price.

Ultimately, the single factor determining whether a home attracts buyers likely will be its price. So, price your home right and get it sold.


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