Surviving (or Thriving) in the Housing Slump

"It's a great opportunity," said NAR's Yun. "With such an abundant inventory out there, one does not have to make a hurried decision. During the housing market boom, I think some people had to make a decision a little too quick, and they had a little buyers remorse. In the current market conditions, I think the buyers will be happy."

But with so much choice, many buyers are saying they want more than just their ideal house; they want the ideal house at a bargain basement price.

"I expect buyers to continue doing exactly what they've been doing: waiting," said Naroff. "They're waiting for the prices to come down. This is their market and their market is to wait."

The key for buyers is to understand what is reasonable to expect in the local market where they are looking. Many towns in the Midwest and South did not see a huge influx of speculators during the housing boom, so they will not see prices come down.

Local markets like Las Vegas, San Diego and Miami, where "flippers" were gobbling up every house or condo with a "For Sale" sign in the yard with hopes that they would turn a huge profit in just a few months, are most at risk for big bargains in the coming months.

Naroff believes that the most oversold local markets' prices will likely see another 7 to 10 percent reduction in home prices during the coming months.

What Should a Seller Do?

If you're on the other side of the table at closing, the next few months will likely be an exercise in compromise.

Housing experts say home builders are throwing big incentives at buyers of new homes in the hopes that they will sign a contract, adding upgraded kitchens or top-end landscaping to a home for free.

This month's new home sales report shows that the builders are finally cutting the asking prices for the first time, too. That is something that's going to happen for people hoping to sell their pre-owned home as well.

"There has to be more upstaging of homes, better marketing, and sometimes it requires conceding on the prices," said Yun.

He said sellers should be aware of local market conditions when setting a home's asking price and planning on how long they will have to wait for a legitimate offer to come in.

Naroff has a bit more sobering assessment for people hoping to sell their properties: "This market will not clear until there's significantly greater price declines in a wide variety of areas around the country. I would guess in the markets that are soft, you probably need another 10 to 20 percent off the price to get those markets cleared."

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