Tips for Home Buyers and Sellers

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Given all the concerns over the housing market these days, the question on everyone's mind is: Is this a good time to buy or sell real estate?

"It all depends on who you are and what you hope to accomplish," Stephanie Singer, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Realtors, told ABC News.

If you are looking to buy, this is a great time for you.

Interest rates are still at a very low mark, there are a lot more houses available in certain areas and buyers can take their time selecting a home because places are staying on the market longer.

For sellers, it's a bit more tricky.

Some markets have seen significant drops of property value -- some areas, such as parts of Florida, have seen a 20 percent or even greater drop -- leaving homeowners with less equity than they had a few months ago.

WHAT TO KNOW
  • SYNOPSIS: If you're buying or selling a home, there are some basic tips to deal with the rumbling real estate market.

"People need to realize that a home is where you live. It's not a lottery ticket," said Jim Gillespie, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker.

Just because the market has fallen apart in some areas, it doesn't mean that property owners are losing everything.

Many people bought several years ago and the recent drop didn't bring them below the price they paid for their home.

Singer said that over the past six years, the median national price of housing has gone up by 50 percent. She said real estate is a long-term investment.

"Sometimes people can get a little spooked by national media reports about what may be happening, but all real estate is local," Singer said. "They really need to be cognizant of what is happening in their local markets."

And of course, the National Association of Realtors suggests that the best way to get that idea about your local market is through a local real estate professional.

Gillespie said that sellers should also fix up their home so it stands out in the marketplace. He said little things, like painting odd colored walls with neutral colors and cleaning up the clutter, can make a big difference.

"You want your home to stand out because there is a lot of competition," Gillespie said.

Sellers might also want to offer buyers incentives, such as offering to pay taxes or condo fees for a year.

Here are some other tips from Coldwell Banker:

Tips for Buyers

Don't Try to Time the Market When home prices are lower, it is very tempting for potential buyers to try to wait as long as possible in the hopes that prices will decline even further. This strategy can be detrimental. Once a home is priced to what the current market will bear, buyers will make offers. It is best to work with your sales associate to make an offer based upon the prices at which similar homes in the market are selling for. In a buyer's market, there are more opportunities for negotiations, but making an offer is an important step. If you find a house you love, put your bid in and negotiate. Don't let it sit for another buyer to make an offer.

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