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La plus sa change, la plus c'est la meme chose. The more things change, the more they are the same. An old French saying. A contradiction? Not with respect to the current East Bay Real estate Market.
Sales are down, but prices are up. This is what you read in the papers, and this is what we see in our daily experience. In the recent past, almost every house sold right away, with multiple offers, usually selling for an amount beyond the sellers' wildest dreams. Now things have settled down quite a bit.
Just lately it has become common to hold a house open for two weeks, to have the projected offer date arrive, and for there to be no offers, or sometimes only one. Frequently offers come in, sometimes more than one, after the advertised offer date. This is because many buyers don't want to compete, but then get more interested when the house is still available. Nevertheless, some houses are still attracting multiple offers right away.
These times require flexibility from both sellers and buyers. Realistic sellers are pricing their houses competitively now that there is more inventory hanging around on the market. Sellers usually tell us they don't "have to" sell, but in reality they do "want to" sell. They wouldn't be putting their house on the market if they didn't have plans or desires for what they might do after the house is sold. So it's not a defeat to sell a house for a lot more than it cost and get on with life's adventures, even though the selling price might not meet one's fantasies.
Buyers may well be able to negotiate these days. They are less likely to feel completely at the mercy of sellers. But, buyers are still not completely in the driver's seat. We've seen examples of sellers holding out and eventually getting close to what they wanted. And of buyers realizing that the price the seller was holding out for was not such a bad deal after all.
So in these perilous times both sellers and buyers must be prepared and alert. Buyers must be ready to jump when an opportunity presents itself. If a property is languishing, then that is the time to go for it and see what can be negotiated.
Sellers, on the other hand, now more than ever need good real estate agents. Awhile back, your sister or brother in law, who just got bumped from a dot.com and decided to give real estate a try, could hang up a sign and buyers swarmed to throw money at the house. That's not happening today. Your sale will go better with an experienced agent who understands market cycles and has expertise pricing, staging, marketing and negotiating.
How are things the same? Prices are still high. Being competitive is still the watchword. Having a good agent who knows the territory and has been there many times before is still going to serve you in good stead. Knowing what you can afford or where you're going and understanding why you're buying or selling is still the core of your approach. Real Estate is still the best investment as far as we can tell.