What a Long, Strange Sale It's Been
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.