Higher mortgage rates and lower demand have knocked American home sellers back on their heels in the past few months.
Nearly one-third (31%) believe it's no longer a good time to sell, according to a new Clever Real Estate study of 1,000 Americans who sold a home in 2021 and 2022.
Today's sellers face a dramatically different market since the pandemic boom ended in May. As the Clever survey shows, they face these four new realities.
1. Sellers are more likely to sell below asking price
As home supply increases and buyer demand shrinks, sellers are settling for less than asking price on their homes.
The Clever study found that more than one in five sellers (21%) sold below the list price, with 2022 home sellers 27% more likely than 2021 home sellers to sell for less.
"Sellers know the market has changed, and they know they need to adjust, but they're very unclear on how much," says Lisa Cole, a Cleveland real estate agent. "Prior to July and August 2022, we were able to price homes higher than the most recent comps and still have multiple offers. This was because the market was trending upward, and we were able to meet it.
"Since interest rates have doubled, we need to look at the most recent comparables and price their home right in line with those homes. In some instances, we may want to price the home slightly less than the comparables to create that sense of urgency that seems to be waning."
Even with a conservative pricing strategy, two-thirds of sellers (63%) had to reduce their price, according to the Clever study.
But beleaguered buyers shouldn't celebrate yet. U.S. home prices hit an all-time high of nearly $455,000 in the third quarter of 2022, and they remain high — even if they must be reduced to sell.
2. Sellers are more likely to make pre-sale repairs
When the housing market was hot, many buyers were willing to waive an inspection to snag a home. But today's house hunters are much more reluctant to skip precautionary measures and overlook certain deficiencies.
Home sellers in 2022 were 25% more likely to make repairs than home sellers in 2021.
In times of economic uncertainty, home buyers don't want to inherit expensive home repairs on top of a higher mortgage payment. In fact, 38% of deals that fell through in the past year were because of problems found during an inspection.
"Homes will need to be fixed up and be better than other homes on the market," said Tim Gordon, a real estate developer in San Diego. "It will be very important that the home shows well compared to the other properties prospective buyers are also viewing. If it isn't, the only thing that will attract a serious buyer is a lower price, so plan wisely."
To generate more interest and earn a higher profit, more than one-fourth of Americans (25%) wish they would have made repairs before listing their home, making it the most common regret among sellers, according to the Clever seller survey.
Additionally, one in five sellers (21%) said they should have staged their home.
"Using every possible type of media available to market a home tactfully and creatively is a necessity now that the fuel that was stoking early 2022 market demand has been exhausted," said Ken Sisson, a Southern California real estate agent.
3. Sellers are more likely to make concessions
Buyers have regained a bit of bargaining power as the market slows.
Although more than one in three Americans (34%) wanted to sell their home without making concessions, about half (17%) who said it was a priority had to accept buyer-friendly terms, according to the survey.
In particular, 2022 home sellers were 58% more likely than 2021 home sellers to say they made concessions.
"Even though the market, by the numbers, is still a seller's market, the negotiations feel more like a buyer's market," Colorado-based real estate agent Sean Gilliam said. "It's a matter of perspective."
To entice buyers into signing a contract, sellers are primarily offering to pay down the buyer's interest rate, Gilliam said. But they may also consider closing costs credits that would provide buyers with immediate savings.
4. A good real estate agent is more important than ever
Changes in the housing market make finding a good real estate agent more important than ever. At a time when homes are lingering on the market and selling for less, agents can leverage their knowledge of the local market to secure a fast sale for the most money possible.
The survey found that sellers who hired an agent were 13% more likely than those who sold by owner to sell their home in less than a month.
Agent-assisted sales are also more likely to net a higher profit. Sellers who hired an agent sold for a median price of $318,000 — about $58,000 more than Americans who sold their homes by owner, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
"Sellers should make sure the agent they choose has a good grasp of the comparables in the area and makes a strong case for the price they are recommending," Cole said. "Now is not the time to choose an agent who is inexperienced. More than ever, you need an agent who has your back and will be able to squeeze as much profit out of the sale as possible."
In addition to fetching a higher sale price, an experienced agent can make the home-selling process easier by tackling stressful tasks, such as organizing showings and negotiating with buyers. In fact, among Americans whose home-selling process was easier than expected, 51% said it was because they had a good agent, according to the study.
Meanwhile, more than one in five sellers (21%) who had regrets about their home sale said they should have sold with an agent.