what would you do?

ICFgreenJune 11, 2011

We have our house for sale because we are about to break ground on a new house. Our current house was listed 2 months after we took about 6 months to clean, declutter, depersonalize and do a little fixing.

We had a hard time finding comps because the houses around us are either much older and smaller (50's ranches), or much bigger (3000 sq ft). So our realtor focused on other homes with larger lots (we have 1.36 acre), there are only a handful in our city, with is popular for the great schools. We took off about $20k because we are right off a main road, and figured we were being aggressive from the start.


So far, we've had 17 showings and 3 open houses. But no offers. Without fail, every buyer and realtor has said they loved our house. While a few have said that they wish the backyard was flatter (it's wooded with a pond), and some didn't care for the look of our neighbors' house, every single person has said they wouldn't buy our house because of the road. We had three people say it's their perfect house, but would never buy it because of the road. No drop in price would change their mind (they were asked).

The road is busy, and can be loud, but it's only two lane (maybe 5 cars in minutes during peak times)and we have a decently long driveway and a turnaround.

Showings slowed down between mother's day and memorial day, and we discussed lowering the price, but then we've had 5 showings in the last week.

We really don't NEED to sell it for another six months, but I'm wondering what you all would do if you were in our shoes.

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If one of the advantages of your house is the school system, I would NOT wait until schools are back in session to lower the price. Many parents would want their kids to start their new school in Sept. (I'm assuming you live in an area where schools are out for the summer?) Price it the best it is gonna be NOW!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 12:27AM
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Oh, I feel for you because it would have to be something really spectacular for me to buy a house on a busy road. I Mapquest the houses I'm going to look at and try to figure out what the road is like before I go but I can't always tell. So maybe you're getting all those showings because they just don't know and then they get there... I would try to find comps for houses that are like yours, on a busy road. Or have some other comparable serious flaw. This is a serious flaw because it's something that can't be fixed. Flaws like having only one bathroom is something that can be fixed so it's not so serious. Real estate is going slow. I've "sold" my house (had contracts and was heading toward closing) three times since the fall and each deal fell through for surprising reasons not really having anything to do with my house. Therefore I would say don't mess around. Price it as low as you can as soon as you can just in case you run into snags like I've been.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 1:27AM
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Look at it this way: the people who are looking at your house now can - presumably - afford to pay the current sales price.

You want to attract buyers who can not afford your house at its current price but for whom it would be a major step up, so they overlook the road issue. Lower the price to bring in that level of buyer.

By the way, your link does not work. Is this your house? If so, it is lovely!

Here is a link that might be useful: Is this your house?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 8:53AM
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Graywings is exactly right. The lookers in your price range right now wouldnt buy it at even a reduced price because "they dont have to". They can find what they are looking for in their price range. What you need to do is make the house available to people in a lower price range so the house is so much more than those buyers are able to get and they will over look the road.

Also, the house looks very nice, a bit overstaged for me, but thats me. If I could make a suggestion, you need to make the outside pop a little, maybe some hanging baskets from the porch. There is no color there at all. Also, the kitchen looks very stark. I know you staged, but it almost looks vacant in the kitchen. Can you add a little color, or a window treatment or something to give it some life?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 10:02AM
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Yes, if everyone likes the house itself, and you are getting good traffic through it from the listing, the problem IS the location near the road. (At least that's the reason put forward by lookers who aren't making offers.)

You need to compensate for the irremedial defect: the road. You need comps with defects.

I'd like to see more house photos on the listing page. (The bed in front of the windows makes it appear that the room is too small for a full size bed.) Where's a photo of the beautiful walk-out basement described in the listing? You are getting showings from what you have, but...a buyer often goes home and thinks about the house and looks at the photos again. The listing isn't only to get them IN.

Is it unlikely the road would be widened anytime soon?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 1:55PM
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The road issue isn't going to get better. I would reduce the price enough to bring in buyers from a lower price price category. Better to do it now than six months from now.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 3:12PM
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I agree about a lower price. I think all those pictures of your house with bare trees need to be updated with new pictures with green trees.

Also, some of the pictures (I also looked on Zillow) are blurry. Otherwise, the house looks very nice.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 3:44PM
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I agree with those who say that you need to attract buyers who could not normally afford your neighborhood. Those are the buyers who will be so thrilled to live in the neighborhood that they can overlook the busy road.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 4:08PM
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there are some folks that don't mind the busy road. not many, though.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 5:28PM
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Main roads around here mean that you are plowed promptly and often, also on a bus line. Big plus for us in ice and snow country. (We bought on a main street because of that.)

One tip - when you have showings / open houses, have the windows closed near the front of the house. The traffic *noise* often is what bothers people more than the traffic itself.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 6:43PM
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We just bought on a main road because of the proximity to town, train, schools. We wanted to be walkable. The home has a turnaround, so we will not be backing out onto the road. The road side also has new windows, so not very noisy once you are in. Realtor pointed out that we will never be stuck waiting to be plowed out of the neighborhood.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 11:16PM
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There are buyers who like acerage who would never live on a busy road. And then there are buyers who would live on a busy road, for the positives stated above. But, there are not many buyers that want acerage and do not mind being located on a busy street.
Graywings hit the nail on the head...

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 5:48AM
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Thanks, everyone!

DH and I are mulling over our decision. I'm not sure why the link didn't work, there are actually 25 photos of our house on most sites (not Realtor.com, of course, they only have the first four). We just had some new photos of the outside (with tulips, etc. blooming)which our realtor used for the new flyer. I didn't realize they hadn't shown up online yet. I sent her an email on that.

The rooms are quite large. The master (the green room) has a king with several feet all around it. The nursery also fits a king (it currently has a crib, toddler bed, armoire and dresser and still looks almost empty. The third bedroom currently has a full, which fits quite comfortably. Some sites distort photos, but we can't help that.

We've had rave reviews from the realtors who have shown the place, even a couple offers to stage other homes!

Badger girl, I grew up in MN and lived in WI for many years. We do forgot how nice it is to be the FIRST road in our city to be plowed. That's a nice silver lining we have not taken advantage of yet. We do keep the windows closed during showings, and the master is extra bright with additional lights, so we keep the curtains closed in the bedroom, and 1/2 open in the bath.

Overall, I agree that our market is the set that is getting a much nicer house that they can afford off a busy street. when we set a price, most comps were in the $220K range, so we though we would get ahead of that by listing at $200, to get both the $175 - 200K and 200K-225K browsers. If we dropped to the next big increment, $175, we would be in danger of the "what happened at that house?" and "is it in foreclosure? zone.

Our best comps (within .5 miles) are a 1950 home in severe need of remodeling and updating. It's about 1/4 mile off the street perpendicular to us, which is a nightmare in the winter. They are listed for $190k.

In the other direction, one the same street as the one just mentioned, is a home that is the same size our house, one year newer, with fewer upgrades, same size lot, another long driveway (but not quite as long). Listed for $295K. They are insane.

Another house very nearly by just listed. Also mid-century, more land, on a (very slightly) less busy street. Needs all the updating, but the yard (front and back) is much nicer. They don't have a turnaround, just a single driveway that we learned first hand is scary for backing up into traffic. They are listed at $189K.

Of comps that have sold, it's difficult. In my city, there have been 3 sales in the last 6 months in the $175K - $225k price range, and they've all sold in the $200 range. All the realtors who have shown it have said it's priced right, that we did the right thing by not starting at $225. We aren't in a neighborhood, just a string of houses. Most are about 20-50 years old. A handful are 5-15 like ours.

Also, the average time to sell is 3-4 months, so it's still early.

We're leaning toward a top of 5K ($195K)...

We're leaning toward dropping to

Here is a link that might be useful: House for Sale

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 2:54PM
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I know you put alot of work in getting your house ready for sale however IMHO I think the place comes off feeling rather depressing. I think it's the paint. It's comes off on my computer screen as rather dreary and depressing. I'm wondering how many other people are getting the same vibe when they look at it.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 3:46PM
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lol...I'm laughing only because the chocolate milkshake color we used throughout the house was what our stager and realtor suggested. Guess you can't please everyone. We haven't heard anything about the color and decor less than positive, but then sometimes silent is more telling than words.

On the other hand, all the walls were "primer pink" when we bought the house!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 4:40PM
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FWIW, houses that are listed and unsold are not comps. Comps are based on what is sold. Obviously you look at what others are listed at, but it isn't a comp.

If we dropped to the next big increment, $175, we would be in danger of the "what happened at that house?" and "is it in foreclosure? zone.

All the realtors who have shown it have said it's priced right, that we did the right thing by not starting at $225.

A couple of comments on that. About a year and a half ago we were getting ready to list our house in a market that isn't terrible but was slow. The realtor recommended listing at $599.9 which we did (having said we wanted to sell fast and not for top dollar). We recognized fairly soon it was too high and reduced to about $565 and then to about $537. The listing expired and we took it off. (FWIW I think had we initially listed at $537k we would have sold but by the time we dropped the prime selling time was over).

When kept the house over Christmas and then went to relist at the beginning of spring. We talked to two leading realtors in the area. Both of them told me they thought the $537k price was fine. (Actually one said that $549 would be better...he felt there is no mileage to be gained by listed below the top of a search bracket unless you go down to the next bracket).

Anyway, I asked them what I think was a key question: If I told you I really wanted to close on a sale within 3 months what should I list at? Both of them told me $499.9 which was the top of the next search bracket.

I hated doing it and I was afraid that people would think there was something wrong with my house or would still expect a big discount. But we listed at that price and had an offer within 2 days that was close to listing price and closed within a month. Lots of the other houses that were listed at higher prices are still listed and haven't sold.

BTW, are you sure that in your MLS that the next search bracket starts at $175k? Sometimes the brackets are smaller than $25k.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 5:50PM
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Good info. There are three comps (sold) in the last 3 months. They all sold around $200K.

Great question for the realtor. I wish i would have seen that before I just talked to her. I think I'll ask that question before we drop the price.

The search brackets for the local agencies are either $25K increments or custom increments.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 8:31PM
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I think it looks great, the new pictures with the green trees and grass really help make it look inviting.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 9:17PM
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Haven't been on this board for a few years and thought I would see what's going on.

We were selling our house two years ago and while we didn't live on a main road, we had a highway in our back yard. You couldn't see it, as were were on an acre with lots of trees, but there was noise (not terrible expressway noise, but most people called it white noise.)

We had an unusual home (a large California ranch in Connecticut) where most people buy big executive colonial. With many so empty nesters and baby boomers, the trend has been for one level living. Every agent that came in loved our home and all were within 10K of each other for listing price.

We listed in the range and had an older couple the second day where the wife loved it! they spend over an hour in the house. A second appointment was made and a half hour before,they cancelled and the agent said they would reschedule! I had this gut feeling that they were gone for good and I ended up being right. The husband and son walked our neighborhood that morning and while it is not noisy at all in the front of our home they hit the noise walking between two homes! :(

After a little over a week what started out as a great response from the public, showing slowed. Being a realtor years ago and after selling for of our own homes since then I knew we had to drop the price, especially in the terrible market we have had.

While we did have people that loved the home, most could not live with the back yard and we ended up making three major price drops. Our agent was very upset because she knew in a hot market we would have not had this problem (we bought in a hot market, competed with another offer and paid listing price!). It also helped us when we went to check out the competition at open houses one Sunday and met an honest agent who said, "Oh, you have that beautiful ranch that everyone loves, but no one I know is interested because of the hi-way. There are too many homes in your price that don't have that issue."
We knew when we bought the house we were taking a gamble, but did it anyway. As agents have always said, Location, Location, Location. In this market (which has gotten worse since we sold) the house would sell for about $75,000 less than two years ago. Instead looking back,we didn't do bad, sold in 3 months and also got a great price on our new home. The people that did buy it saw it at the second drop but for the highway wouldn't bite. One funny note, in the spring, when I'm on my new deck or have the windows open at night, it is so noisy outside because of the little peeper frogs!

Good luck to you and don't lose heart. Just price it right, to sell.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 10:56PM
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"If we dropped to the next big increment, $175, we would be in danger of the "what happened at that house?" and "is it in foreclosure? zone."

If you want to sell under the avg. time for your market, this is the feeling that you want the home to present. Buyers are no longer anxious about purchasing foreclosures. In fact, most of todays buyers are asking for foreclosures because they think those represent the best deals.
It all depends on your timing... if you can risk not selling for 12 months or perhaps not at all, then keep it priced where it is. If you need to sell fairly quickly, lower the price.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 7:08AM
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My first thought, like many of the other posters, was to drop the price more. But, then when I saw your current price point - I wasn't so sure a price drop of even $10K would make much difference. (Although maybe listing at $195K would help.) It is a lovely house. I think you might just need more time to find the right buyer.

We are in the process of buying a house that backs to a toll road. It took over a year to sell this house. Now part of that was the sellers fault for not lowering the price sooner. But still, they had it at what I think was a good, lower price for over 6 months. It is a big, beautiful home and if it wasn't discounted because of the road, we wouldn't be able to afford it. We made our offer 4 months after we first saw it - after not finding anything else we liked even half as much. So your buyers may just need a little more time to figure out that your home is a good deal for them.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 7:47AM
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