FORT WORTH, Texas – More than half of real estate agents who responded to a survey believe that the national real estate market will hit bottom sometime in the beginning of 2009, according to the Campbell Communications marketing research firm.

Fifty-two percent of agents said the country will see the bottom of the housing market in the first six months of 2009. An additional 7.7 percent said prices have already bottomed out, and 16.5 percent believed that the bottom will happen in 2010 or later.

“When you get to March, you’re really entering into the spring-summer home-buying season, and that’s when sales pick up,” said Thomas Popik, who designed the survey, which Campbell Communications released this week. “I think a lot of them feel intuitively that as sales pick up, prices are also going to firm up or solidify at that point.”

The survey of more than 2,500 real estate agents also identified the three most resilient markets in the nation for selling homes.

“If we had to pick three states in the country that are large states and where property prices really haven’t declined very much and employment has held up, the three states that would fit that criteria would be Texas, North Carolina and Washington state,” Popik said.

Nationwide in September and October, individuals made up 59 percent of home sellers. But they faced significant competition from distressed real estate, with 29 percent of the properties being bank-owned and 12 percent being short sales. Bank-owned properties have usually been through a foreclosure, and short sales are used by sellers to avoid a foreclosure.

Of the real estate agents surveyed, 19 percent of buyer agents and 15 percent of seller agents say home sales dropped between September and October.

The survey indicates the challenges buyers and sellers have in buying property.

Home buyers are stymied by not being able to sell their current homes, by having difficulty getting financing and fearing that home prices will continue to fall, according to the national survey.

“People are waiting to hear that the market has hit bottom,” according to a respondent in the survey. “They are afraid to purchase and then have their home value decline immediately by 10 percent or so based on what is happening to other properties in the neighborhood.”

Sellers are also unrealistic about what their home will fetch on the market, pricing it well above the going rate.

“Competing foreclosures are a major problem for sellers to get the prices they need for their properties,” one respondent said. “These are not necessarily high prices, but many times prices for the seller to just break even.”

Campbell Communications, based in Washington, D.C., conducted the survey Nov. 1-8.

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