My Turn: Scott Campbell, I’m not giving it away!

Published 9:05 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013


You’ve decided to sell your property, and you’ve been told that it is a buyer’s market but are not sure what that means. In a nutshell, it means that there is a substantial amount of inventory, houses for sale and fewer buyers than sellers.

So, when there is an active buyer, that buyer has many choices, and sellers are competing for that buyer’s attention by lowering the price of the property they are selling. And, you say, “I’m not giving my house away!” No one expects a seller to give his or her property away. But the market will tell you what range a buyer will pay for a property similar to yours.

What does that mean? By looking at properties similar to yours that have recently sold — for example, a three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house built 15 years ago on one acre of land in Chocowinity that has upgraded appliances, and is in move-in condition — the market, buyers, have determined the value. A buyer, and likely a bank that is financing the purchase, have concluded that a property similar to yours is worth a certain amount.

Now, you may not like the amount for which a similar property has sold, but the reality is that the market, buyers and financers have proof from comparable property sales what range of value your property has. If you decide that the sales price of comparable properties is too low and you price your house substantially higher, say 25 percent above the comparable sale, the likelihood of your property selling is low. Buyers have many choices, and many sellers are aggressive in their pricing to attract one of the few buyers. Buyers may look at your property, but they will buy the one down the road that is similar to yours and priced in the range of the comparable ones sold. Sorry.

So, what should you do? You’re not giving your house away, but you must look at your personal situation and make tough decisions. Has your personal or financial situation changed in a way that forces you to sell your house? If so, work closely with your realtor to aggressively price your house to get it sold as quickly as possible. What is your desired time frame to be moved? It is common for a property, even one priced correctly, to be on the market for about one year.

If your desire to move is purely personal with no overriding financial pressure to sell, you likely have more time and are willing to wait longer for a sale. And, though you too are not giving it away, if the property is not priced in line with similar houses, you may have a long wait before you turn the keys over to a new owner.

Scott Campbell is a Realtor with Century 21 The Realty Group in Washington. He writes a monthly real-estate column and is interested in hearing from you with your real-estate questions or comments. His email address is