Here are a couple of blasts from the past for you, courtesy of the Seattle Times archives and real estate Q&A columnist Bob Bruss. Our first question is from November 1993:
Q: Our home has been listed for sale with several different realtors for almost two years. We have reduced the asking price by about $35,000. It still hasn't sold. All the realtors who inspect our home say how nice it is. But we have received only two purchase offers and they both involved taking other houses in trade. We want to sell for cash and move to a better climate. However, we're not going to give our beautiful home away. Any suggestions how to get our home sold?Wow. It's pretty hard to imagine that same column being written in 2006. Even if a home listed in 2004 was overpriced, it probably would have looked like a bargain by late 2005, without any reduction in price. When was the last time you saw a nice, relatively well-priced house sitting on the market for more than a few weeks? I don't think it used to be such a rare occurrence, and it seems likely that it will soon be common again...
The second question is even better, coming at you from August 1991:
Q: How much below the asking price should we offer for a home which we want to buy? Last week we saw a home which will be perfect for us. We are now in the process of pre-qualifying with a mortgage lender to be sure we can afford to buy it. If we decide to make an offer, how much below the asking price should we offer? The real-estate agent says it is a bargain at its full asking price. We agree. Once this house hits the multiple listing book in a week or so I'm sure it will sell quickly. Should we offer the full price to be sure we get the house?It's almost funny to imagine that there was a time when "always offer under the asking price" was considered sound advice. Of course, real estate enthusiasts would have us believe that we'll never see such a time again—that double-digit appreciation will slow to 4-6% appreciation, demand will be strong, and prices will keep going up, up, up, forever and ever, amen!
A: Never offer the full asking price. Well, almost never. Unless you offer less, you will never know at what price the house could be purchased. Please believe me there is no worse feeling than to have the seller accept your first offer. If that happens, you know you probably could have bought for less if you had offered less.
I predict we'll be reading columns that bear a striking resemblance to those above within the next five years.
(Bob Bruss, Seattle Times, 11.14.1993)
(Bob Bruss, Seattle Times, 08.11.1991)