kats_meowMarch 30, 2011

We relisted our house the first week of March and had 4 showings in 2 days and received an offer from one of those. Buyer saw the house one time before offering. Buyers were cash buyers so from contract until closing was only 19 days.

I've posted a lot over the last year as we were listed last year and didn't sell. So, FWIW, my musings on everything.

1. We spend quite a bit getting our house ready to sell (new carpet, new paint, some new appliances, refinishing floors, new granite countertops). Since we had to bring a check to closing it is easy to regret having done this. Yet, I do think it made the house look much more updated and probably did help us. That said, we could have probably just done the carpet and paint and maybe the appliances and skipped the rest. We did get flack for having mismatched tile downstairs and if I had to do it over again I would have carpeted over the tile that we had put in that didn't match the other tile downstairs (we had planned to eventually do it all but never got to it).

2. We did have a stager come in. They were helpful in giving us suggestions on what to do (for example to wood but the actually staging part I don't think did much for us beyond what I could have done.

3. Interview more than one agent. When we were listing I was uncertain whether to go with the agent we had worked with several times before (mostly in buying but also in selling some land we owned). I trusted that agent so didn't talk to others. As it turned out it was obvious later that the agent did not give us good advice on what price to list for since we said we wanted to sell fast and wanted to price on the low end. I think the agent thought the advice was correct but it wasn't. Maybe if we had talked to a couple of others we would have priced better from the start.

4. I wish I had asked her at the time if there was anything negative she noticed about the house that we needed to do anything about. Early on, we had some negative feedback on something that we didn't realize and she said she had known it all along. Why she didn't say anything I have no clue... We did get it modified but it caused some wasted time.

5. We did a realtor open house and it was helpful. That was where I got feedback on some negatives I had not realized and I first found out the price was too high. That said, we lost a couple of months when we were first listed with a price that was too high.

6. Reducing prices while the house was listed the first time didn't do much for us. Maybe by the time we reduced it was already June and by then our market is slowing and nothing was selling much.

7. Taking the house off the market for about 3 months did work well for us. The listing expired after Thanksgiving and we took it off until the first week in March. I was uncertain whether to do that but it did give us the opportunity to come back on as the market was heating up. It is true fewer houses were on the market when we were off but I followed the sales and not much was selling either.

8. Price. When we decided to relist we talked to a couple of agents well known in our area and who have the most sales. I asked both of them what to list at. Both felt that our last listing price or higher from when our listing expired was a fine price supported by comps. (The one who said higher believes that you should generally price at the top of the search price range and that anything in the middle of the range -- where we were before -- doesn't get you any additional people to look at the house so is a waste of time). Then I asked them what they would list at to make it very likely that we would sell within 3 months (in our area it is very common for houses to take over a year to sell -- the house across the street just sold over being listed almost 3 years. It is the exception for a house to sell in less than 6 months). Both of them suggested the top of the price range below the one we had been listed at. That was difficult to do because that price was a full $100k below the original listing price and they both felt a price that was over $35k above that suggestion was supported by comps. But the carrying costs on the house were high and we wanted to sell now and not in another year. So we went for the lower price.

9. Our big fear had been that we would list for this really low price (and yes it was well below comps) but that a buyer would come in with a really low offer thinking they should get another 10% off. That was typical for most houses that sold in the area. Thankfully, that didn't happen. The offer we received was very close to that last listing price.

  1. But was it the price? It is easy to say that we sold so quickly because we priced the house where it was more favorably priced than other comparable house. And I would have said that.

And yet.... We had spent a lot of money when we moved into the house doing some expensive, yet not typical fencing (double gating, a couple of small fenced areas, etc.). We never expected to get back that money and knew that some people wouldn't like that fencing. At the closing, the buyers commented about how when they first saw the house they thought our fencing was perfect. And, of course, it was. For anyone who has dogs. We had set up the property for having multiple dogs and that is exactly what the buyers were looking for. So, maybe the price wasn't everything or even anything. (That said, I'm sure the low price was attractive and if it had been priced higher they might have never looked at it).

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Thank you for this advice and musings. They are very helpful thoughts. We are being told to retile our bathrooms and put in new carpeting, but I am resigned to the idea that we may have to rent it out for a year, so I really don't want to spend money on carpeting and tile, that could easily be ruined by renters. We were in the process of renovating our home and have it about 85% of where we wanted it to be. However, my husband was laid off in 2009 and then under-employed until receiving his dream job offer in Florida this January, that we just couldn't refuse. When you know you are already having to bring money to the table when selling your house, it is so hard to stomach sinking even more money into the house. And I am not sure doing these changes would make it more saleable. It is a high end house in our market, where NO high end houses seem to be selling. (even the brand new ones at truly giveaway prices!!)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 2:56PM
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Wow! an offer in 2 days and closing 19 days after that. Good job!

Thanks for sharing your experience and suggestions.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 4:19PM
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It was really good of you to take the time to write specifics about your experience. Great post.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 6:10PM
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Congratulations for closing! And thanks for sharing all that.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:54PM
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I am so happy for you. Cash is always king!

Don't regret sprucing up the house. It sold and that was the most important fact. It could have sat another year and your life would have been on hold. Wasn't worth it.

Congratulations and good luck!


    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 12:58AM
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Good job Katsmeow. You were wise enough to do what it takes to become a winner in this market. When I go into a listing agreement, I pull the "winners" and the "losers" of the last 12 months that are comparable to the sellers home. The winners are the sellers that did what it took to sell. The losers are the Expireds and Withdrawns. Most neighborhoods here have a 50/50 chance of falling into one or the other. (there are just as many solds as there are losers) You did what it took to be one of the winners... good job.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 6:30AM
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Always nice to visit here and find that someone's house has SOLD! Good for you!

I hope that detailing your experiences will help someone else. Unfortunately, in a falling market, you have to bite the bullet if you need to SELL -- not just be on the market. I hate to think about how many homeowners have spent the last three or four years reducing their prices, 'following the market down'. (Note that I don't call them 'sellers'; that's because they aren't!)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 11:48AM
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I am curious about your experiences with the stager. Not sure I understood your comment above, did they suggest you refinish the floors?

We are trying to figure out what to do in order to get our house ready to put on the market in a couple of weeks (short notice) and I am wondering if it is worth hiring a stager.

I do appreciate your suggestions. It can be tough to agree on what to do. We are for sure planning some carpet, painting and appliances. I am debating having the tub in the master bath resurfaced in white (it is grey now) not even sure if that is possible!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 4:40PM
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Sorry about that. I think I dropped a word or two in there. The stagers did a couple of things for us. They came through and give us advice as to what to do that they felt would be worthwhile. We knew we were going to recarpet, repaint and replace some appliances. They suggested a number of things. Replacing cultured marble vanity in master with wood. They suggested wood framing the mirrors. The vanities in the master were painted wood already. They had us paint the vanity and the frames a very dark brown and then paint the built in cabinets white. I never would have thought of that and it looked great. They suggested a great color to paint the house (I like it so much I may use it in the house we build).

They also did a lot of running around for us. We were really busy with working at the time and I had no time for it so they went to Home Depot and found faux wood blinds for us and found a new light fixture for the half bath.

That was all very helpful and well worth the cost.

Then once all that work was done they did all the staging in terms of rearranging furniture as well as telling us what to remove and then loaning us some pieces. In truth, I think that most of that was less helpful. It wasn't that it was bad, just that I had sold houses before and done that part myself so there wasn't much new there for me.

I will say that there approach was to be very spare and not have a lot of decorative things. We actually had a couple of comments from agents at the agent open house that the house needed more decor.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 5:25PM
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Boop, we refinished our tub to sell our house and it came out great. Old, ugly bathroom with green tile, sinks, toilet, floor and tub. Everything was green!

We put in a white toilet, white vanity and sink and had the green tub refinished. We left all the old green tile but the change made the bathroom look decent.

Original tub with new white toilet

Refinished tub with new vanity

It was well worth the money. With that large green monster, we could not make that bathroom look decent.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 9:59PM
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Congratulations for getting the house sold.

"I wish I had asked her at the time if there was anything negative she noticed about the house that we needed to do anything about. Early on, we had some negative feedback on something that we didn't realize and she said she had known it all along. Why she didn't say anything I have no clue...".

I am curious as what kind of negatives that you did not realize but it seems that the agent and others noticed right away.

Thank you for sharing the lessons learned.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 7:23AM
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Thanks so much for the pictures jane_ny. That looks amazing! the only thing I am worried about is that this is a tub with jets. the jets are grey too. I wonder what they do with them? I will find some places to call and ask.

Thank you for the updated information katsmeow. It sounds like overall you found great stagers.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 11:24AM
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Jane! I loved your bathroom the old way! Oh man, it was so cool! I LOOK for those old fixtures when I'm house hunting! I remember when I bought this house and the lady came over to visit about a month later. It's a 1944 farmhouse. She updated a lot. When she saw all my antiques, she said, "Oh, you would have loved all the old doors that were in here. I just threw them down in the Dumpsters." My heart was so broken. I said, "You would have gotten more money from me if they'd still been here!"

We all have different taste! lol (I'm sure what you did will attract more people. It looks nice.)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 11:43PM
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I am curious as what kind of negatives that you did not realize but it seems that the agent and others noticed right away.

Pet odor. We had removed our pets a few weeks before listing the house (we had cats indoors). We didn't think there was any odor and couldn't smell anything (I have allergies with a poor sense of smell). Our cats always used the litter box, didn't spray, etc.

It turned out that there was still a faint pet odor that was noticeable to some people, but not everyone. Our agent has a very sensitive sense of smell and when a couple of agents mentioned it at the agent open house she told us she had noticed it all along. Really? She knew we spent over $25k to make the house ready to sell and she never mentioned it!

It was very irritating because it was hard to figure out what to do to get rid of it particularly when neither DH or I could smell it. By the time I found out we had been listed for several weeks (no buyer feedback had mentioned it). We did get it worked out but just one more thing causing us delay during the prime selling season. By the time we knew about it and took care of, the market here was starting to wind down (the prime market is between March and June) and it was mid-May by the time we knew about this).

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 11:44AM
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kats_meow, thank you for getting back with the answer.

Pet Odor! Wow!

I can relate to the story of "smell". I have very sensitive sense of smell. After we closed the house we now live in, we got the key and opened the front door. The horrible cats� smell made me very sick, but DH could not smell a thing. I refused to move into the house until we replaced the flooring, cleaned the walls, repainted every rooms, and after the house passed blacklight and (my) nose inspections.

It was a huge expense that we did not plan to spend that soon.

In retrospect we wondered why I did not notice the odor until one day it occurred to us that all the appointments we had while looking at the house were set at or around dinner time; we remembered the strong food smell in the air.

We love our home, so at the end, things all worked out.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 11:24PM
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