Buyers and sellers need to have realistic expectations in today’s housing market

by Todd Lewys

By any stretch of the imagination, it’s a great purchase for someone looking for a starter home.

The home in question is a 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom bungalow on a quiet street in a central location and close to schools, parks and a community club. 

Yet, the home won’t sell.

Initially listed at $275,000, the home has since been reduced to under $250,000. 

“It also has a developed basement, two-car garage and a big back yard.

That said, the home isn’t perfect. As a matter of fact, no home meets the label of “perfect.” 

According to the outgoing owner, who recently took a job out east, the kitchen could be updated. Other than that, the home is ready for a young family to enjoy.

“We actually put over $20,000 into the home over the last number of years,” said the owner. “Both bathrooms have been redone, and we had the foundation repaired; we have all the papers that shows that the foundation is now in excellent condition. 

“The cabinets (white laminate Euro-style with oak trim) are dated, but still work fine. All that’s needed are some new (or re-faced) cabinets and some countertops, and you’ve got a nice, functional kitchen.”

He added that offers made after the price was dropped below the $250,000 mark have been all too easy to reject.

“Some of the offers have actually been down around $200,000. Quite honestly, that’s insulting. Aside from the kitchen, this is a good, solid home that’s been well-maintained. 

“If someone gives us an offer at list price, we’ll be more than happy to accept it. We can move on to our new home out east, and the people who buy the house will be getting a good home.”

According to REALTOR® Glen Williams, this situation is now all too common.

“Buyers and sellers simply aren’t on the same page,” he said. “I recently had three deals going over a short period of time, and not one of them got done because the buyer and seller couldn’t agree on a price. 

“Either the seller was asking an unrealistic amount for their home, or the buyers were trying to get a bargain on a home that was priced accordingly. 

“The result of this type of behaviour is that there are a lot of good homes just sitting there,” he added.

 With over 5,000 homes currently listed on the MLS®, there are definitely some good deals to be had. 

But those deals won’t be concluded until both buyers and sellers change their mindset, according to REALTOR® Scott Moore.

 “I think the biggest thing both sides need to do is listen to their real estate agent,” said Moore. “At the same time the onus is on us to educate buyers and sellers about the realities of today’s market.”

The reality is that the market has moderated. While it’s no longer a sellers’ market, as may have been the case two to three years ago, it’s also not a buyer’s market.

“Buyers have to recognize that sellers aren’t desperate,” Moore continued. “If their home doesn’t sell as quickly as they want, they’re not panicking. In many cases, they’re just saying ‘we’ll just wait until the spring when the market’s more active.’

“It’s just not realistic to expect to get a home for $50,000 off, and buyers have to realize that.”

REALTOR® Charlene Urbanski said REALTORS® need to work with both parties in order to change their mindsets.

“Sellers need to realize that the market isn’t where it was two years ago,” she said. “And buyers need to realize the market hasn’t swung so far the other way that they’re going to get a bargain. 

“Both sides are being unreasonable in many instances, so it’s up to us as REALTORS® to educate both sides.”

What would that education deal with?

“Reality,” said Urbanski. “Sellers need to listen to their REALTOR® so that their home is priced realistically, while buyers need to listen to their REALTOR® when they tell them the home they’re looking at represents excellent value at list price. 

“REALTORS® need to work harder to bridge the gap between buyers and sellers. If we don’t, people will continue to draw their lines in the sand and refuse to budge. 

“No one wins when that happens,” she added.