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Real Estate: Homes on Market Taking Much Longer to Sell, in Past Six Months

By Monte Helme

On average, the length of time required from real estate listing to contract has increased dramatically in the U.S. in the past six months, according to HouseHunt's latest national "Current Market Conditions homes for sale activity survey. Seventy-five percent of respondents said it is now taking more than 30 days. Of that figure, 30% said it is taking more than 60 days.

Three months ago, 52% of survey respondents said the average time on the market required for a home to sell was more than 30 days on the real estate market. Six months ago, only 35% said it was taking more than 30 days as buyer frenzy continued unabated.

"Current Market Conditions 4th quarter survey also found:

Home sales prices remain firm. Currently, 82% say they are getting 95% or more of asking home prices. This compares with 80% in the third quarter and 90% in the second quarter of 2005.

Solid appreciation. One-half of all respondents report home price appreciation of 10% or more in the fourth quarter, year-to-year. This compares with 46% in the third quarter and 42% in the second quarter.

Multiple offers down. Currently, only 50% of respondents report multiple offers. This is down from 70% in the second and third quarters of this year.

Buyers-sellers demand nearly equal. A more balanced real estate market between buyers and sellers demand has emerged in many parts of the country. This compares with a 61-39% buyer ratio in the third quarter.

First-time buyers. Currently at 35%, this percentage has stayed about the same for the last six-nine months despite price and appreciation spikes on the East and West coasts and in Florida, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Greatest first-time buyer activity continues to be in the South and Midwest. Repeat and move-up buyer activity remains strong. Investor and second-home demand has slowed.

Inventory of unsold homes growing. Sixty-five percent said the trend is up in local real estate markets. Fifty-five percent report a good supply in all price ranges. Only 38% reported a good supply six months ago.

Market Growth. Overwhelmingly, survey respondents said job and population growth continues to fuel housing demand in local markets.

"Our latest random survey findings are consistent with both nationwide housing sales data and forecasts of top industry economists, said Michael Bearden, President and CEO of HouseHunt, Inc. "Our strong economy and consumer demand made record homes for sale possible in 2005 despite destructive hurricanes, rising mortgage interest rates and higher energy costs. We're optimistic that a sustainable, more balanced housing market will be the cornerstone of the U.S. economy in 2006."

A sampling of individual survey results:

"Clint Johnson of Rose & Womble and exclusive member agent in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, VA, area: "During the past few weeks we have seen a softening of the market, with fewer multiple home offers and buyers negotiating for closing cost assistance." He noted that the area has seen tremendous growth in prices and in units sold. Median home price is $230,000, up 15-20% in the past year.

"Rod Sullivan of GMAC Metro Brokers, exclusive member agent for Lithonia, GA, reports more sellers than buyers with a good supply of unsold homes. Average time on the market is 90-120 days. "Our greatest activity is from first-time buyers. Median home price is $150,000. Sellers are getting 95-100% of asking prices."

"Steve Gaines of CENTURY 21 Landtree and exclusive member agent in Greenwood, IN, reports more sellers than buyers and a good supply of unsold homes. "Average time on the market is 90-120 days, he said. Median home price is $175,000.

"Diane Ash of Weichert Realtors and exclusive member agent in Middletown, DE, said lower property taxes are attracting buyers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Median home price is $300,000. Average time on the market is 30-60 days.

"Tim Ireland of Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell and exclusive member agent in Mokena, IL, said sellers and buyers are about 50-50. Average time on the market is 60-90 days. Median price is $261,190 with a good supply of unsold homes.

"Leah and Neville Bradshaw of Long & Foster Old Town/Historic,, exclusive member agents in Lorton, VA, reported more sellers than buyers and a median home price of $543,000, up 10-15% over last year. Even though sellers frequently get more than 100% of asking prices, they said that first-time buyers are very active.

"Dan Urbach of Prudential California and exclusive member agent in Pacific Palisades, CA, said his market is settling down from a very hot seller's market to a more balanced market. Median price home is $2 million, up 15-20% over a year ago. Average time on the market is 30-60 days.

About The Author

Monte Helme is a national public relations consultant with HouseHunt, Inc. Previously, he was vice president of public relations and publications for Century 21 Real Estate Corp.; vice president of communications for AmeriNet Financial Services (now LendingTree); assistant city editor/Orange County for the Los Angeles Times; executive sports editor of the Rockford, IL, Morning Star and Register-Republic; and reporter for the Dixon, IL, Evening-Telegraph. Find real estate, homes for sale through public MLS,and check what my home is worth by visiting websites: and powered by HouseHunt, Inc.

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