Selling our house: Just bad luck, or something else?

kelhuckAugust 30, 2012

We've had our house for sale for 5 months now. The first two months were FSBO, and we finally caved and listed it on the MLS.

We've had so much positive feedback! When we were FSBO, it seemed like our front door was revolving- so many people came and 3 times we nearly had it sold....but something external always happened at the last minute to make the buyer back out.

I couldn't handle the up and down emotions any more, so we listed with a realtor. Again, great feedback, but like a broken record, twice now we've been picked as THE house, but something happens to the buyer and we're back at square one. (Only once we've actually started talking price; the rest stopped just short, so maybe I'm counting my chickens before they hatch?)

Does this happen routinely? It's our first time selling, and hopefully our last!!!

-Buyer's sister dies the night of their second visit, so buyer re-evaluates life and decides to move closer to home.

-Buyer's grandma unable to loan them the money after all. (these people continue to drive by the house every few days- perhaps hoping for a MAJOR price reduction??? If so, just send me a new offer and let's start negotiating!)

-Job transfer fell thru.

-Buyer really wanted to buy (as exhibited by multiple emails and conversations), but for reasons unknown to me, walked away after 3rd showing (perhaps the most bothersome, because we don't know what happened).

-Buyers really want to buy, but are unable to sell theirs (we aren't interested in contingencies.)

We live in a small town, and I share mutual friends with most of these people, so I'm hearing "how much they love the house" or they're "so excited to finally settle down" or they "can't wait for the girls to finally have a fenced yard and playset", so I'm not just assuming these people want the house- I'm hearing it (albeit second hand) from them.

Am I cursed? Or does this happen all the time? I know a sale isn't a sale until the deal is closed, but goodness gracious! To be so close, so many times, has taken such an emotional toll on us. I seriously hope I never have to sell another house again.

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SnidelyWhiplash

Answers to the following questions may be enlightening:

Is the market active, are other houses in your area selling but yours isn't?

What's the average listing period for houses that sold in the last 12 months?

How does your listing price compare to other houses in the area? Are you at the top, middle, or bottom of the price range?

Have you followed all of your realtor's recommendations regarding price, condition, what got fixed up, etc?

I may have more comments to share, but I'll say that the emotional roller coaster may be of your own making. You're wasting your time paying any attention to people's comments, feelings, what someone said to someone else, etc. NOTHING matters until a contract is signed and you close. Ignore it all. There aren't good signs, good vibrations, or good feelings. There are good (and bad) buyers, deals, contracts, and realtors.

If you're under some time pressure to sell the house, lower the price. If you're holding out for a top dollar price in a relatively inflexible way, then understand that takes time to happen, if ever.

Good luck, I'm sue things will change soon. Good times always follow bad times. Just, sometimes not soon enough.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 11:27PM
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ncrealestateguy

Few showings and no offers means you are way overpriced.
A lot of showings but no offers means you are slightly overpriced.
A lot of showings and at least one offer means you hit the sweet spot.

You just highlighted one of the downfalls of FSBO... you run into "Buyers" that have not been screened by someone who knows what to look for. You would not believe how many people I run into who swear they are buyers, but for one of many reasons, are not. Now that you are listed with an agent, those lookie loos should decline.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 7:50AM
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kelhuck

Hi @snidely- thanks for your reply! Yes, we've followed all our REA's advice. They are one of the top REA in the county, so we trust their judgement. We are getting to the end of the average DOM for our area, and haven't sold, which is REALLY getting me worried! :) I think you're right though- I just need to remove all emotion. If I do, at the end of the day, all I have is a house that hasn't actually sold, no matter how many times we've been close, and that's what I need to act on.

(We don't have to move- we're waiting to build our new house until after we sell....but I REALLY want to get started while the rates are so low!)

@nc- as an REA, do you not think we should factor in our "almosts"? It's obvious that people think it's a right price since we've had people willing to buy until life stepped in. At the same time, I fully realize that a 'bird in the hand in worth two in the bush', as the saying goes....and so far we've haven't actually caught any birds. I feel like we're at that point of either leave money on the table just to sell quickly, or hold out for a possible sale at a higher price.

Thanks for "listening" to my vent, snidely and nc. Sounds like we need to do some major thinking and decide what our priorities are.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 6:43PM
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brickeyee

"It's obvious that people think it's a right price "

People who could not complete the transaction.

Their evaluations are suspect right away.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 8:37AM
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ncrealestateguy

Kelhuck,
You say it is obvious that people think that the price is right, but since you never got to the point of an offer, you do not know what they were going to pay.
Have you asked your agent if she thinks a price reduction is in order?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 8:44PM
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kirkhall

Have you toured homes priced within 10% of yours? How does yours compare?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 9:29PM
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kelhuck

@brickeyee and nc- both good points! Thank you for challenging my thinking. I'm definitely starting to see this more from a business perspective. We've lowered the price once so far- she suggested it, but I thought it was overdue, honestly. But she's the professional, so we feel like we should let her decide when we need to change things up- that's why we hired her, after all. I would like to take charge (that's my nature), but I don't want to mess her strategy up.

@kirkhall- we're in one of those really weird areas where you can't really find a good comp. We're in a county that's kind of split in two- on one side is the postage-stamp neighborhoods, with shopping and amenities that all the relocating families flock to.......and on the other is a very rural, farming community with a fantastic school and low-to-no inventory (which is where I live). So basically what I'm saying is, we have no true comps to visit! :)

If you're looking at our market competition, there's only one other house for sale in a 2 mile radius around ours, and there's no comparing the two. So when you do a search for houses in our price range, you see mine mixed in with all the others from the other side of the county (we're all in the same "city", postal wise). So, yes, our house is over priced when you look at the MLS without knowing the specifics. But someone (REA) who knows the area will know that our house is in a very different area from the others, and not a fair comparison. It's a tough situation! When we interviewed the realtors, they all brought different "comps" and their recommended listing prices were spread out from $235 to $255. We went with the one in the middle and listed at $245. It's starting to look like maybe they were all over pricing our house......

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 10:49PM
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SnidelyWhiplash

You seem like a very clear thinker, kelhuck, I think you'll do fine.

Consider scenarios like the following: Would you rather sell it this year for $225 or next year for $230? Would you rather sell it for $215, or not sell it at all?

Remember that your realtor would prefer to sell your house for $150 as let the listing expire. The realtor is representing herself more than you. Take her advise, but temper it with your own thoughts.

Transfer the pressure you're feeling to her. Let her know that you'll relist with another agent at the end of the listing period. What special marketing or other efforts is she doing or planning to do? If your area has its plusses and minuses, does your marketing highlight the plusses so that the people otherwise drawn to the other part of town will come to consider what your house has to offer?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 11:17PM
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ncrealestateguy

Snidley wrote:
"Consider scenarios like the following: Would you rather sell it this year for $225 or next year for $230? Would you rather sell it for $215, or not sell it at all?"

Exactly. You have to decide if it is worth taking the chance of missing out on these lifetime low interest rates.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 10:58AM
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dreamgarden

"Transfer the pressure you're feeling to her. Let her know that you'll relist with another agent at the end of the listing period. What special marketing or other efforts is she doing or planning to do?"

I agree. The realtor isn't paying the monthly mortgage/expenses so it doesn't matter to her how long it takes to sell.

If this were me, I'd be keeping a journal of our correspondence and what she has (or hasn't done) to get this place sold.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 11:06AM
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brickeyee

"I don't want to mess her strategy up."

Ask for a detailed description of "her strategy."

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 11:09AM
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