When to put our house on the market?

catpersonMarch 24, 2012

We have bought a townhome in a city about 50 miles away from us in which to retire. DH is retired, but I don't plan to for a couple of years. We are renting the townhome to a nice young professional couple on a two-year lease.

Our question is when do we list our current house? We don't want to sell before we can move out, but we also don't want to leave an empty house here. We plan to price our house to sell, but it is a historic house in a transistional neighborhood, and it will be harder to sell.

Also, I sleep mornings due to my work schedule, so won't want it shown before noon. Will that be a problem? We also have an aging cat who has started peeing in unwanted places. We try to keep up with the cat odor, but in humid weather, you can smell it.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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We similarly sold our house to downsize. In our case, DH and I lived separately while the house was on the market with our pets going to the new house with my husband.

Pet odors are a huge turnoff to people. And, what we found was that even if we couldn't smell the litter box (and we cleaned it out regularly) some prospective buyers were very sensitive to even the odor of the box (let alone the peeing in unwanted places) and would immediately be turned off on the house.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 12:39AM
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Well now, timing is always the thing, isn't it?

You cannot predict how long it will take your current home to sell.
No matter how well you research days on the market, no matter how well you price, no matter how aggressive your realtor is, the timing of selling, closing, and moving is always open to delays.
If you don't stay flexible you will lose your mind trying to micromanage things far beyond your control.

Obviously, do not renew that lease.
I'd put the old home up for sale 3-4 months before the lease expires and then be sure and let them know you are renting to them on a month to month basis afterwards.
The rest is up to fate :)

You can specify hours that your home is available for showing.

Confine that cat to one easily disinfected room and stock up on enzyme cleaners. You could even get a large, roomy crate or even a cool multi-level cat cage to confine the animal as cat pee is the devil.
DO NOT allow that animal to roam your house!

I have to say though that inappropriate elimination is the first symptom of many easily remedied medical issues.
If this cat has not seen the vet over this issue, go now.
If he has been in the past he needs to go again.
If the health of the animal is not a priority for you consider the cost an investment in selling, because the stench of cat pee will halt even the most interested buyer right in their tracks.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 7:35AM
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Thanks for the replies. Katsmeow, the idea of living in separate houses while the house is on the market is a good idea, and one that we hadn't thought of.

Cearbhaill, we do not intend to renew the lease, and will rent to them on a month-to-month basis after the lease has ended if they still want to live there.

We have had the cat to the vet numerous times for this problem, and no medical reason can be found. We have had many cats over the years, and the male (all neutered) cats tend to spray the inside walls of the front of the house whenever there is a cat on the porch. This cat also does that (there is probably a permanent smell there that he can smell but we can't), but the dining room problem has been going on for about a year or more. We will probably take katsmeow's advice and have my husband and cat move out while the house is on the market.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:29PM
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"We have had many cats over the years, and the male (all neutered) cats tend to spray the inside walls of the front of the house whenever there is a cat on the porch. This cat also does that (there is probably a permanent smell there that he can smell but we can't), but the dining room problem has been going on for about a year or more."

Ugh- just confine the cat to another area of the house and find ways to keep strays off your porch, problem solved. I can't imagine living with that- one of mine missed the top of a litter box once and immediate steps were taken so that it would not happen again.

That smell might be imperceptible to you but I guarantee house shoppers will smell it. You have a date with a bottle of enzyme cleaner- read the label and let it soak in well. IMO that is your only hope because cat pee is a dealbreaker- I can't imagine walking into a home where it has been going on for that long.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:54AM
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Will do! Thanks! Maybe our friends are just polite, but I always ask them if they can smell cat pee, and they say no.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:23PM
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Your friends are being polite. Nothing is worse than cat pee. I wouldn 't buy a house with it. I have friends with cats and dogs and it makes me sick. She has no idea that it smells. I know people who had to replace oak floors because the urine had soaked in so much it couldn't be removed. I hope your situation isn't that bad. Deep cleaning and deodorizing as well as confining the cat is the best idea. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 7:02PM
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Cat pee is something that most buyers can smell a mile away. This is a much bigger problem than your timing. Which I don't quite understand since on the day that your current home sells, you can move directly into your townhome, No?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:54AM
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The timing problem is that I still have a little over two years before I retire, so can't move until then.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:24PM
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Timing is very important.

Right now there is a flood of foreclosures coming on the market daily selling for a very low price. All these foreclosure comps will bring down the amount your house will be appraised at. Comps will go 2 miles out all directions from your house. If not enough comps within the 2 miles then comps further away will be used. Many comps are not in a comparable neighborhood or as well kept as your house.

I don't think foreclosures should be included in the comps, however they are.

Perhaps closer to time of your retirement the election will be over, foreclosures off the market,and hopefully the housing market will be on the way up.

How do I know this? Experience, currently selling a house with no comps in the area and several foreclosures within a 2 block distance still on the market.

Other states may have different rules regarding comps, however in DFW area of Texas the above is the way it goes these days.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 2:47PM
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I remember looking at houses in the northern Chicago suburbs. One gorgeously furnished lovely old home had all the windows and French doors wide open on a cold late winter or early spring day. I noticed all these half moon water marks on the silk upholstery and around the lovely oak half pillars on the walls. After we left it finally dawned on me, DOG PEE. They had an old dog who obviously had been peeing on anything touching the floor--pillars, casements, upholstered furniture, etc. We never went back.

And, it was clear that the sellers, who were there to meet us, were quite anxious. I would be too. I can't imagine the work it would take to make that house sanitary and odor free. I am sure original oak floors had be be removed.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:28PM
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