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Real estate agent Anissa Yoder was honored when her next-door neighbors asked her to list their 2,600-square-foot home on Stonegate Drive in Monclova Township.
Shortly afterward, when she and her husband had the chance to buy a house on 6.5 acres in Michigan, she figured she could market both Monclova Township houses at once.
But weeks went by with no offers on either place, and Mrs. Yoder said her heart fell when a job transfer forced the neighbors on her other side to put up a For Sale sign - just like the homeowners across the street.
"People are asking why all these homes are for sale at the same time. They think there's a stigma to the neighborhood, but there's nothing wrong," said Mrs. Yoder, an agent with Welles-Bowen Realtors in Toledo.
A higher-than-usual number of homes for sale has put buyers in the driver's seat locally and has homeowners trying to decide if they should put their homes on the market if their neighbors are already selling.
The advantage would be to share in increased traffic from open houses, but the downside is that comparison shopping might result in lower prices than desired.
The situation has real estate agents scrambling to come up with ways to set their listings apart while trying to reassure buyers there's nothing wrong with a street or subdivision.
"You can look at it two ways. It's no different than seeing a McDonald's always next to a Wendy's, for example," said Chris Hall, president of the Toledo Board of Realtors.
"People are going to comparison shop anyway. But I think homeowners get a little antsy, and typically it makes for more competitive pricing."
So far this year, a total of 7,059 houses - nearly 900 more that at the same point in 2003 - have been for sale. This year has had almost 300 more sales than last year, and the average price was $130,500, compared with $128,800 last year.
"It's definitely a buyer's market right now," Mr. Hall said. "If there are more houses out there, you have to make your house stand out."
Or, as real estate agent Sharon Kowalski said: "It's Marketing 101. It's definitely more challenging."
The first thing Mrs. Kowalski, of the Perrysburg office of the DiSalle Real Estate Co., stresses to people looking at the house she is marketing across the street from Mrs. Yoder's in Stonegate is that there is nothing wrong with the neighborhood.
"This is a subdivision where a lot of people transfer in and out of, and the homes are competing with new construction," she said. Mrs. Kowalski got the listing after the owner was transferred to Arizona after only 18 months here.
"I'll focus on something special. This house has a three-and-a-half-car garage and an awesome master bedroom, for example, so that's what makes my house a little bit different," she said. The 2,300-square-foot house is priced at $305,000.
John Decker, a Michigan real estate agent for Welles-Bowen, has several houses listed in the Deerfield Woods subdivision in Lambertville. He conceded that so many listings makes sales more difficult.
"Buyers tend to see it in a negative light and … it can be tougher as far as getting the price that the seller may want."
Local real estate agents said they wouldn't discourage home-
owners from putting out a sign if they're ready to sell, but the key is setting a realistic price to begin with.
"We priced it based on the market value that we think it's worth," said Jon Modene, of Re/Max Masters in Perrysburg, who is marketing the house on the other side of Mrs. Yoder. The house, with 3,000 square feet, is priced at $290,000.
"This is probably the first time in my 15 years that I've had a home listed with so many other homes."
Real estate agents use comparative market analysis of recent sales to set a price, said Jim Loss, of Loss Realty Group in Toledo, and that's done regardless of how many houses on a street are for sale at the same time.
Mrs. Yoder said that both she and her neighbor have dropped the asking prices on their houses as a sign they're willing to negotiate. Mrs. Yoder, for example, has her 2,400-square-foot house at $315,000, a price she has reduced three times from the original $329,000. A neigbhor's house is for sale at $329,000, down $10,000 from the original asking price.
"We wanted to show that we've got a little motivation," she said.
Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org