Dian Hymer has a great column.

Even though the home-sale market is slow, some listings sell quickly. Others don’t. What accounts for the difference?

Boy oh boy, isn’t that a question a lot of people have asked themselves!

In this kind of market, buyers have a lot of choice. The sense of urgency to buy is less. If buyers don’t see exactly what they want, they are happy to wait until the right house comes along.

And boy, don’t real estate agents see a lot of this, buyers who are in no hurry. They think prices aren’t rising, so why hurry? Prices may even go down. Because homes aren’t selling very fast, your favorite home will likely still be available next week.

It’s useful to consider the features of listings that sold recently in your area. In a low-inventory seller’s market, most listings sell. The best houses sell faster, often attracting multiple offers and a higher price. But, even the less-desirable listings sell when the appreciation rate is so robust that buyers feel the risk is higher if they don’t buy than if they do.

When homes are appreciating rapidly, buyers fell that a less than ideal home will still be a good investment and if they don’t buy one now, prices will be higher tomorrow.

In a soft market, subtle differences between one listing and another can explain why one sells quickly and another doesn’t. For example, in the Oakland/Berkeley area of Northern California, the features that command a premium are a location within walking distance of a commercial district with shops and cafes, level outdoor living from the main living level, a sunny exposure, three-plus bedrooms and at least two bathrooms. If your home lacks these sought-after features, the list price of your home will need to be calibrated in order to compensate for the deficiencies.

It’s frustrating to see other houses sell with multiple offers when your home doesn’t even receive a nibble. Why wouldn’t one of those buyers who lost out consider your home?

The answer is that buyers are less willing to compromise in a soft market. In a hot market, by contract, the sense of urgency is heightened because buyers fear that the longer they wait to buy, the more they’ll have to pay.

In a softening market, you need to undercut your competition to grab buyers’ attention.

When buyers have so many comps to look at, your home has to be priced under the comps just to grab a buyer’s attention.

The risk of holding out for a price that’s too high in a softening market is that you will end up having to make price reductions and chase the market down.

Sellers often believe that “chasing the market down” is a Realtor fairytale… that is, until they look back and see that’s exactly what they’ve done.

THE CLOSING: Sellers with homes that have incurable defects, like a lot of stairs to the front door or a location on a busy street, will need to make significant price accommodations to make their homes appealing in a slower market.