We are pretty excited, Kirk’s house sold this month. We put it on the market mid-November, thinking, “well, let’s give it a try.” We honestly expected it would not sell for at least 6-9 months, and that we’d probably end up giving up and renting it. But, we hoped not- we didn’t want it trashed by renters, and we didn’t want to be landlords. And, we knew we’d prefer to take the cash invested in it, and use it for other things, like building a barn. And, we felt that the cash invested in it would not be earning much equity in the next few years!
I am an avid reader and fan of the Seattle Bubble blog, and the data there was never encouraging! When we listed the house, the Months-of-Supply stats for Snohomish county were heading towards twelve months! That essentially means that the average house will have to sit on the market for a year before it sells. Yikes! That’s a lot of mortgage payments and taxes for an empty house!
But, we had a few things on our side that made us slightly more optimistic. For one, nobody was living in the house, so we could get it, and keep it, perfectly clean. We were able to clear out the closets and cupboards, and take away everything but some key furniture, so it was staged very nicely. And, the house is just beautiful inside. The fir floors are exquisite, and the original woodwork, trim and stained glass windows are fabulous. It is definitely an elegant and unique home, and there aren’t dozens and dozens of comparables, like with new construction.
And, we didn’t use a real estate agent. The biggest advantage here is that we didn’t need to buffer in that extra 3% in the price to pay that agent’s wages. Instead, we essentially passed that savings onto the buyer (since we’d never see the money either way) to encourage the house to sell faster, as compared to our higher-priced competitors who have to pay their agent.
And, honestly, I think that when there are two real estate agents in the mix, sometimes negotiations can actually be tougher than if you just meet, as two sets of ordinary people, face-to-face, and come to an agreement at the kitchen table. Certainly the agents aren’t there to get the best price for either party (since it doesn’t translate into much difference in their commission either way). They are just there to push everybody to finish the deal as quickly as possible so they can get their check and move on to other sales.
I also believe that me being able to spend a LOT of time on the photos, flyer and web advertising made a big difference. I doubt many agents invest as much in those key pieces of marketing than I did. And, since I’m a software engineer, my skills in using photo and flyer editing software, and creating web pages, is probably higher than the average real estate professional.
So, in the end, it worked out well. The people who bought the house were indeed able to meet us face-to-face. I think that really helps put everybody at ease, that they’re not doing a deal with the devil behind a curtain or something. They had an agent, and I think she was really working more for us than them. She revealed to us right away that they’d been searching for months, and that they were all tuckered out from the ordeal. It was clear she was anxious to be finished with this sale herself.
They met us on a Friday night, after a full work week, they appeared to have missed dinner, and they looked exhausted and a little desperate. They waited outside in the cold car in the dark, with their kids, while we talked with their agent. I have no idea why they didn’t say “hey, let’s get some sleep and negotiate Saturday morning when we’re all fresh!” since it’s not like there is huge competition out there between buyers. So, that made it pretty easy for us, it was clear they wanted the house. We agreed quickly on a price, and that there would be no repair requests after the inspection. And that was that!
The offer came four months after listing the house, for a very satisfactory and fair price, and it closed in a month’s timeframe. Nice! I held my breath until we had that check in hand! I’m excited for the house, the people who bought it love it and care about its history, so I think they’ll be good stewards to the old beauty. And we are so glad to never have to mow a town lawn again!