Help! Home for sale
'It's very frustrating,' says Terry Likens. He and partner Duane Przybilla are ready to move on but can't get any interest in their townhouse in Eden Prairie, Minn.
By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Travel agent Terry Likens and his partner, contractor Duane Przybilla, own a three-bedroom, four-bath townhouse in Eden Prairie, Minn. They would rather have a single-family house with more space and a backyard.

So they want to sell - but these days, that's a problem.

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Terry Likens (left) and Duane Przybilla in the living room of their townhouse
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When they bought their home for $294,000 in June of 2004, real estate inventory was flying off the shelves, even in the relatively calm markets of the Upper Midwest.

Homeowners in the Minneapolis metro region had enjoyed steady house price increases for years - an average of 9 percent a year for the 4 years through June 2005, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO).

In the year since, prices grew just 4.7 percent.

For Likens and Przybilla, the problem is not that their townhouse has been on the market so long - it's been only four weeks - it's that it has attracted almost zero interest.

"The hardest part is not being able to pursue new properties," says Likens. "We already lost the house we really wanted."

Prime condition

The failure to attract any buyers is not the house's fault - it shows well. The pair bought it new and opted for several upgrades, including cherry wood cabinets, ceramic floors, Cambria countertops and a custom built bar. There are crown moldings, stainless steel appliances and about 1,900 square feet of space.

Everything's in mint condition and Eden Prairie is less than 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis.

Despite all that, only two showings of the house have taken place since it was put on the market. Likens doesn't think the price, $327,900, is the problem. It was arrived at with lots of input from Mary Condon, their Coldwell Banker Burnet agent, and other area brokers. They even held an open house just for agents so they could get feedback on how much they should ask.

Of the two buyers who have looked at the home, "One older couple didn't like that it has three levels," says Likens. "They didn't want to climb stairs."

According to Condon, Minneapolis market conditions are still decent, but the Likens/Przybilla property is in a challenging price category.

"There are currently 140 similar priced homes (between $250,000-$350,000) in Eden Prairie, and there's a 7.9 month supply of homes in this price range," says Condon. "It's important to point out that Terry's home has been on the market only for 30 days, and the average time on market for all properties in the Twin Cities is 70 days."

Condon says all it will take is a little more patience and they will succeed in selling the house.

Not selling has hurt, though. Losing the house they wanted hurt even more.

"We made an offer that was quickly accepted and was contingent on our house selling," says Likens. "The sellers were willing to push the closing date back to Nov. 30."

Likens and Przybilla lowered their asking price from $334,900 on the townhouse and sat back waiting for the bids to come rolling in. Nothing happened. Then, they heard that a family from California had made an offer on the house they wanted.

"We basically had 48 hours to sell our place," says Likens, "which didn't happen."

The alternative would have been holding two mortgages at once - an option that would have made them even more anxious to sell and could induce them to accept a really low bid.

Already they don't expect to make any money on the sale. "By the time we pay the selling expenses we're not going to turn a profit," says Likens.

Meanwhile, the partners are halfheartedly looking at other listings, but, so far, only on line.

"Do we want to put our emotions into finding the right property, getting a proposal together and putting up earnest money without knowing if we can sell the townhouse?" says Likens. "It's very frustrating."

  • Best places to live
  • Recently bought a new home and can't get sell your old house? Maybe Money Magazine can help in an upcoming feature. If interested in sharing your story, contact Stephen Gandel, at stephen_gandel@moneymail.com.
  • How is the deflating bubble affecting you? If you're home isn't selling, e-mail us at yourhome@money.com.
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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.