Why Real Estate Is Always A Sellers' Market

Posted by Joe Manausa on Thursday, April 29th, 2010 at 11:32am.

It is always a sellers' market in real estate, and it is important to know this whether you are buying or selling real estate. The seller controls his/her own fate.

Sellers' market in real estateIt is always a sellers' market in real estate, and it is important to know this whether you are buying or selling real estate. This is a fact that is often missed by people who want to buy a home, as well as by sellers who want to sell a home.

If you have been paying attention to the housing market at all, then you know there is a nationwide glut of homes for sale. Both the National Association of Homebuilders and the National Association of REALTORS like to gloss over this fact, but the truth is we over-built in most areas around the country and it will take growth at each and every local level to consume the excess inventory of homes.

We know that when trying to sell any commodity, when supply is far higher than the rate of demand, pricing pressure ensues and values drop until more buyers are drawn to the values available. Knowing this, you might be surprised when I accurately and confidently state that

Real Estate Is Always A Sellers' Market

But it is true. And if this something you don't understand, you should read on.

Homes Are Unique

The great thing about owning a home is knowing that it is not exactly like any other on the planet. Our homes are unique, as our individual touches make them special to us and our families. Because of this, there is no "shelf" to display them upon when it is time to sell them, and the value of the home will be based upon what similar homes can be purchased for at that specific moment in time.

Homes Are A Necessity

The one thing for sure is that our society has no desire to move back into caves. I am fairly confident that real estate will be a recognized commodity for the remainder of my life, and well into the future. People need a home, so there will always be some level of demand for housing. So why do some reports say "now is the time to buy" and yet others say "be cautious, this is a buyers market?"

Understanding The Difference Between "The Housing Market" and "Your Housing Market"

This is a point lost on many real estate consumers, and unfortunately even misunderstood by many real estate "professionals." There is a housing market that is larger than any one person, and we can study this market, identify current supply and demand relationships, and then determine whether or not the housing market is currently in a buyers' market or a sellers' market.

But what we cannot do is conclude that this market influence has ultimate control over the saleability of a specific home. You see, ultimately, the seller gets to decide his or her asking price, and this alone will determine whether or not that seller is priced to be in a sellers' market or a buyers' market. To fully understand this, let's look at a specific example.

Home Owners Can Choose To Be In A Sellers Market

Let's say there is a home for sale that is worth roughly between $150K and $200K, but more accurately closer to the $200K level. The homeowner decides to sell the home and must determine an asking price. Here are some thoughts based upon our current market conditions where there are a glut of homes for sale:

  • Asking Price $210K - This home seller "doesn't want to leave any money on the table" so he asks an amount that leaves room for negotiation. By pricing it here, the seller has made many homes on the market appear more attractive than his, and thus he has placed himself in a buyers' market. Prospective home buyers get to choose whether or not they want to look at his home and whether or not they want to make an offer. There is no fear that they will "miss out" on this home, as everybody knows it is a buyers' market and this home (at the current price) is easily replaceable.

  • Asking Price $195K- This home seller has priced the home for roughly what is appears to be worth. Unfortunately, with over a year's supply of homes on the market, that does not mean a buyer is going to feel compelled to make an offer today. If this home sells, there are hundreds that can replace it, so buyers still have the edge (because we all know that it is a buyers' market, right?).

  • Asking Price $180K- This home seller has priced the home for less than it is worth. He knows that there is only 1 home in every price range "that is a steal," and thus he has made his own private market a sellers' market. He can motivate buyers to act today, because they know what is available and this is absolutely the best deal out there. If the seller is too low, the competition among buyers will often times bid the home right back up to what it is worth (if it doesn't, what is it really worth?).

Home Buyers Better Understand What Type Of Market There Is For Each Specific Home

Understanding that buyers have tons of homes to view often makes them think they need to use the same offer strategy for each and every home. But using the example from above, home buyers do not want to approach each home the same way.

The first home requires some study to determine what the home is really worth, the second home will require a little negotiation, but the third home requires responsiveness. It will sell today, and if a buyer wants the home, a "full price plus" offer is what it is going to take to purchase the home.

The biggest mistake made by buyers today is trying to negotiate with a well-priced seller. While there are not many sellers doing this correctly, the ones that are have complete control of the process of selling their home. I have seen buyers fall in love with homes that are priced below all competition but make a low-ball offer, then they get upset when the seller sells the home to somebody else. Think about it...

Home sellers who price competitively will use a low offer to get a higher bid from another buyer. Don't make an offer that they will say "no" to. If you are looking to buy a short sale or foreclosure, and you think you can steal it, you might be right. But the "steal" level is easily determinable by a real estate professional who understands the market inside and out, and if you offer below that amount, you will not get the house.

Moral Of The Story

If a home seller is asking too much money, they most likely will not sell due to conditions in real estate right now (see home sales failures). But if they are priced to sell, they will sell at or above their asking price. They can and do create favorable conditions to sell a home, so sellers should employ this as their pricing strategy and buyers need to recognize a deal when the see it. They are few and far between, but if you snooze, you lose!


Joe Manausa, MBA is a 26 year veteran of real estate brokerage in Tallahassee, Florida and has owned and managed his own company since 1992. He is a daily blogger with content that focuses on real estate analytics and providing his clients with a tactical advantage in today's challenging market.

22 Responses to "Why Real Estate Is Always A Sellers' Market"

The Ten Best in RE.net This Week: May 1, 2010 Edition wrote: [...][...] ) Why Real Estate Is Always A Sellers’ Market – I really like his explaining to buyers whey you cannot have a standard strategy when making [...][...]

Posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2010 at 6:16pm.

Benjamin Koshkin wrote: For knowledgeable buyers who can move quickly there are deals available even in good markets such as Houston.

Benjamin Koshkin

Posted on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 at 6:45am.

Daniel Beer wrote: The point you made near the end regarding buyers who can't see a deal when it hits them in the face is what most resonated with me. It has been my biggest frustration over the course of the last year. Just recently I showed a buyer who has been waiting for that great deal to come around a home that is listed at a price that I never thought we would see. What did he do? Low ball offer of course. But the truth about buyers like this is that they are not buyers at all. More importantly for them, they are missing out on opportunities that they will not find in the future.

Posted on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 at 3:17pm.

Joe Manausa, MBA wrote: Yeah Dan, unfortunately, many buyers are just scared. The irony is that they make sure they use a technique that won't get them a home ... they should just sit back and wait until prices start rising again rather than put themselves through the strain and worry of "making a wrong decision." There are a few really good buys out there in a sea of "not so good buys," so you would think a prudent buyer could tell them apart.

Posted on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 at 3:25pm.

Dodgeblogium » CoTV in the middle of the British GE (hence its late) wrote: [...][...] [...][...]

Posted on Friday, May 7th, 2010 at 2:08pm.

Thomasstar wrote: nice information..

Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 8:48pm.

Tax On Home Sales wrote: [...][...] sheltered for married couples, so the 3.8% tax would apply to the gain above that amount. How many Tallahassee homeowners are in a position to profit more than $500K on the sale of their home? Considering less than 3% of [...][...]

Posted on Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 11:04am.

Harvard Housing Study: US Needs Job Growth | Liberty Pundits Blog wrote: [...][...] Manausa writes a regular blog for the Tallahassee Real Estate Web Site and is a guest and featured writer on many US based real estate web sites. Sharereddit_url = [...][...]

Posted on Monday, June 21st, 2010 at 11:30am.

Robert Speirs wrote: Not to be overly cynical, but wouldn't a realtor in a slow market be anxious to convince sellers to list houses for less than they are worth, since some commission is better than no commission?

Posted on Sunday, July 18th, 2010 at 1:56pm.

Set The Asking Price For A Home wrote: [...][...] regarding how to set the asking price for a home. The question stemmed from the blog titled Why Real Estate Is Always A Sellers Market, where “Robert S.” [...][...]

Posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 at 11:48am.

Joe Manausa, MBA wrote: Robert,

Thank you for an exceptional, insightful question. I liked it so much, I used it for today's blog about <a href="http://www.manausa.com/how-to-set-the-asking-price-for-a-home/" rel="nofollow">how to set the asking price for a home</a>. I hope this answers your question.

Posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 at 11:51am.

Jason Stuyvesant – Des Moines, IA Realtor » Blog Archive » Interesting Commentary on Buyer/Seller Markets wrote: [...][...] This is an interesting take on real estate markets by Joe Manausa down in Florida. Here is the original article [...][...]

Posted on Sunday, October 24th, 2010 at 8:33pm.

Understanding Home Valuation wrote: [...][...] many homeowners do not know how to price their home to sell, so they are languishing on the market with no conceivable chance of being sold. The art and the [...][...]

Posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 11:55am.

Top 10 Real Estate Blog Posts Of 2010 | Liberty Pundits Blog wrote: [...][...] Why Real Estate Is Always A Sellers’ Market (22,858 Views) – It is always a sellers’ market in real estate, and knowing why this is true [...][...]

Posted on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 at 10:15am.

Robert wrote: I agree homeowners can choose to be in a seller market under normal circumstances; but we are not in normal circumstances. If the owner set themselves up with too much debt and then loose their job as is happening, them they have less options and that is exactly the problem we have today. They have to unload quickly. Too bad those owners problems affect all owners in the short run. But if you have your house paid off, then you can control the price and elect to sell on your terms.

Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011 at 12:21am.

Save Money By Knowing The 4 Stages Of The Home Selling Process wrote: [...][...] “It’s all about me” – The first stage starts with simple reasoning. Home sellers determine their current situation and then consider the optimal outcome. They start doing some simple “me” math … “I need to get $X from the sale to buy my next home, and I currently owe $Y on the home, so I’ll go ahead and sell it for $Z and that will get me what I need.” It is simple, it is logical, but unfortunately it has nothing to do with the current market value of their home. If a seller in this stage of the process consults with a weak real estate agent, then the house goes on the market for $Z and it will fail to sell (If you need more information on why pricing a home to sell matters, please refer to this link for pricing information in real estate). [...][...]

Posted on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 at 12:01pm.

pete wrote: Why buy at all. The housing market - sales and price - continues to go down month after months, just check the facts. You gets a better deal by waiting. Sorry realtors, the market won't come back at least for 3 to 5 years time.

Posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2011 at 7:13pm.

Joe Manausa, MBA wrote: Pete, you speak as if you are an investor. But what about those that plan on living here for a while. They don't want a rental, they want a home of their own. And they want today's interest rates. Do you think rates will still be this low in 3 to 5 years?

Posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2011 at 11:41pm.

Steve wrote: MOST buyers set themselves up so they buy at the top everytime. They currently think things will keep going down, just like they thought things would keep going up at the top(big mistake huh?). They buy and a year later it goes up, they hold on and on and they are happy until the whole bubble bursts... The market may go down a bit more, but if you wait for it to start picking up, I assure you will pay more than today. Once one jumps in, they all jump in and the prices move up quickly. Even the best investors can never perfectly time the top or bottom, but if they are within range they do very well. I have talked to many Real Estate pros and they say they almost never remember a time when people were so scared and negative. Sounds to me like BUY BUY BUY. Wait 5 years and you will be buying at or near the top again

Posted on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 at 8:00pm.

Joe Manausa, MBA wrote: Steve, I think most people don't look at the market like an investment vehicle, rather it's a personal decision about moving. I wish I were as confident as you that five years from now would be "top of the market," but I suspect the recovery will take more time.

Posted on Saturday, July 9th, 2011 at 2:52pm.

Steve Mouzon wrote: Wow, this is completely not making sense! A Buyer's Market occurs when conditions are favorable to buyers (prices are lower than normal) and vice versa. This article attempts to completely reverse the definitions by shrinking the "market" to a single seller, but the argument is counter-intuitive. But I can find no definition of "the market" that includes just one buyer or one seller. Without such a definition, the title makes no sense at all. What am I missing?

Posted on Friday, November 18th, 2011 at 10:30pm.

Joe Manausa, MBA wrote: Steve, a buyer's market occurs when supply out paces demand, while a seller's market occurs when demand outpaces supply.

When a seller drops his/her price, the supply of similar homes (at the new price level) drops, thus creating a seller's market. If you look at an exaggerated example, it becomes obvious and clear.

Imagine you have a million dollar home, and you change the asking price to $100K. This would be a perfect example. The supply of million dollar homes that can be purchased for $100K would be 1, while the demand would most likely be hundreds/thousands. That is a sellers' market.

Now take the concept to a non-ridiculous level, there is a pricing point in every market where that million dollar home switches from a buyer's market, to balanced, to a seller's market. Top real estate agents are going to be able to show the seller those pricing points.

Posted on Saturday, November 19th, 2011 at 11:41am.

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