Homes in Annapolis are overpriced for the current "buyer's market," and often they're just not selling, say Annapolis Realtors.
That consensus was reached by the 80 percent of local real estate agents who answered a Shannon & Luchs survey of more than 350 agents.
Shannon & Luchs' Annapolis office released the survey this week, supporting many agents' opinions about the market.
"We are definitely in a buyer's market," said Tina Marine, office manager at Shannon & Luchs. "But sellers are still clinging to the days of yesteryear, when homes appreciated. They don't want to lower prices.
"There is enough inventory to last us quite a long time in Annapolis," she said.
The Washington-based agency commissioned In Cahoots Inc., an Annapolis advertising and marketing firm, to survey all local agents registered with the Board of Realtors. Nearly one quarter of those surveyed responded.
Eighty-five percent viewed market conditions over the past two years as fair or poor, while 15 percent called them excellent or good, the survey showed.
"It seems to be the much larger, more expensive homes that are on the market for months now," said Carolyn Sullivan, In Cahoots' director of marketing. "It used to be a matter of weeks."
It's common to hear stories of sellers in the county ending up with two mortgages, she said.
"They knew the house would sell fast and bought another house and are sitting there with mortgage payments of as much as $8,000 a month," Sullivan said.
As for the exclusive waterfront properties that traditionally have drawn buyers to the county: "Not only are they not selling, they're not getting anyone to look at them," she said. "We were all led to expect that our houses would continue to rise in value. When values slowed down, our expectations did not slow with them."
The shift from a seller's to a buyer's market came in the spring of 1989, Marine said. Now, instead of signing clients for 30- to 40-day listings, agents often sign them for at least six months, she said.
"There are a lot of cases where people have to sell, go under market value and sell quickly," she said.
"But for people who don't have to sell, it's very difficult to lower prices. When you have to tell them the market hasn't appreciated, they don't understand that."
Realtors who answered the survey said single-family homes from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet -- costing $100,000 to $250,000 -- sold best during the past two years.
Single-family homes in the 1,500- to 2,500-square-foot range accounted for 39 percent of sales, the survey found.
Larger single-family homes accounted for 22 percent; town houses, 15 percent; smaller single-family homes, 13 percent; condominiums, 7 percent; and duplexes, 4 percent.
Sixty one percent of the Realtors' sales fell in the $101,000 to $249,000 range. Twenty-four percent of homes sold for less, 15 percent for more.
Realtors reported selling 31 percent of their homes in Annapolis, 12 percent on waterfront property, 10 percent in Broadneck, 9 percent in Arnold/Severna Park, 7 percent in Edgewater/Riva, 3 percent on water-view property and 28 percent elsewhere.
Most of the buyers came from Annapolis, the survey found.
Most Realtors said they had worked in the business for more than three years.
Despite a soft market, more than half said they expected to continue their real estate careers.
"For many years, we thought Annapolis was recession-proof, because of government work, private industry and location between two cities. It's not as recession-proof as we thought," Marine said.
"Still, it's one of the better real estate markets in the country."