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Keepin' It Real Estate: The Sellers Are Coming - Be Very Afraid


Getting to the "bottom" of the housing market.

Imagine you own a home.

Chances are, at some point in the past 3 years, you've heard that nagging voice in the back of your head - the one that whispered, "sell, sell, sell." You watched as prices tumbled and buyers evaporated like morning dew.

But then you opened the paper, and there, in plain black ink, you saw that virtually everyone in both mainstream and financial media called this the worst time to sell a house in over 80 years.

What's a seller to do?

The days of holding are past. The time to sell is upon us.

After a seemingly endless cascade of truly horrific news out of the US housing market, the last few months of quasi-positive data have proven to be a much-needed respite from the storm. Sales activity is up, price declines are moderating, and confidence appears to be returning to the market. That ever-elusive bottom in housing, despite being widely misunderstood by the vast majority of commentators, could finally be upon us.

Imagine you own a home. What would you do?

It's only logical that given (perceived) renewed strength in the housing market -- driven by lower prices, rock-bottom interest rates and generous tax rebates -- buyers are wading back into the fray.

Of course, conventional wisdom says it's indeed a great time to buy. The National Association of Realtors, that cheerleading mouthpiece and chief lobbyist for commission-hungry real-estate professionals everywhere, concurs. The National Association of Homebuilders -- a group representing the likes of Toll Brothers (TOL), whose CEO, Robert Toll, and his brother Bruce pocketed more than $770 million during the boom -- says we're experiencing "some of the best home-buying conditions of a lifetime."

After years of abysmal conditions in which to sell a home, finally, there's some demand and confidence returning to the market, they tell us. Willing and able buyers are pouring back into the market. And as they do, sellers -- buoyed by newfound confidence -- are prepping their homes for the market.

Washington, the media, and indeed, the financial markets are focusing on the demand side of the housing equation. Meanwhile, back on Main Street, far away from contrived efforts to prop up the housing market with spin, the sellers are coming.

What comes next won't be pretty.
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