If you do all the right things, buyers will come - maybe not with the money you hope for, but come they will.

"Price it properly and make sure it is in move-in condition and with no major issues to scare buyers away, and it will sell - maybe not for as much as you want, but probably more than you paid for it," said Mike McCann, an associate broker with Prudential Fox & Roach in Center City.

Here are examples of two of his clients:

Darrell and Sarah Zechman listed their house for sale in the 2000 block of St. Albans Street, a few blocks south of South Street, in late winter when Sarah got a professorship at the University of Chicago.

"Given what the market is like, we were concerned, especially when other houses on the street went up for sale," said Darrell Zechman, an investment counselor.

"We listened to everything Mike told us," Darrell Zechman said, confirming the advice by doing his own research and "trying to be realistic" about the asking price.

The house sold in 45 days despite the competition, for $330,000, $15,000 less than they sought, but more than the $255,000 they paid in 2004.

"The house had been rehabbed when we bought it, so we just took out some furniture to make the place look more spacious for showings," he said.

"We're happy," Darrell Zechman said.

It took Todd Cohen five months to sell the house at 19th and Waverly Streets, near Lombard, that he had owned since 1998 so he could buy in Naval Square nearby.

"I was antsy during the process. Mike and I talked a lot, and we tried different things," said Cohen, who works in sales.

Prices must fit a changed market. In April 2007, a comparable house in the neighborhood sold for $553,000. McCann suggested reducing Cohen's asking price to $499,000, and the house sold for $475,000.

"I'm a little disappointed with not getting what I'd hoped," Cohen said, "but at 46 [years old], $30,000 to $40,000 less doesn't mean as much."