Buy My House! - Part 1

There are more than 3,000 homes for sale in the three coastal counties right now. Would you believe that nearly a third of those homes, have been sitting on the market for at least five months? Bridgette Weatherly is one of many sellers who are wondering, what it's going to take to get someone to buy their house.

"We've updated our kitchen with ceramic tile, granite counter tops, stainless steel new appliances, and all of our lighting."

Weatherly has been trying to sell her home since September. In that time, she's only shown it to about three potential buyers. The three bedroom house is located in Park Place, a desirable Gulfport neighborhood, which in years past, never kept homes on the market for long. Now, it has four.

"It's amazing that we have four houses for sale in this neighborhood at one time. In the 14 years we've been here, I've never seen that. So that right there tells you we're in some sort of housing recession if you don't believe it."

Weatherly says when her family decided to sell their home, and move into a larger one, she expected it to take some time.

"It's a little frustrating, because gosh, we've done so much to our house, we have such a nice house, we feel like it's such a great bargain, but there's just not people out there to take advantage of it. People just aren't buying right now."

Ocean Springs realtor Lynn Wade agrees. She says she can't recall ever having this many listings at once.

"It's a lot more challenging then it has been in the last several years. I've done more marketing in the last six months than I have in the nine years that I've been in real estate."

Wade organized an open house for realtors hoping to gain some exposure. She says a few years ago, it would have only taken about 30 - 45 days for a home to sell. Now, You can expect to wait about five times that.

"122 days to 160, somewhere around there. So it's taking a good you know, you should expect five to six months to sell your house now," says Wade.

And the numbers prove it. According to local listings, 1,321 homes in south Mississippi have been for sale five months or longer. So why aren't more people buying right now?

Wade told WLOX, "I know last year, in 2007, we were down 30 percent in sales, so I personally, with my experience, it was mainly an insurance issue."

Weatherly has been shopping for homes herself, so she knows insurance is a huge issue to consider.

"The price of insurance is so high since Katrina, and so that tends to add a lot more to a house note than it normally would."

That's one reason Weatherly listed her home for $27,000 less than its appraised value.

Other sellers are also dropping prices to entice buyers. Compare listings from six months ago, and you find homes $40,000, $90,000 even $155,000 lower today. Prices are even falling for new construction.

Sandra Hutchinson is a realtor for Gant and Shivers builders, who says change is on the way to Hengen Place, a new development off Brodie Road in Biloxi.

"We are negotiable for the first time ever for Gant and Shivers. There was an over-building after Katrina. Now we have to make the changes get the inventory moved, and the way we do that is by making some price adjustments."

Hutchinson says, lower prices combined with lower interest rates, is great news for buyers.

"It is a great time to buy. Buyers right now, have an opportunity of a lifetime. The Gulf Coast will rebuild. The Gulf Coast is going to come back very very strong."

As for those trying to sell homes, Bridgette Weatherly has this advice:

"Be Patient. That's it. Be patient and look at alternatives."

Meanwhile, Realtor Lynn Wade is optimistic this slow down, will soon pass.

"I think we're going to be o.k. We just need to hold on a little while."

Realtors agree lower-priced homes, say below $200,000, are selling faster. They also agree the three keys to selling a home are location, condition, and price. Sellers have to be willing to come down on the price, and you have to make sure your house is in excellent condition before showing it. You'll find advice on how to stage your home to better impress buyers, in Part 2 of Meggan Gray's special series.