Last summer, I worked with a couple who owned a home in a highly regarded neighborhood that had a good history of resale. It was in a desirable location; had character, charm and the kind of unique quality that is a hallmark of picture-postcard communities like theirs.

But more than that, the sellers – whose home was more than 30-years-old – had made substantial renovations and additions, commissioning top area contractors to do the work.

They had all pertinent inspections done prior to listing and promptly addressed any small issue that arose. They had their home appraised. They called on an area expert to de-clutter and stage the home. And even with three young boys, they managed to turn their home into a house for the buyers to view.

We priced their property at its appraisal value, using the square foot price of a nearby home that sold 8 weeks earlier. That home, just a few blocks away – didn’t offer buyers as much as my clients’ home, which had a better location, better amenities and more space.

If ever there was a home that could get away with pricing at appraised value, rather than below appraised value, my clients’ home was it.

Once listed, we blew the horn and beat the drum through broker events, print advertisements, virtual tours, online blogs and good old-fashioned jawboning.

Buyer agents came with buyers, even previewing the home for out-of-town clients. The reviews were stellar. Online inquiries were abundant. All signs gave us reason to expect that a contract would be just around the corner.

Except it wasn’t.

Since 2007, when inventory levels for homes started building up and values readjusting downward, sellers have been asked to do a lot more to be competitive in a buyer-driven market. Inventory levels at the higher end of our local market (over $400,000 where this home was priced) posed more challenges for sellers than homes in the $150,000 – $300,000 range.

My sellers were smart enough to understand the market dynamics and the buyer psychology. They knew, in other words, an adjustment would have to be made. They wanted to get their home sold.

We didn’t just tweak the price. We dropped it 10%! Remember, this is a house we are talking about, not clothing in a department store. A price drop of 10% is a meaningful and attention-grabbing reduction on a house that was originally priced at appraised value. Who wouldn’t want a chance to purchase this home at 10% below appraisal?

That price drop did the trick.

There was a strong increase in showing appointments and the sellers soon got multiple offers. Two came in very close to the adjusted list price. Both offers were competitive, well thought out and similar in many important respects. Both buyers were asked to come back with their highest and best offer the following day.

After careful deliberation, and a profound sense of humility, the sellers selected one of the offers and went under contract. The final offer came in above the adjusted listing price.

I was so glad to see the sellers recoup a large portion of the price decrease they had agreed to and it was gratifying to them to know they’d made the right decision.

Of course, not all meaningful price adjustments will result in multiple offers, but this situation truly turned into a success story for all concerned.

The buyers will be closing on a property that they bought below market value in a neighborhood they want to be in. And the sellers felt like they won too.

I’ve never been mistaken for a riverboat gambler but I understand what it means to increase your odds. Our sellers increased their odds of procuring an offer where there was none.

More than anything the sellers’ ability to adjust their price to a below market value proved to be the single biggest game changer. It made the difference between their waiting indefinitely for that “just around the corner” contract to appear and being able to move on to the next chapter in their lives.

Bill Sahadi, CRS, (Certified Residential Specialist) is the Broker/Owner at Fore Properties in Southern Pines, N.C. and can be reached at orr

Real Estate – Fighting for a Buyer

It’s always frustrating, if not maddening, when the appraisal comes in low on a sale of a home. Buying a home is very emotional for both buyers and sellers, and the last thing anyone wants is some appraiser telling the parties involved that the home isn’t worth what they agreed upon. Personally, I don’t know of any appraiser who likes coming in low on the sale of a home; frankly it’s a major headache. If there is a true arm’s length purchase agreement between a willing and knowledgeable buyer, and a willing and knowledgeable seller – that is the very definition of market value!

The challenge comes when buyers want to use someone else’s money for their purchase, the banks. Appraisers don’t make the market; they interpret it, and give their opinion of value based on that interpretation. But, any interpretation or opinion of value also has to follow standards set by: USPAP, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD (FHA), investor guidelines (Wells Fargo, B of A, Flagstar, etc.), and the originating lenders guidelines. Then appraisers have to meet all of those guidelines, using a reduced number of available comparable sales.

What we have now is banks wanting appraisals with perfect comparable sales. They are also enforcing the strictest lending and appraisal guidelines in history. Add to that the fact that there are less comparable sales than normal, and buyers (and sellers) are at the mercy of the current “comparables.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that the home’s value is absolute, it just means that buyers can only borrow against what an appraiser can prove on paper. And, without a loan, there’s no sale. If a home is unique, it may be more difficult to find quality comps. In that case, the home may appraise below the contract price. Buyers are also learning that just because the appraisal is below the contract price, it does not automatically mean the price they agreed to pay isn’t fair. There are so many “it depends” situations in selling a home today, a good Realtor® can make the difference between simply getting frustrated with the process or getting your home sold.

For a seller, the best thing to do is to have an appraisal done first (and a home inspection). The most knowledgeable Realtors® will tell you that having an appraisal done, prior to listing your property, is just a necessary ingredient in today’s real estate process. If you really want to sell your home in this highly competitive market, you have to know upfront what a typical buyer may be able to borrow on your home. Pricing and condition are both critical to attract a buyer in this market. Real estate has always had cycles of buyer’s and seller’s markets. Today, it is a buyer’s market if there ever was one. They want it all, and they want it at a bargain price.

Right now, in most markets, the reality is there are more sellers than buyers. Sellers have set a realistic price to begin with, and find a Realtor® who understands what it takes to get a home sold in today’s marketplace. Sellers need to think like buyers. Have a pre-listing appraisal, look at the current competition, and price your home to move to the head of the class. You only get one shot at a first impression. No price reduction later ever has the same effect. If you want to sell your home today, you have to come armed with the ammunition to win the battle for buyers. By Michael Bolton & Hamp Thomas – Carolina Appraisers – Southern Pines, N.C.

Pinehurst-Southern Pines Association of Realtors (PSPAR) Mulitple Listing Service (MLS) committee

April 24th
Kay Beran & Parker Dunahay, the President & Vice President of the Pinehurst-Southern Pines Association of Realtors (PSPAR) Mulitple Listing Service (MLS) committee, discuss the value and breadth that our local MLS system provides to both our buyers and sellers. Also… great tips about the new PSPAR website,

How To Sell Your Home in Today’s Market

Proven tips to increase the odds of getting your house sold in our market are brought to life by Bill Sahadi, CRS & broker/owner of Fore Properties Realty of Southern Pines, N.C.

In addition to actual experiences of other sellers that Bill shares in a free flowing and conversational format, Bill also gives potential sellers an insight into the psychology of today’s buyer as well as the role of a good buyer agent.

This overview gives today’s sellers specific advice and proven methods to enhance their chances of reaching a timely sale on their home.