Money Watch: Hold on to your house a bit, or sell it now?
— -- Money Watch, a personal finance column that runs every Saturday, features a financial planner from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisorsanswering reader questions about saving, protecting and growing your money. To submit a question, e-mail USA TODAY personal finance reporter Christine Dugas at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: We own a historic home and barn on a 72-acre farm near Gettysburg, Pa. We tried to sell it since we moved to a new home, but we have no offers. Is it better to keep it until the market improves or perhaps lower the price to sell it now?
Unlike the stock market, there isn't a ticker running along the bottom edge of our television that tells us the value of our home or other real estate. A good home seller will discern the ultimate sales price by establishing realistic pricing and broadening the market to include motivated buyers.
Unfortunately, many sellers affix themselves emotionally to an unbendable price, letting their house languish on the market until they find a motivated buyer (if ever). Others, desperate to sell, aggressively chop their price to appeal to a market that isn't broad enough, eventually settling for too little or abandoning the sale.
When the home is in a particularly liquid market, with many similar properties transacted, less work is required to find motivated buyers and a well-priced home should sell quickly. But the more unique a property, the more challenging it is to establish a market. You may need to range outside of the local area to find a buyer.
This is precisely the case in beautiful Gettysburg, especially regarding homes of historic significance and/or farms. A good local real estate agent may ably price the home, but could struggle to find the right niche of buyers. But it is precisely the home's uniqueness that will likely make it attractive to affluent buyers in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Consider, then, enlisting the help of a Realtor or marketing firm that may not reside in Adams County, where Gettysburg is located but has the connections to buyers motivated to purchase your property.
Of course, even after this exercise, you may find yourself in the same conundrum, and unable to sell. If that is the case, you must seriously ponder the following two factors: your motivation to unload the property and your capacity financially to carry the property.
If the lack of closure strips you of the joy of your new confines or if carrying the farm with your new home will drain you, you must ponder more aggressive pricing.
If carrying the farm isn't a strain — personally or financially — you may stay the course and wait for the market to improve. But be wary: That may take quite some time.
Drew Tignanelli, NAPFA-registered financial adviser
Financial Consulate, Inc., Gettysburg, Pa., and Hunt Valley, Md.
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