Housing: Owners Struggle to Unload McMansions

ByABC News via via logo

June 19, 2006— -- With their two children all grown up, Mickey and Jane Finn have been trying to unload their 6,200-square-foot Virginia home. But after two months on the market and no buyers in sight, the recently retired couple has put their house up for auction.

"At this point, we're just looking to sell the house and move on," Mickey Finn said.

The Finns' predicament is far from unusual. New home sales are down 11 percent from last year, and sales of existing homes have dropped nearly 6 percent. In the Finns' home of Loundon County, which is littered with so-called McMansions, home sales dropped 39 percent compared with the same period last year.

A recent story in The Wall Street Journal even suggests the age of the McMansion may have finally come to a close.

A multitude of economic factors could be part of the slowdown. In the past three years, electricity rates have increased 12 percent, and the price of natural gas has risen 43 percent.

In the new real estate climate, those looking to sell need to lower their expectations, experts said.

"It's taking a little longer to sell a home at all levels, whether it's McMansion or entry level, so ... people are dropping prices down somewhat or are even offering incentives," said Jerry Howard of the National Association of Home Builders.

Some home owners will offer to pay closing costs or further sweeten the deal with furniture and appliances. Some realtors suggest "staging," a relatively new practice.

"It involves allowing a professional to come in and perhaps replace some of their furniture with different furniture, install artwork on the walls, do things that might make it more inviting and more attractive to potential buyers," said Bill Podley, a real estate broker for Dickson Podley Realtors.

ABC's Heather Nauert reported this story for "Good Morning America."

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