What a Long, Strange Sale It's Been

shenandoahSeptember 25, 2010

I posted on here well over a year ago, when we first put our house on the market but weren't getting showings.

We had to sell -- husband's employer closed down -- so we chose a realtor who had experience in the area and priced it at what we were told by professionals was 'aggressive' and which, when I told my inquisitive neighbors, made them gasp in horror. Low, right? But the neighborhood in which we'd lived for over a decade had been devalued by sub-prime starter communities collapsing in a nearby zipcode, and then the community as a whole had its heart torn out economically by the collapse of the banks, and like an old sweater the housing market unraveled. (Like we thought back then it couldn't get any worse. Boy, were we green...) I got plenty of useful posts here, and followed some of the advice, like keeping certain amenities with the house that we could have produced urgently needed cash from by selling off to neighbors.

Anyway, at the end of the summer along came some buyers who seemed to love the house. Unfortunately, they just didn't have enough liquid assets for a down, and wanted to do a LWOP. I am now an expert in how many ways a lease-with-option can go wrong. Fast forward several months -- the buyers who so loved the house and were 'expert gardeners' and would take care of everything beautifully until they closed -- bailed on the deal. The house we had borrowed from our relatives to prep for selling -- freshly painted, pruned, power-washed and ding-free, and which we had turned over to the 'buyers' once the stager moved her lovely furniture out, now had garbage in the garage, weird futuristic fixture change-outs we hadn't authorized, and piles of dog poop in the backyard that took me days to dig out from under. The garden was jungle, the lawn half-dead. No more $$ for re-staging or re-painting, so the power-washers, carpet-cleaners, shrub-choppers and haulers became my 63 yr. old husband and I, our dear REA, and her charitable husband. Miraculously, given what this past July was like, there was only one case of heatstroke between us (mine). Here's something you probably don't often see -- we had to argue with our agent to put the house back on the market at the price we did because she thought it was too LOW. (She was feeling protective, I think.) But now that we were living hours away in our 'New Economy' cottage, working endless p/t jobs and with no 'cushion' of any kind, it was the only strategy that made sense.

There's a Happy Ending to this tale (sort of)-- we sold the house and DIDN'T have to bring money to the table. Had just enough left when we paid off the bank, the agency, the brother-in-law and the utilities to take ourselves out for one steak dinner each and raise our glasses -- HAIL!-- To the Real Estate gods who allowed us to close on that &%$#@*&% property 3 days before the bank initiated foreclosure proceedings.

NCRealEstateGuy, if you are still out there in the forum, just want you to know that you were dead-on about the market price... we sold for just a couple thou under the top end of the range you gave me back in 2009. The buyers are welcome to it -- they got a good house, and made a fantastic deal. For us, we're happy to be off the credit grid completely now, with nary another deal on our horizon.

Message to sellers and would-be sellers: if you want my advice, no one should be out there in that market trying to sell right now unless you're on an ice floe with no life jacket and the Titanic has already gone down. Otherwise, you'd do well to step safely back on shore and thank your maker it's not you out there trying to paddle with your hands!

Best of luck to all.

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I raise my coffee in salute to your grand efforts and fortitude. And, as you now know, 99% of lease options and lease purchases are nothing more than a rental that more than likely will never go to close.
I sometimes do not like to give out pricing advice, because real estate is soooooo local. But, the advice that I can give to just about anyone trying to sell is this:

If you are getting no showings and no offers, you are way overpriced.
If you are getting a few showings and no offers, you are still overpriced.
If you are getting a lot of showings, and no offers you are close, but still a bit over priced.
If you are getting a lot of showings and at least one offer, you are priced right.

And again, I love your username. Did you know that the Indian translation is "Princess Of The Stars"?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 8:25AM
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So happy you have gotten out from under the house and can now go forward with your lives.
Kathy G in MI

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 10:09AM
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Glad to hear that your ordeal is over and you could walk away without owing anything.
Will you call yourself "Princess of the Stars" now? Nice name.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 11:46PM
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Instead of a steak dinner, you could have gotten many months of free accommodation, maybe even D.C. subsidies to stretch out a freebie even further.

(Of course, this observation is from someone who on a sale in the '90s real estate bust paid a further $35k out of pocket to the mortgagee to avoid marring his credit.)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 8:41PM
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So sorry to hear of your struggle through these hard economic times! Glad you were able to sell plus not lose money!!!
Dh and I sold during the summer of '08; right around the time everything was "going in the tank"!! We lowered our price 2 times, I think, and had we not been in our house for 15 years we probably wouldn't have had that "wiggle" room. I don't know how people are selling today....hopefully there will be a "turn-a-round" one of these days!!
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 1:08AM
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Glad to hear it worked out!

On to ncrealestateguy's quote...

"If you are getting a lot of showings and at least one offer, you are priced right"

This is where we are right now - feels good that we got a good offer - just trying to get through escrow now, everything is almost finalized - but almost doesn't cut it. Holding breath until closing!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 5:37PM
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Good luck, its almost over. I never want to go through selling another house. I'm thinking lately, renting is the way to go...

Please post back so we can all celebrate with you!


    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 9:59PM
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Sorry about not posting back. My computer wasn't cooperating -- too many cookies? -- thank you, Bill Gates.

Anyhow. Wow. Didn't know about the 'princess' part. Just have a thing about rivers, and always loved the song.

Interesting follow-up note: there are a lot of unsold properties in our n'hood, no surprise, with more coming on the market all the time. Our house was the first 2-story to be listed under 300K in many years (and the sale price was considerably under...) Our REA tells us that the moment the 'Under Contract' sign went up on our lawn, several listed homes close by dropped into the 290s. Such is the power of comparables. When our neighbors get past hating us (believe me, I understand it... however, most of them still have incomes)I hope this will bring them more traffic. It still is a beautiful community. And I sure did love living by that river...

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 9:09AM
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Your nieghbors have no reason to hate you... you sold your home at market value, and not a dime less. In time, they too will realize this.
I know that you probably feel like you had a bout of bad luck, but I can tell you that your "ending" was storybook. I meet people almost everyday, where the ending was met with a much, much worse scenario.
On a side note, I am traveling to West Virginia this weekend to get one more fishing trip in on the Shenandoah before the weather shuts down the fish. Many bald Eagles have returned over the last few years too. If you ever need a get away and would like to spend some time playing on the Shenandoah, let me know... I have a little cabin up there just sitting around.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 8:42AM
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How tempting! That's one piece of real estate I would NEVER part with. Please hold that generous thought... we may get out from behind the 8-ball yet.

You're right, NCRG, about the 'storybook' part. We haven't dared follow up with our REA in the last 2 weeks because we're afraid when we call she'll say, 'Oh, didn't you hear? They want you to take the house back'...

And now that the dangling sword has been lifted away from our heads and we can breathe, we're having to admit that we were planning to downsize for 4 years, that we were looking for a 'simpler' way of life... and boy, we have found it in our little burg. Living without a mortgage is a beautiful thing. So yeah, I think we did catch some luck with the house, and I don't plan to take it for granted. It helped that we got some good advice...

Happy eagle-watching!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 8:10PM
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