Your home isn't worth as much as you think it is -- just ask your real estate agent

Here's what real estate agents dislike about home sellers: They all hold too high an opinion of their own residences.

Sure, they understand that home prices across Chicago and its suburbs have fallen. They just think it's the homes of everyone else whose values have fallen.

As one veteran agent told me just last week: "It doesn't matter how often some sellers read about falling real estate values in the paper. They're never going to believe that their home should sell for what the market dictates."

And that "market dictates" part of that statement is what really matters. The only home value that matters is what buyers are willing to pay. Too often today, that's far less than what sellers would like to see.

The disconnect that sellers have is well illustrated by the latest survey from real estate site HomeGain. According to HomeGain's first quarter 2012 survey of home buyers and sellers, a whopping 77 percent of homeowners believe that their residences are worth more than the listing price recommended by their real estate agents.

At the same time, not surprisingly, 62 percent of home buyers told HomeGain that they believe homes are still overpriced.

What's this mean? Sellers are in for more shocks. After all, it's buyers today who are controlling home values. Put simply, home values are what buyers say they are. And if 62 percent of buyers say that home values are still too high, you can bet that those values will continue to fall.

Unless, of course, sellers refuse to sell their homes for less than what they believe they are worth. Unfortunately, too many sellers simply can't do this.

Personally, I'd love to see housing values rise again. It'd make it easier for me to refinance and take advantage of those low interest rates. Even better, it'd make it easier for me to write for real estate trade publications again. I used to write for dozens of these things. Today, much of that work has dried up; with the residential real estate industry struggling, those real estate trade magazines are struggling to nab ads for their pages.

What am I saying here? It's simple: C'mon, sellers, hold out. Make those buyers pay more. We'll be a much happier country if you do.


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  • We'll allz be happy to see this Trib web headline then - "Chicago home sales, prices SURGE in March" (emphasis added). Happy days are here again! Reporters and real estate agents had nothing to do with pumping up the housing market, it's only those mortgage people. Yeah.

  • The laws of economics apply to the real estate market, same as every other market. Individual sellers can hold out for a "better price", but they will see the buyer go down the street to another house for sale.

    I wish it were not so, as my house value had tanked. I could not get my "price" if I held out for another 50 years.

  • Thanks for the comments. Yes, my house too has tanked. Trying to refinance is a sobering thing these days.


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