- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 12, 2010

The first half of 2010 was a roller coaster for sellers and buyers of Washington-area homes, but the latter half of the year probably will be much more placid. Having a good agent working for you is crucial as everyone adjusts to a market without the tax-credit incentives that fueled sales in the spring.

Area homebuyers have grown used to an abundance of inventory and have a bargain-hunting mindset. They speak of foreclosures and short sales even though the majority of sales are conventional.

Sellers need to remember this when they price their homes.

“Pricing a home correctly is so key. It is absolutely critical that you price it right from the beginning,” says Alana Lasover, branch vice president of Coldwell Banker’s Bethesda Downtown office.

“It has to be priced correctly from the start. After the first weekend, you’ve lost momentum. The first six days are the most critical. Buyer interest will wane after that, and buyers will become more aggressive with their offers.”

This kind of advice is why you need a Realtor who is keeping tabs on the latest data. We saw prices rise in many jurisdictions in the spring, but they’ll probably be flat for the rest of 2010. So your agent needs current info to help you price your home correctly.

“Many sellers want to ‘try’ pricing a home higher, just to see how the market reacts,” Ms. Lasover says. “But a good agent knows where it needs to be priced from the start.”

In a market like this, with abundant inventory and low interest rates, buyers have a lot of advantages over sellers. If you want to sell in a short period of time, recognize how your home compares to the others around you, and price it accordingly.

“One thing I’ve noticed is that if you have a new kitchen and your home is under $1.2 million, it will sell quickly,” Ms. Lasover says. “These buyers don’t want to do anything. They seem to be young, they are working a lot, and they don’t have the time or money to start renovating houses.”

Interest rates have fallen recently, which could spur some buyer interest, but rates have been low for a long time, so expect sales to remain flat for the rest of the year.

Send e-mail to [email protected].

The statistics in this story reflect a metropolitan area that includes the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Howard, Charles and Frederick; the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania and Stafford; the city of Alexandria; and the District.

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