Help! Home for sale
Notes from all over on the difficulties of selling real estate.
By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Home price increases have slowed nationwide and even reversed in many markets. Inventories are up and new home builders are cutting back. More and more sellers are having difficulty selling their properties.

We've profiled some of these sellers and that has produced a flood of reader emails from other troubled sellers.

How bad will the housing market get?
  Regional bubbles will burst
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  Too early to say
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Some are from homeowners who live in one-time red-hot markets who not too long ago watched their neighbors sell for huge gains.

Others are sellers writing in from areas that have not experienced any outsized appreciation, who do not expect to reap any windfall profits and yet still are having difficulty attracting any buyers. Here is a sampling...

Dazed and confused

Sellers have reacted to the quickly changing market almost with disbelief.

K. Gordon, Amarillo, Texas: "I bought a brand new house in Amarillo. Unexpectedly, 4 months later I had to move back to south Florida . . . 'Not to worry,' I thought. A new, fairly priced house will sell quickly.

14 months and 3 agents later, the house has not sold. I've tapped out my credit making payments on that house as well as my current rent.

My latest agent is an investor. . . . When he finds a buyer, he buys the house from me and then sells it to the buyer with owner financing. He has never failed to sell a house. Recently, he told me that it appears that this house will break his perfect record."

Price no object

Many sellers believe that their homes are priced right - even cheap - yet they still fail to sell.

Harris Swofford, Atlanta suburb: "My wife and I have had a house on the market in for 7 months now without any appreciable interest in it.

I built the house in 1986 for $65,000 and it has an acre of very nice kid friendly land. When we first listed it, our agent talked with other agents and a price of $139,900 was thought to be a price to get it sold. We slowly started moving the price down every few months but to no avail. It is currently listed at $129,900."

More homes than they can afford

For some sellers selling their old home quickly is critical: They've already made other plans.

Tom Shipp, Seattle: "My partner and I purchased a new home in Seattle, before we listed our current home on the Eastside. Our agents were confident that our current home would sell in 2 weeks and advised that we not make a contingent offer on the new house. . . . [the bid] was quickly accepted.

Ninety plus days, a second mortgage, and a bridge loan later we are still trying to sell our Eastside property! We just made our first double mortgage payment and are feeling desperate and depressed. We are supposedly still in a "hot" market and our property has what the agent's say are the three mandatory factors for a quick sale; price, location, and condition."

Pat Berry, Virginia: "Our house has been on the market in North Springfield [near Washington, DC] since July 15. In that time, only two people suggested any interest by taking time to tour the property. My husband is due to retire on Sept. 30 and at that time, we will be carrying two mortgages on 1 and 1/2 incomes. Needless to say, my fingernails are chewed to the quick."

Glut reaction

Many real estate agents in formerly hot markets blame excess inventory for slow sales.

A reader in Central Florida: "We put our house on the market at the beginning of July 2006 for $289,900. Since then we have dropped the price to $267,000 and have only had 2 showings. Our agent keeps telling us that there is a lot of inventory in our neighborhood and that price will be the thing that makes our house stand out. Our problems is that having only owned the home 1 year there is very little equity so dropping the price much lower will result in us actually having to pay to sell our home!"

Near misses

A few of our respondents seem to have just barely missed the market.

Jerrod Leder, St. Paul, Minnesota: "In late April 2006 we put our condo on the market, listing it on the low end of 1 bedroom condos with a garage in the area.

We almost had an offer within the first week, but the buyer wanted west-facing windows, of which we have none. Since then it has been difficult to get as much as a showing let alone an offer. From Memorial Day through Aug. 15 we had 2 showings and one was by mistake."

Rick Weaver, near Charlotte, North Carolina: "The house has been on the market for 1 year and one month. I have had one offer on the house and they wanted me to sell it to them for $20,000 less than the asking price. This was the first and only offer. All of the realtors I have talked to say that I can ask more than the 133,900 for this house. But I am afraid to ask for more. It's not selling or even being seen for that matter."

No sympathy

One group of e-mailers provided a genuine surprise because they were inordinately unsympathetic to the plight of some sellers. That people might derive pleasure from other's pain is no shock - schadenfreude is alive and well. What was unexpected was the vitriol, the vehemence of their attacks.

An anonymous submission: "how can you folks at money use these two idiots in fla. as an exaple of a slowing housing market???? they're very overpriced (greedy) it youself fools..(instead of hiring a pro from the get go...(real estate agent in the area)...and should really knowbetter than to hold two mortage commitments at one time..(again..idiots)..when they can probably barely afford the first mortage...shame on them....this is not represenative of the current housing is represenative of folks who haven't a clue of how the housing market, banks, and money and investment works....(again..idiots)...they deserve what the've gotten themselves into....they have only themselves to blame...(wonder who they'll blame for their impending divorce)..."

And another not quite as angry example: "They have a 2,861 sqft hose and they want more and more and more and a pool too - boo hoo. Suck it up folks - a 2800 sqft more than big enough to 'start a family' in. Perhaps they should take stock in the expensive lesson they are learning - do not count your chickens before they hatch."

Same boat

But we, on balance, receive more e-mails sympathetic to sellers.

From Sid and Judy Tobias: "Just read the story about the couple in Orlando. I would love to send them my sympathy as my wife and I (who are currently in Japan with the military) have also been on the market since March in the Tampa Bay area. We have dropped our house price 3 times.

This house is only four years old and in my opinion is a beautiful house.

At the current price (310k), it would be a steal for any family moving to the area we would think. It is a beautiful 4 bedroom, 3 bath 2600+ sq ft house in a gated community in a nice part of Riverview. As of today we have had 2 open houses and have had only 3 people even LOOK at the house since it went on the market. My realtor and others are just stumped in what to do about the lack of traffic. The couple in Orlando are not alone."

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