Housing Woes: Price Reductions Are Proliferating

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Scott Olson / Getty

A home for sale on May 12, 2009 in Elgin, Ill.

Nearly a quarter of the homes listed for sale in the U.S. have had at least one price reduction, with an average discount of 10% off the original asking price, according to an analysis by the listings site Trulia.com. The analysis shows that of the nation's 50 largest cities, Jacksonville, Fla., is the most marked-down market, with 39% of houses there having undergone a price chop.

You don't have to go to Florida, though, to be reminded that if you're in the housing market right now, the thing you want to be is a buyer. Marked-down properties account for more than 30% of listings in 15 other cities, including Boston, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Honolulu and Tucson, Ariz. Even that may be an understatement of the discounts that are to be had: houses that were taken off the market and then relisted at a lower price weren't included in the analysis.

Ranking cities by the extent of price reductions gives Detroit the title of most discounted city. The average markdown in Motown is 21% off the original listing price. That figure doesn't include foreclosed properties — and would surely be higher if it did. The next largest average markdowns can be found in Las Vegas (16%), Miami (15%), New York (13%) and Phoenix (13%).

That may seem dismal to anyone waiting for a housing-market rebound, but there is also some cause for cautious optimism in the Trulia analysis, which plumbed listings from brokers, agents, third-party aggregators and multiple-listing services on July 1. Some markets that were hit early and hard in the housing bust have been seeing a declining percentage of markdowns the past few months. In late April, for instance, 33% of houses in Los Angeles had been reduced in price. In early June, that figure inched down to 32%, and in the most recent analysis, it had dropped to 24%. The average markdown has become slightly less desperate as well — from 13% off the original price to 12%.

"It gives a sense that the market is starting to stabilize in these hardest-hit areas, that sellers are having more reasonable expectations," says Trulia CEO Pete Flint. Though with the percentage of markdowns increasing in most other parts of the country, the deals aren't likely to go away anytime soon.

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