Last week, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes rose 5.5 percent between August and September, the largest increase in more than five years. Who might relish this news? Real estate agents twiddling their thumbs at open houses and praying someone walks through the doors. So, on Sunday, I decided to call a few of them, and see how they were doing at their properties, and more importantly, how they were feeling in general about the market:
7827 Karla Lane, Fort Washington, Md.
Original Listing Price: $310,000 (Sept. 11, 2008)
Current Listing Price: Same
Year built: 1975
Description: Four bedrooms, three bathrooms
Agent: Sandy Craig of Long & Foster Camp Springs
How many people do you expect to show up today? “Well, it started at 1 o’clock, and it’s about 10 after 2 p.m., and I haven’t had anyone come through yet. I’m hopeful.” How many listings do you have right now? She had six, but she’s sold two in the last two weeks. “Homes that are priced below $300,000 seem to move quicker than homes that are priced above that threshold,” she says. When do you expect to see prices rise again? “Oh gosh. I wish I knew. I think it will probably turn around after the election—-sometime maybe in the second or third quarter of 2009. And that’s a hopeful guess. There are still so many houses on the market.” Later, Craig adds: “Right now, buyers are asking for unrealistic prices on homes. In other words, if a home is priced at $310,000, they’re offering $270,000. Just ridiculous. And on top of that, they’re asking for closing help. And that’s because there are so many houses on the market, they think they can do this and people are just going to give their houses away.”