Somewhere along the way (probably when houses were selling before going in the MLS), the mentality about real estate prices shifted. It used to be that an agent would show a client homes around their price range that fit their needs and if they liked a home they would make an offer. Then came the craziness. Suddenly, buyers/agents would only look at homes that they thought were accurately priced or below their maximum price. (of course, if you are paying full price that maximum is really important).
Then the market shifted and we came to where we are today. The price at which a property is offered is based on previous sales, current demand and seller motivation. It is the Listing Agent's estimate of what the house should sell for. Most (although not all) sellers understand this. THE PRICE ON A LISTING IS NOT NECESSARILY WHAT A BUYER WOULD PAY! We all know there can be some seller ego in pricing, sometimes fair sometimes not. This will occasionally cause a listing price that is above market.
So I am suggesting that Buyers try to shift their thinking...make an offer! What is the worst thing that can happen? The seller could reject the offer and not counter. What is the best thing that could happen? The seller could accept your offer. What is the likely thing that will happen? You will enter in to a negotiation where you get the property for a fair price and they sell it for a fair price.
Let's get back to solid (and expected) negotiations. That means that buyers need to accept that some of the houses that they will look at are above their stated maximum. Why not look at the more expensive homes? You never know what motivates a buyer. You might end up with a nicer home for the same price you expected to pay all along. I have had buyers accept low-ball offers (with no counter) simply because the purchaser was flexible about the move in date. It also means that Sellers need to accept that the listing price is not necessarily going to be the sales price.
I think we are getting back to this type of market, but it takes some shifting of the buyer mindset to get there. So here is my advice to buyers: if you see something you like, make a reasonable offer. You may be surprised to find the seller is receptive!
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