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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 5, 2008 at 5:17 PM

Selling and buying homes

Reality bites

Editor, The Times:

A house is worth what someone will pay for it [“More sellers are growing desperate as homebuying stalls locally,” Times, News, Oct. 2]. These three “would-be sellers” [Jason Stanifer, Victor and Lisa Kepler, and Dave and Kim Mantel] listed their homes at stratospheric prices. Though they reduced their asking prices, at least two of the three are not yet down to market level, because they still haven’t sold.

Before you ask us to weep for the Keplers — who have dropped their selling price $200,000, to “only” $1,165,000 — you might have mentioned that they bought the place six years ago for $562,500, and that King County appraises it today for $778,000.

They say they can “ride out the market.” What they’re forgetting is that when prices rise to the level at which they’re willing to sell, the prices for that Bellevue condo and the Arizona home they want to buy will have risen by an equal or greater amount.

Houses that are priced realistically manage to be sold. Overpriced ones stay on the market. Let’s say you listed your house in March and overpriced it by $50,000. If today you drop the listed price by $50,000, it will still not sell because your house will no longer fetch the price it would have gotten in March. And there is no reason to believe that it will sell next year for as much as it would sell for right now.

Thousands of houses in King County that were bought or refinanced in the last two years are now worth less than their mortgages. Banks selling off foreclosed houses will price them realistically. The seller who bought or refinanced at the top of the market is not going to net enough even to cover his mortgage.

This is the reality of a declining market.

–Laura Billington, Maple Valley

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