Is That Real Estate Listing Getting Rusty or Is It A Good Deal?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President

How Long Has That House Been on The Market?One of the more popular questions I get on a day to day basis from people looking to buy a home in Northern Virginia is "How Long Has That House Been on the Market?"

In that respect, Northern Virginia is not unique, as buyers around the country ask themselves and their REALTORS that same question, over and over again.

When you learn that a home has been on the market for a long time, what do you think?  If you're like most potential buyers, your house searching red flags start going berserk and you make one or more of the following assumptions:

  • There's gotta be something wrong with the house.


  • The price is too darn high.


  • The sellers must be willing to negotiate.


  • The sellers don't really want to move.


  • There's something else we don't know (about the home, the neighborhood, the sellers)

Typically, when a home is on the market for a significant amount of time, over and above the average time on market in a given area, that's a strong indication that the home is overpriced.  Many sellers do themselves an injustice by overpricing their home for sale at the beginning. 

There may be several reasons why sellers overprice their homes:

  1. Ego -- they want to clear as much or more than their neighbor did when they sold.

  2. Improper Guidance -- somebody told them they could sell the house for that much.

  3. Unrealistic Expectations -- the sellers don't realize nor follow the ups and downs of the market.

  4. Testing the Market -- the sellers lack real motivation to move, but will for "their price."

  5. Built in Negotiating Cushion -- instead of pricing right and getting a sale, the sellers believe that they need to price the home high to leave room for negotiating down.

For a comical look at why you should not overprice your home for sale, watch my spoof video: Desperate REALTOR Episode 3: "You Gotta Lower Your Price"

For realistic advice on pricing your Northern Virginia or D.C. home,

As a buyer seeking property either for your residence or as investment, you will most likely find that homes that have been on the market a long time rarely have anything truly wrong with them, except the price.  Properly motivated sellers will likely be much more willing to negotiate on price and other terms when there home has languished on the market for months.  You should start by researching the average amount of time that homes spend on the market in the community that you wish to buy. 

When you look at homes that have spend an above-average amount of time on the market, you are likely to be able to find and negotiate a good deal.  Currently, the average time on market varies throughout different parts of Northern Virginia, but the overall average is about 65 days.

As of the end of January 2011, there are 103 homes in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax County that have been on the market for over a full year.  Of these homes on the market for 365 days or more, 58 are priced in the million dollar plus range.  However, there are homes ranging in price from $169,300 to almost $10 million that have spent this much time on the market. 

Maybe you can get a good deal on one of those!


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home value
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Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Good essential to underline the so important price aspect.   For secondary home markets, though, there's another reason:  buyers put discretionary purchases on "hold".   No one "has to" buy a retirement home, or a vacation home or a recreational investment...takes confidence for those markets to recover.

Jan 31, 2011 06:10 AM #1
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I don't know if the stuff called listings is rusty, but I am inspecting a lot of rusty stuff in listings!

Jan 31, 2011 10:00 PM #2
Christine Bohn
RE/MAX Professionals - Gainesville, FL
The Bohn Team, Gainesville FL

I hear "that" question all the time.  I notice the DOM on the listings when showing them to buyers.  I try to do my research, and be able to tell them how many times the price has been reduced along the way too.   With high inventory, our DOM gets long....and I agree there are some VERY good deals out there.

OH....and will you be at the convention in VEGAS?

Feb 01, 2011 03:18 AM #3
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Brian Block

Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate
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