You may be hearing that things are improving in the residential real estate market, and while that is true, not every area is experiencing the euphoria yet.

Elaine Abercrombie

Elaine Abercrombie (Roe Anne White photo)

Even where sales are making gains, it often still depends on the ranges of listing prices — bargain foreclosures, midrange homes or high-end properties.

My last two columns addressed the approaches that buyers and sellers should take when the transaction involves homes in the first two categories, but luxury listings are a different story.

Between the economy and the credit crunch, this top 10 percent of listings is suffering, largely because many lenders aren’t committing to financing such large loans.

As high-end prices are still soft, buyers who do qualify for financing have more power in negotiating these sales.

However, seek loan pre-approval before you make any offers. Jumbo loans may require larger down payments at slightly higher rates, and qualification takes time.

As the seller of a luxury home, you may have to bite the bullet and undercut your competition, if you’re truly motivated to making a sale.

Use your Realtor’s competitive market analysis to make your pricing decision, as well as the market velocity, and if you can, offer to finance the home yourself.

With fewer buyers who qualify for the high-end market, recovery may take longer, so you shouldn’t hesitate to be more creative than your neighbor and offer other concessions to make your sale happen depending on your motivation.

Elaine Abercrombie, a broker with Abercrombie Fine Homes at Village Properties, is president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. She can be contacted at