Home Sellers Lowering Prices To Lure Buyers

Web Site Says Baltimore's Not Alone In These Reductions

August 15, 2009|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com

Sellers have dropped their asking prices on one out of every three homes on the market in Baltimore, according to real estate site Trulia.

The average drop in price was 11 percent. That adds up to $41 million in cuts, Trulia said.

Only 10 other large U.S. cities have a greater percentage of homes with reduced asking prices, the company said. It looked at listings on its site at the beginning of the month to see how many were priced lower than they had been within the previous 12 months. Foreclosures were not included.

"The question you have to ask yourself on that is, did they price it too high to begin with?" said Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III, executive vice president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors. "Was it an unrealistic initial offer price, or are they adjusting to the declining market conditions? It's probably a mix of both."

Even with asking-price reductions, homeowners might find themselves agreeing to contracts that lower the price still more. Average sellers in Baltimore got 11 percent less than their asking price last month, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

Jacksonville, Fla., topped Trulia's list with asking-price cuts on 38 percent of homes for sale. But sellers' reductions were biggest in economically depressed Detroit, down 22 percent on average.

Some of the local decreases on individual properties are steep. In Baltimore, several homes currently on Trulia are listed for half their initial asking price. And the cuts off pricier homes can really add up, such as the $150,000 drop in June on a six-bedroom in North Roland Park.

David McIlvaine, president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, said one couple dropped the asking price on their Ellicott City home from $520,000 to $500,000 a few weeks ago when he showed that it would dramatically widen the potential-buyer pool.

Homes in the sellers' ZIP code priced between $500,000 and $520,000 have been collectively getting 11 showings a week, he said. The collective number of showings a week for homes in the $475,000 to $500,000 range is 65 - six times more.

"That speaks volumes," said McIlvaine, an associate broker with Keller Williams Select Realty in Ellicott City.

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