List/sale price gap diminishes

Home buyers still are paying less than a home’s asking price, but had slightly less negotiating power in August than they did in July, according to the August Zillow Real Estate Market Reports. Buyers paid a median $6,525, or 3 percent, less than the last listing price on homes bought in August, down from $7,018, or 3.3 percent, less for homes bought in July, according to the report. Negotiating power peaked in January 2009, when buyers were paying 4.5 percent less than last listing price, a median of $10,096.

Sellers also continued to cut prices on unsold homes. One quarter (24.7 percent) of all homes listed for sale on Zillow had at least one listing price reduction as of Oct. 1, 2009. For the U.S. as a whole, the median U.S. price reduction was 6.6 percent off the original listing price.

Several Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in Florida made the top 25 list of markets nationwide with the greatest gap in list price to sale price; no MSA in California made the list. In two California markets, buyers paid more than asking price during August, according to the report: In the El Centro MSA, buyers paid 2.2 percent, or a median $2,479, more than asking price; in the Stockton MSA, buyers paid 1.3 percent, or $2,515, more.

“Negotiating power is a clear reflection of inventory levels, which dropped nationally in August. Tighter supply in some markets is translating into less of a discount off listing price,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “Unfortunately, the brisk spring and summer home shopping season is drawing to a close now, and with foreclosures on the rise again, inventory levels will likely head back up in the coming months, leading buyers’ negotiating power to regain the ground it lost in August.”

Brought to you by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®  and the BEVERLY HILLS/GREATER LA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

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