Study Reveals Best Technique for Pricing a Home

The best technique for pricing a home when listing it for sale is setting the asking price just below a round number, according to recent research published by the Journal of Housing Research – an official publication of the American Real Estate Society (ARES).

“These findings will help real estate brokers and sellers of homes develop more informed listing and marketing strategies to better suit sellers’ needs,” said Ken Johnson, Ph.D., ARES publication director, real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business and co-developer of the Beracha, Hardin and Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index. “The results of this study take a lot of guess work out of the marketing of homes for real estate brokers.”

The study looked at 1,000 buyers in Virginia considering a pool of more than 370,000 listings. The researchers were able to determine the impact of “rounded pricing” listing strategies versus “just below pricing” listing strategies.

“Our study suggests that by using the just below pricing strategy sellers can price their home slightly higher without driving away potential buyers,” says Eli Beracha, Ph.D., of Florida International University, who conducted the study with Michael J. Seiler, Ph.D., of The College of William & Mary. “As a result, they end up selling their house for more.”

How does dropping your asking price ever so slightly impact the final outcome?

“On average, buyers are more attracted to a house priced at $199,000 than to a house priced at $200,000 and it appears that ‘just below’ pricing works out favorably for sellers in terms of their bottom line,” Beracha explains. “Based on our research, the ‘just below’ pricing strategy yields a selling price that is, on average, roughly 2.5 to 3 percent higher, $5,000 to $6,000 on a $200,000 house, compared with a rounded pricing listing strategy.”.

While residential real estate agents widely disagree on the appropriate pricing strategy to use when listing residential real estate for sale, the researchers found that homebuyers more often prefer homes priced using a “just below” pricing strategy. This preference allows sellers to list their home for a higher initial listing price.

On the other hand, due to the demand effect, rounded priced homes typically have shorter time on the market and a lower discount relative to listing price. Their findings suggest that sellers’ ability to set higher listing prices for properties using a “just below” pricing strategy outweighs the lower discount and shorter time on the market associated with similar rounded priced strategy homes.

“We tested the age-old debate concerning the best technique to price a home when listing it for sale,” Seiler says. “We find that using a price just below a round number works best, particularly in connection to the left-most digit in the price. So, $199,000 works better than $200,000.”

For more information, visit

Hill Slowinski, JD, REALTOR®   (DC, MD, and VA)2014 Logo .25
W.C. & A.N. MILLER REALTORS,  A Long & Foster Co.
Residential and Commercial Property Sales

Consultant, SLOANS & KENYON Luxury Real Estate
Board Member, The Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce
Member, Charles County Chamber of Commerce
#9 Agent in Washington Metro region

Top producer – Sales, Listings, Rentals 2015

Long & Foster Chairman’s Club 2016

OFFICE: 4701 Sangamore Road • Bethesda, Maryland  20816
Tel: 301-229-4000  •  Fax: 301-229-4015
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Brexit Vote Drives Down Mortgage Rate

Brexit and the US Mortgage Market

Mortgage rates have fallen to new lows as global investors turned to the 10-year Treasury note as a more stable investment. Affordability, in turn, has increased, with lower mortgage rates making it easier for move-up and first-timers to get into a new home. Similarly, international buyers, who might have had their eyes set on London or other European destinations, are finding the U.S. housing market much more attractive.

In the most recent Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.41 percent, just slightly above the all-time record low. This is likely to result in a boost in housing activity, particularly refinance, as homeowners take advantage of the current low rates.

“With the U.K.’s decision to exit from the European Union, global risks increased substantially leading us to revise our views for the remainder of 2016 and all of 2017,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Nonetheless, the turbulence abroad should continue to create demand for U.S. Treasuries and keep mortgage rates near historic lows; thereby, allowing home sales to have their best year in a decade, along with a boost in refinance activity.”

Results lead experts to expect growth rebound in the remaining quarters of 2016 to show GDP at 1.9 and 2.2 percent in 2016 and 2017. In light of recent global pressures, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage forecast has been revised down for both 2016 (by 30 basis points) and 2017 (by 50 basis points) to 3.6 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively.

Based on these low mortgage rates, expect the refinance share of originations to rise to 49 percent for 2016, 8 percentage points above last month’s forecast. This translates to about $100 billion more in originations, bringing the total for 2016 to $1,825 billion.

With June’s much-improved employment report over May’s release, expect unemployment to average 4.9 percent in 2016 and 4.8 percent in 2017.

The house price appreciation forecast for 2016 remains at 5.0 percent, and in 2017, 4.0 percent.

With lower rates comes increased purchasing power, so if you’ve been thinking about buying a home—whether it’s your first purchase, a vacation home or an investment property—now’s the ideal time to make the move.

As always, I’m here to answer any questions you might have about buying and selling real estate. You can also begin your property search online at the new Our new site allows you to search for sale, for rent and sold properties, as well as browse for homes by mortgage payments.

Take a look at the site and feel free to contact me with any questions on the real estate market!


Hill Slowinski Elected to Executive Committee of Bethesda Chamber



 Hill Slowinski, through W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors, A Long & Foster Co., Christie’s International Real Estate, and Maryland Settlers LLC, is honored to have been asked to serve as a Vice President and on the Executive Committee of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and to commit time and effort to participate in the vibrant business community which The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce support.

Hill has been active serving on the Chamber’s Board of Directors and Real Estate, Membership, and Legislative committees. The Chamber has provided access to current and future developments, insight to dynamic business and living environments, and a foundation supporting where Hill’s clients love to work, live, and play.  Hill is grateful for the many Bethesda residents who have relied on him for expert guidance on residential real estate.

As an award-winning Realtor and Top Producer,  he has helped a range of clients exceed their expectations, benefiting first-time buyers, growing families, investors, builders, developers, empty-nesters, estates, and individuals in transition with Bethesda area homes in all price ranges — from condos to single family homes to luxury estates.

W.C. & A.N. Miller, founded in 1912, is an established presence in premier residential developments in Montgomery County and Northwest Washington neighborhoods.
You receive the highest standards of attention to detail and client care demanded of Christie’s International Real Estate affiliates. Helping people in their real estate matters is Hill’s only business.
F. Hill Slowinski, JD, REALTOR® (DC, MD, and VA)
W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors, A Long & Foster Co.
Christie’s International Real Estate
Direct: 301-229-4000, ext 8430 · Cell: 301-452-1409
4701 Sangamore Road, Bethesda, MD 20816

Options if You Inherit a Mortgage

Even if your name’s not on the actual mortgage, when you inherit a home with a mortgage, the bank considers whoever owns the home the debtor. In fact, many mortgages require the inheritor to notify the lender if the mortgagee dies.

The scary part is that the bank can and some will demand that the heir pay the remaining balance on the mortgage in full within 30 days. Others will work with you to help you refinance the loan or to work out payment arrangements for the balance due. Typically, if you’re a relative and are planning to live in the house (instead of renting it out), you’ll be allowed to assume the mortgage.

However, if you inherit a mortgage debt that you cannot afford to pay, the bank may end up foreclosing on the property. On the plus side, you will not take a hit on your credit report for the foreclosure since you were not the one who took out the loan. Of course, selling it is probably a better option, if that’s possible, as noted below.

Meanwhile, don’t assume this won’t be a problem. Conventional wisdom holds that when the elderly die, the mortgage is long paid off. However, according to the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), 30% of homeowners over 65 still have mortgage debthere as of 2014 with balances in the $40Ks to $80K.

Keep in mind that while you are deciding what to do, you have to keep the payments up including any taxes and insurance. Otherwise the bank may foreclose on you.

What if You Can’t Afford to Pay?

If you can’t afford to pay, your best bet is to try to sell it. In some markets that easier said than done. It may not be ready for resale. There may be thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades that need to be done in order to make a healthy enough profit to inherit any money.

If you can’t sell it, you can work with the bank to work out an arrangement for a short sale. That way the bank repossesses the home and whatever they make off of it satisfies the balance of the loan.

Worst case scenario if you can’t afford to take over the mortgage, refinance, sell, or convince the bank to accept a short sale, you can just let the house go. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners during the housing collapse just abandoned their homes. Of course their credit reports took major hits but yours will not. Still,  you will lose the house, so this is a last resort.

Your Options

Depending on what state you live in you may have other options. You should talk to an estate lawyer before making a decision. But if often comes down to three broad choices:

•    You Take Over the Loan – You can just keep paying on the mortgage just as the deceased did. Keep in mind you still have to inform the lender that you are taking over.

•    Refinance at a Better Rate – If you have better credit you can refinance and get a lower monthly payment or to lower your interest payments.

•    Let Go of the Home – You could let the home go and use the proceeds from the sale to pay any of the other debts of the estate if those are many.

Have more questions? Feel free to contact me anytime.

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Homeownership Builds Wealth & Offers Stability

Homeownership Builds Wealth & Offers Stability | MyKCM

The most recent Housing Pulse Survey released by the National Association of Realtors revealed that the two major reasons Americans prefer owning their own home instead of renting are:

  1. They want the opportunity to build equity.
  2. They want a stable and safe environment.

Building Equity

John Taylor, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, explains that those who lack the opportunity to become homeowners have a weakened ability to reinvest their wealth:

“We traditionally have been huge supporters of homeownership. We see it as a way to provide stability for households but also as an asset-building strategy. If you continue to be a renter, locked out of the homeownership arena, increasingly those things are further and further out of reach. They’re joined at the hip. They perpetuate each other.” 

Family Stability

Does owning your home really create a more stable environment for your family?

survey of property managers conducted by disclosed two reasons tenants should feel less stable with their housing situation:

  • 68% of property managers predict that rental rates will continue to rise in the next year by an average of 8%.
  • 53% of property managers said that they were more likely to bring in a new tenant at a higher rate than negotiate and renew a lease with a current tenant they already know.

We can see from these survey results that renting will provide anything but a stable environment in the near future. 

Bottom Line

Homeowners enjoy a more stable environment and at the same time are given the opportunity to build their family’s net worth.

Is Now the Right Time to Put Your House on the Market …or Not?

Last week, the National Association of Realtors(NAR) released their Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings. The report revealed that this May’s numbers weren’t quite as good as the year before:

“With last month’s decline, the index reading is still the third highest in the past year, but declined year-over-year for the first time since August 2014.”

The mainstream media ran headlines highlighting that the index had dropped for the first time in two years. Many read this as an indication that the housing market must be slowing down.

If you were thinking that now may be the perfect time to put your house on the market, these reports may have caused you some concern. We want to alleviate that concern today.

Though it is true that the index dropped in last month’s report, let’s take a closer look at the numbers. Below is a graph of the index since January 2014. We can see that the index has increased every month over the last eighteen months, leading up to this past May.Is Now the Right Time to Put Your House on the Market …or Not? | MyKCM
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, explained that it wasn’t a slowing of the market that caused the index to slip, but instead a lack of housing inventory:

“Total housing inventory at the end of each month has remarkably decreased year-over-year now for an entire year. There are simply not enough homes coming onto the market to catch up with demand.”

Here is a graph depicting the situation Yun was referencing:Is Now the Right Time to Put Your House on the Market …or Not? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Did the latest numbers from the Pending Home Sales Index cause you to question if now is a good time to put your house on the market? If anything, it indicated the exact opposite: that this may be the perfect time to sell!!


5 Homes Built Out of Spite

Take a look at some of the most obnoxious spite homes below.  Fences wouldn’t make a difference in the dispute, except they would be a cheaper alternative!

The Froling Spite House
Located on a spit of land in Alameda, Calif., a city between Oakland and San Francisco, this 10-feet deep home was erected around the early 1900s by Charles Froling, whose dreams of building a home were dashed when the city seized the majority of the land to make way for a street.

The Hollensbury Spite House

At (an imposing) 325 square feet, this 1830 Alexandria, Va., home was built by John Hollensbury, owner of the neighboring properties pictured above, to prevent horse-drawn carriages and ne’er-do-wells from accessing the alley between the homes.


The Randall Spite House
Constructed in the 1800s by developer John Randall, this Long Island, N.Y, home, located in Freeport, sits on a triangular plot of land outside the parameters of a grid set by a rival builder.


The Skinny Spite House
Situated in the North End of Boston, Mass., this post-Civil War era home has more than one origin story. Locals say the entry-less home, 10.4 feet at its widest, was built by a soldier left with a sliver of land after his brother took the lion’s share of their father’s inheritance.


The Montlake Spite House

Constructed in 1925, this 860-square-foot home in Seattle, Wash., is shaped like a slice of pie. Depending on who you ask, the home may have been built by an insulted land owner after a low-ball offer from the neighbor, or by a jilted divorcée left with a slice of land by her ex-husband.

…..  Just some interesting fun real facts about real estate!