First time seller - stressing myself to death

jennyzone5March 20, 2014

I bought in 2008. I thought the market had bottomed out. I bought on USDA rural housing loan with 0 down. Stayed in my son's school district and intended to move in 2011 when he graduated. The market had other ideas.

Was finally able to put the place on the market just under 2 weeks ago. When you take all the fees into account, I am iffy on whether I'll make a few grand, break even, or lose a few grand. I have no emotional attachment to my house, feel like I'm realistic. I let my realtor set the selling price, I just want to move out of this city. Having said that, here are some questions:

I've had 2 showings in the time I've been on the market, both were ones that called same day. My realtor is a friend of mine and new to the game, so while i trust the same time I don't.

The 2nd showing was this evening, and they took one of the info packets. I know when I was looking I didn't take a packet unless I was thinking of making an offer. Should I take this as a good sign?

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You really cannot guess who will make an offer on your house. For example I met a couple at the house I sold when a realtor just showed up with them. I left for them to view the house and came back later after they left. As I drove away I saw their car come back to the house.

"Great I thought. They like the house so much they are taking a second look at the outside of it." I then observed them park their car in front of my house and walk to the neighborhood bar without giving my house a second look. Yep, they parked on the wrong side of the street in front of my house to use it as a parking space.Then told the realtor they were considering the house. I didn't hold my breath on that.

I had a lot of characters view my house and you might too. My favorite was the guy who "hated the black tile in the bathroom" and gave my house a scathing review in his feedback. I didn't have black tile in the bathroom. There was no tile in the bathroom at all and the room was painted beige and white. Or the obese lady who thought my regular sized stairway was too narrow. It is the same sized stairway you find in just about every colonial house. Then there was the person considering an offer but thought my beige kitchen was too dark even though it had two windows and a door with windows that brought in natural light. I started to wonder "Who are these people?"

Tomorrow is a new day and it may bring your buyer. I was just as stressed as you seem to be and felt let down every time someone viewed the house and did not make an offer. Then a got a full price offer with a buyer who made the sale painless. Hang in there.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 1:35AM
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Your agent should be able to estimate very closely what your proceeds from he sale will look like. Ask her for a Net Sheet.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:38AM
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I think OP means she's not sure about what the house will sell for in the end.

Your RA should have given you information about what else is currently on the market, past sales, including time on market, asking, and selling price.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 2:33PM
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Remember that the world is full of every type. You might feel it wasteful to take a sheet if you aren't considering an offer, but most people are going to take one. So don't read anything into that, or you will drive yourself nuts.

What I think you should explore with your realtor is, who is your competition. Have your realtor sit down with you and view online all inventory in your pricing and geographic area. This is what people who are looking at your house are also viewing. Then see how long things are taking to sell, what features sold homes have/don't have compared to yours, and what the asking price and sold price ends up being.

It's all right online for your realtor to pull up.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 3:12PM
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I'm cracking up at the black tile and too small steps feedback! After the initial 2 showings there was no activity until Friday afternoon when I had 3 back to back showings. An open house yesterday (Sunday) brought in a family that spent 45 minutes here. As my house is only 1300 sq ft, 45 minutes seems way excessive so we're hoping an offer will be coming in from them. Another from the open house, her realtor has already contacted mine stating she thinks the client wants to come back this Saturday with her mother. I was already telling my agent to lower the price but she keeps talking me out of it, sounds like maybe I was a little hasty so we're going to hold off for a few more days before doing anything.

The only negative feedback I've received are things that were in the MLS and can't be helped so they kind of annoyed me. Laundry in the basement, smaller dining area, smaller 2nd & 3rd bedrooms. This info was all in the MLS and my bedrooms are actually a little larger than you see in most in this price range.

And now I have another stressor to add - I'm under contract for another house. I went looking just to see what my money would buy me, and fell head over heels in love with the 5th house I saw. We are trying to work out inspection issues right now but it looks like things are going to go through. If I don't sell my current home quick, over half of my take home pay will be going to mortgage!

Have I mentioned I'm a single girl doing all this alone? I keep waking up in the middle of the night (when I do fall asleep) with my heart beating out of my chest.

Do I fire sale this place and lose money for sure just to be sure I get an offer and get out quick so I can rest easy, or continue to be patient and pray?!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:22AM
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"The only negative feedback I've received are things that were in the MLS and can't be helped so they kind of annoyed me. Laundry in the basement, smaller dining area, smaller 2nd & 3rd bedrooms. This info was all in the MLS and my bedrooms are actually a little larger than you see in most in this price range. "

One thing to remember is about feedback is that when buyers give feedback to their agents, the buyers are concerned about telling the agent more about what the *buyer* wants in a house. The buyer is not concerned with feedback that will help the seller sell the house.

So if I tell my agent, "The dining room is too small," what I mean is that the dining room is too small for me and how I plan to use it. The dining room could be perfectly fine for hundreds of other buyers, just not for me.

And things like the laundry in the basement being in the MLS. I give my agents a very short list of "must haves" in a house--usually the number of bedrooms (3) and the location (must be on a quiet street) and that I do not like and will not buy a raised ranch. I cannot tell you how many houses on the same street as a fire station I have taken to, or how many raised ranches ("Oh, it doesn't live like a raised ranch!").

Some agents must hope that the buyer will be so overwhelmed with the rest of the house that they will not notice that one of their main "wants" is missing. Or maybe the buyers like everything else about the house--maybe it's in a good school district or has a great yard or they love the pictures of the kitchen-- and go to see it, thinking, "Maybe we can make this work somehow." And when they see the house, they realize they can't. Not your fault or the fault of the house. Just part of the business of house buying.

My advice is to ignore the feedback that comments on what simply cannot be changed about the house--that's buyer feedback for their own agent.

Do take notice of any comments you get about mess, or dirt, or poor upkeep--that sort of thing. Doesn't sound like you are getting those, which means your house is probably in good shape. Do take notice of things that are easily fixable--say, for instance, that you get comments about the interior seeming dark. You can add lamps to rooms and make sure the lights are turned on before showings. You can remove or replace window treatments to allow more sunlight into the rooms.

You just need to wait for the right buyer to come along.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:43AM
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I have had zero negative comments about anything I can change, lots of compliments about the cleanliness, light, and colors.

The only thing not spotless is the deck, and I have a note taped on the sliding glass door that leads to it which states it will be cleaned when weather allows. It just hasn't stayed warm and dry long enough yet for me to do anything about it. This winter seems like it will never end!

I had a realtor open house and was told every agent said it shows extremely well and is priced ok but If it shows as well as I keep hearing, then all i can think of to do is drop the price.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 1:56PM
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It's hard to advise. Can you carry two houses at the same time? Could you rent your house if necessary? Would you be ok if you lost money on the sale?
Things should pick up now that the weather improves.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Why would you get into another non contingent offer if you can not afford two mortgages? No wonder you are a stressed mess! You better do some quick math to see how long you can stay above water if your new home closes before your old one sells. If it is a short time, reduce your price now, or it is a possibility that you will foreclose on one or the other. Does your agent know that you NEED to sell NOW? If it is truly stressing you out badly, lower the price and get some relief. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 3:27PM
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Jennyzone you are doing things just like I did. Now we are talking stress! I took the fire sale route which was a good thing because my house is the only one in my neighborhood that has sold since August 2013. I may have sold too low but the house sold to buyers who did not ask for a thing after the home inspection. One thing I would like to add is I would not accept an offer from a buyer who was not pre-approved for a conventional loan. This may have narrowed my pool of buyers but favored the odds of a sale once an offer was made. Good luck and I hope it all works out for you like it did for me.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:09PM
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Before you think I'm just stupid and irresponsible - this new home is basically my dream home and with the tax rate difference, interest rate difference, this home that is almost 3x the size of where I am now, already has the upgrades I want, and is in the perfect location, is going to cost me a whopping $16 more a month mortgage than what I pay where I am now.

I can afford both mortgages, it will just be tight. I will have approx $400 a month to live on if my math is correct. That takes into account utilities, gas, and food. Renting out my current home is an option but not the way I want to go unless absolutely necessary. Tenants tend to trash things, and right now my home is in great condition.

As I said in my first post, I knew from the beginning I may be losing money. I'm listed at 148, and at 140 is where I break even. Below that, I'm taking a loss. I'm a 2 story priced same as bi levels a neighborhood over and I have upgrades they don't. In theory, I should be getting lots of showings - but I'm not. Of course I don't know if they are either! The people who have been in the home, I was on the short list for several of them, but that of course means nothing without an offer in hand.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 1:42AM
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In general, if buyers keep telling you that you are on the short list and yet you do not receive offers, (after a reasonable amount of time), then your price is close but not quite low enough. Not always, but in general.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 7:52AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Did you do anything to your home to make buyers fall in love? Did you stage it? I mean, remove all personal photos, remove clutter and unnecessary furniture. Make rooms "seem bigger," by less furniture and clutter. Did you freshen the paint with light colors? Curb appeal? Did you address that?

These things cost money well spent because they make your home sell faster.

Good luck! Finding a dream home makes it all worth it.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 7:42PM
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Absolutely staged. I spent weeks decluttering before listing it, even including inside cabinets and closets. Curb appeal is a toughie with the weather here. It's still dipping below freezing so I can't do flowers and none of my perennials have been able to come out yet, but I was able to power wash the siding/driveway/back deck yesterday. Of course now it's going to rain for the next few days, but once it stops I'll be staining the deck as well. Dropped my price today, I'm now lower than any other 2 story 3bd/2ba home on the MLS!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 12:51PM
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Ask your agent to run a query of what comparable houses have gone under contract in the past month. There might be some good info there that you can use to check your pricing.

And make sure your agent contacts all the agents that have shown it and tell them about the price drop so they can pass it on to the people that looked, in case it pushes them to make an offer.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 1:06PM
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"I'm now lower than any other 2 story 3bd/2ba home on the MLS!"

I would put this right in the Remarks section for all to see.
I have a good feeling that you will sell soon.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 8:26PM
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Well I got an offer, but they not only want my living room furniture and curtains (I had told my realtor when listing, the only non negotiables are my living room furniture, curtains. and mattress on my bed!), they want a July 1st close date.

The furniture and curtains are a flat out no, the close date is almost 90 days out. Would you accept that?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 8:28AM
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Do you know why they want 90 days? Is this a first time buyer that might have a lease until that date and is trying to avoid rent and mortgage payments at the same time?

I would need to know a lot more about their finances and reasoning prior to accepting 90 days.

As far as the furniture just say no. Why are the curtains so important to you? Are there blinds that will remain?

It sounds as if the buyer is stretched to make the purchase thus the request for furniture and curtains.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:02AM
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Or they are moving from outside the area and want move-in ready. Only one way to find out.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:11AM
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Jenny are they pre-approved for a conventional home loan?

I was in the same boat you are in and I would not accept that offer during the peak selling period of the year and would not give them my furniture. If their financing falls through you will have to relist in July. Your house is priced to sell and you need a serious buyer who can close the deal in a month.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:44AM
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The buyer is a 1st time buyer using USDA financing. I was told her lease ends June but if closing is July 1st, she'd have to be moved out by July 1st so I think requesting a June 1st close is reasonable? That's still almost 60 days out.

My couch/loveseat were custom ordered after spending 2 months trying to find a set I liked. I spent 4 months with nowhere to sit. (prior set sold almost immediately) They go with me, period.

Thank you for pointing out the privacy possibility. All except the sliding glass door do have blinds or roman shades but I created a home office for myself in the basement by hanging curtains from the ceiling and those may be the ones she really wants.

The only curtains I really care about are the ones on two of my windows in the living room. It took me a good 6 months to find those curtains. However my new place has many windows with no blinds or shades of any kind so while it was going to be temporary, I was planning on using many of the curtains from here until I had blinds put in.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:47AM
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60 days is not unreasonable... 90 days is pushing it... 30 days is unreasonably short, especially for a USDA loan. You can negotiate a 60 day close, but also negotiate that you receive a loan commitment letter after 40 days.
Congrats on the offer.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 1:07PM
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With our recent house sale, it was a nearly 4 month closing period because the buyers weren't moving to town until then (new employment contract for physician). We negotiated a larger earnest money and also for all contingencies to be satisfied/lifted within 30 days. That way they couldn't back out with reason (e.g., inspection) after we pulled if off the market, and also had skin in the game if they did walk later on.

I don't think asking for the furniture indicates desperation. It could just be that the buyer really likes your taste, and often when people move their furniture doesn't work in the new place so they're willing to part with it (witness the recent thread where someone wanted to throw in a piano). I doubt it will kill the deal if you say no.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 1:28PM
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Thanks everyone for the responses. When I met with my realtor today I found out she didn't just want the couch/loveseat, she wanted all the furniture in the room. That's bizarre to me but I'm taking it as a compliment.

I did USDA when I bought here, and my loan closed in 2 weeks. (I do realize that is very quick and not normal) My Realtor asked around and was told they still move very quickly, so I've asked for a May 23rd close date. That's the Friday of Memorial Weekend and in the ballpark of 45 day close which I'm told is the average.

My concern is that I'll take the place off the market and she'll back out/lose financing and leave me hanging. At the same time, I remember all too well what it's like to really want to buy a house and not have any money for down payment, so I would like to help her make this happen as long as I'm not putting myself at risk in the process.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 5:06PM
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You can not take out all the risk... especially now, after the financial crash. Used to be that the Inspection was the biggest contingency to overcome. It is now the financing.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 7:40PM
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The funny thing is that you stage the house, and people fall in love with THAT lifestyle. It happened to me.

I would be concerned about a l-o-n-g closing date. A lot of things can happen including a buyers remorse. IT happened to me, too. Never again would I go over 45 days max. I'd rather do an extension, if needed.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 4:52PM
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Realtor talked to her loan officer who said it would take every bit of 60 days for the USDA loan to clear. I went ahead and agreed to the July 1st closing date. Still going to stress myself to death until then though!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 5:29PM
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How long did you give the buyer to remove the contingencies (inspection, appraisal, etc.)? Once those are removed, except for financing which isn't released until closing, you should be able to breathe easier that the sale will go through.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 3:54PM
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Inspection is scheduled for 4/14 (gave them 10 days). I just signed the forms back to them this morning so I'm taking it as a good sign she's already scheduled inspection.

The contract doesn't stipulate time for appraisal, I'd assume whenever the bank orders it.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:54PM
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