Ten percent off on homes...your time to buy?

When we heard late last week that Coldwell Banker was announcing a 10-day "sale" to start last Friday, you can imagine our skepticism. Here we were looking at the worst week in stock market history, and buyers are supposed to rush out their local open house listings?

If you go to ColdwellBanker.com and you can see which listings in your area are participating in the 10-day sale. I just looked and there is one house in my ZIP code that reduced it's price by $50,000 (slightly less than 10%.)

I had a chance to talk with Jim Gillespie, President and CEO, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, last week about the promotion.
  • More than 30,000 sellers have agreed to reduce the list price on their homes for the 10-day nationwide event. The price reduction can be as much as 10% off, but obviously not all sellers will reduce it this much. At the same time, you can make an offer for more than 10% off the list price.

  • Also, Coldwell Banker Mortgage will waive its appraisal fee if you do make an offer on a house and it is accepted. This generally ranges from $250-$500 depending on the price of the home.

  • Don't forget, there's a federal first time-buyer tax credit of $7,500 that expires next July 1.

  • Lastly, this promotion is something that CB has already successfully tested in Florida and the New York City area. What they found was that 85% of sellers kept their homes at the reduced sales price even past the 10-day period, and 10% of the reduced price homes did sell.
I asked Mr. Gillespie where he thought the bargains were, and he said the data he's seeing out of California is unreal. Values have dropped 40% in the past three months and buyers have come flooding back in to the market, picking up foreclosures and short sales. If you are interested in short sales or foreclosures, Mr. Gillespie says that most of the bank-owned properties are listed in your local MLS.

While the stock market fell, rates have risen steadily in the past week, so between the reduced prices on these and other homes, and the relatively cheap cost of borrowing, you do have a chance to get a deal between now and Thanksgiving that may be a once in a lifetime chance. But forget those flipping shows we all love, you need to plan on staying in the house for at least three to five years.

Sellers: If your home has been sitting on the market for 60-120 days, you have to be willing to try something to get some buyers interested in your home. Would you rather drop the price 10% now or in March after it's been sitting on the market for six more months? If you don't sell by Thanksgiving, you may be better off taking your home off the market for a few months.

Speaking from experience, it is not easy to close a real estate deal as you get closer to the holidays. To me, this promotion makes complete sense for buyers and sellers to make a last gasp attempt to get something done before Halloween.

If you had the moxie to make a bid on a home last week, we bet you got it for a steal, but this weekend might not be a bad time to play let's make a deal.

For more information on short sales, foreclosures and first time buyers, go to AOL Real Estate.

Brett Widness is an editor with AOL's real estate channel and a licensed agent in Virginia. Find homes for sale, foreclosures, home values,real estate finance and apartments at AOL real estate.
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