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Published: Sunday, 3/20/2011

Glut of properties takes gleam off spring home-selling season

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Real estate agent Diane Thomas, in the house Jim Oliver has had on the market since 2007, says many sellers refuse to accept that they need to list their homes at or below the price they paid for them. Real estate agent Diane Thomas, in the house Jim Oliver has had on the market since 2007, says many sellers refuse to accept that they need to list their homes at or below the price they paid for them.
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Spring can be an exciting time for homeowners ready to sell. But it is less so for those whose home has lingered on the market through multiple spring selling seasons.

Years of listings, open houses and showings without offers are weighing on many homeowners.

"I would like to move on," said Jim Oliver, who's been trying to sell since 2007. "It's frustrating."

His two-story house, with amenities such as a finished basement and a wooded lot where deer roam, sits on 1.4 prime acres in an upscale region northeast of Cincinnati, with a top-rated school district. But the traditional real estate cry of "location, location, location!" has given way in this economy to "price, price, price!"

With new foreclosures and mortgage short-sales still streaming into the market, buyers have a lot of bargain listings to choose from.

That can mean tough conversations between agents and homeowners about how much they can realistically expect to get for their homes -- and if it's not attracting much interest after months or years, the need to slash their asking price.

"We have had a problem with sellers who are nostalgic for the way it was," said Ron Phipps, a Warwick, R.I., agent and president of the National Association of Realtors. "You have to be where the market is, not where it was," he said.

Sales of previously owned homes fell last year to the lowest in 13 years.

The Oliver property is in an upscale region northeast of Cincinnati. The Oliver property is in an upscale region northeast of Cincinnati.
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Diane Thomas, who's listing the Olivers' house, said 2010 was the worst sales year of her 27-year career.

She said the popping of the pre-recession real estate bubble means many people need to list their homes at or below what they paid for them.

But spring's warm weather is coming, and that usually means increased activity, with better weather and more traffic from families hoping to buy and get moved before next school year.

Veteran real estate agents suggest a variety of steps for homeowners heading into spring. Among possible tasks: spruce up landscaping, update exterior lighting, and paint or replace front doors, all to create more "curb appeal" for first impressions.

Mr. Phipps advises owners to listen to their agent's suggestions and heed negative feedback from previous showings -- without taking it personally.

He also suggested going to open houses or taking online "virtual tours" of similar homes on sale to see how they compare in appearance and price.

The Olivers, meanwhile, have slashed the price of their house nearly 25 percent, to $549,000.



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