Discovering a Dwelling in This Overheated Market

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Finding a Home in This Overheated Market

When Ms. Park offered a price for a home in Millbrook, N.Y. that needed renovation but was on a quiet country lane on five acres of land, she listed it at $ 287,000 and had 62 shows and 32 offers. "The house is selling well above asking price," she said, declining to give the number as it wasn't closed yet. A comparable home in Millbrook, with far less acreage, was listed for $ 310,000 in May, reduced to $ 299,999 in June, and is still for sale.

For buyer customers, Ms. Park looks closely at houses that sit like lumps, including those that are being sold by their owners, and even offers that have been withdrawn. When she spots a coarse gemstone, she steps in and offers a lower price before the seller makes a formal discount online that triggers multiple bids. "I just got a client into a $ 35,000 deal by asking exactly like this," she said. Her customers call her "Swoop Sandi".

When it comes to pricing, third-party sites like Zillow and Realtor offer useful transparency (up to a point) but also add to the problems of sluggish real estate, realtors say. Buyers see a home's sales history and draw their own conclusions about why a price has been lowered. But sometimes the story is more complicated than some statistics suggest, and the agent may never have a chance to explain it. Zillow's habit of reporting how many people are viewing or saving an entry adds to the negative perception. If the numbers are tight, viewers might assume something is wrong and move on.

On the other hand, a house that is not stifled of interest has its own charm. If home craze is dampened, according to Peggy Bellar of Margaretville, it cannot be for any reason other than buyer fatigue. "A lot of people have been in numerous bidding situations and are shy at this point."

Ms. Bellar had one final explanation for a moribund listing: "If everything is done right" (including all-important pricing) then "it may simply be a factor that the property market adapts easily".

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