Video: Housing: On the bubble?

By Anne Thompson Chief environmental correspondent
NBC News
updated 5/24/2006 7:55:55 PM ET 2006-05-24T23:55:55

It was a blistering 97 degrees in Phoenix on Wednesday, but for home sellers here, there's a distinct chill.

Bob and Barbara Grey bought a suburban home with a waterfall, swimming pool and a putting green, but still haven't sold their old house. It's been on the market 126 days.

"Nobody's even negotiated a terrible price, that we would say 'are you kidding?'" says Bob. "I don't even have that."

Why? Along with mortgage rates, in once hot markets, the number of homes for sale is on the rise. ZipRealty reports the following increases compared to one year ago:

  • 166 percent more in Los Angeles County
  • 266 percent more in the Miami area
  • 394 percent more in Phoenix

In the first three months of this year, a record number of homes were for sale in Massachusetts. That helped newlyweds Elizabeth and Joseph DelGuidice get a 1,300 square foot home in Plymouth.

"Being patient and watching and waiting saved us over $30,000," says Elizabeth.

Bidding wars are being replaced by price cuts. ZipRealty reports the following sale price reductions:

  • 28 percent of the homes in Los Angeles County
  • 35 percent in Miami
  • 38 percent in Phoenix
  • 43 percent in Boston

As the housing bubble loses some air in these markets, the balance of power is at long last shifting to the buyer. Still, nationwide, the vast majority of sellers are making money on their homes, just not as much as they hoped.

The National Association of Realtors says last year's double-digit appreciation will be cut by more than half this year, falling from 12.2 percent in 2005 to 5.7 percent in 2006. That's a sign, experts say, that the market is returning to normal, not that a bubble is bursting.

"It's going from being an overheated, unrealistic, crazy market, to being more normalized and more what most people would be happy to be in," says Patrick Leashinsky, senior vice president of ZipRealty.

Even with four price cuts, the Greys in Phoenix will still reap a hefty profit from their old house. Like many sellers, the only question is when.       

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