Wherever I go these days, whomever I speak with, upon finding out that I am a Realtor, says the same thing "How are you doing these days? Slow market isn't it? Tough real estate market, eh?"
The facts are that the real estate market is always tough. If it isn't tough for sellers (like it is now in certain areas), then it's tough for buyers. Each type of market presents its own set of challenges for Realtors.
Listing agents love a seller's market where a home sells quickly after they place it on the MLS and put up the sign, often with multiple offers. But this type of market is very difficult for agents who represent lots of buyers. Losing out to higher bids from other purchasers is tough. In the seller's market that abruptly ended 2 years ago, I had clients who bid $20-$25K over asking price (on $350,000 homes) and were frustrated to find that another buyer outbid them by an additional $25 Grand. We're talking $50,000 over list price! That's 15% over the price that the seller hoped to obtain for their home. Can you imagine walking in to your local Honda dealer and offering them 15% over MSRP for a certified used 2002 Civic? No way! And anxious buyers were waiving home inspections to "win" the homes. No test drive for that Honda Civic.
Today, there is more inventory and sellers are paying closing costs to get the sale. It's a different market. Tougher for sellers in Northern Virginia, and tougher for listing agents, but an easier market for agents working with buyers.
But is it a slow market? I researched for the number of monthly home sales in Alexandria, Virginia from January - August for 2005, 2006, and 2007.
The facts show that there was a big decrease in the number of sales from 2005 to 2006. However, when comparing this year with 2006, it is readily apparent that sales are holding steady in Alexandria, and actually up during some months. Prices are down slightly reflecting a reality adjustment on the part of sellers. But the sales decline happened last year. This year is on par with 2006.
August 2007 saw 212 home sales in Alexandria at an average sales price of $497,751. Homes are selling at an average 5.23% discount from the asking price, representing a $27,500 reduction from listing price to sales price. Not a bad deal for current buyers.
Experienced Realtors can handle the ups and downs of the real estate market. Bottom line: Different areas have varying market conditions, but the market is changed. And at least in Alexandria, things are holding steady. They certainly are not slow.