Last week we closed on the sale of our house. We lived there for almost 11 years. Here’s what’s interesting about the sale of our house: we put the house in the market on a Thursday, had an open house on Sunday, and had a full-price offer within a week, and closed in 6 weeks. Oh, and we did it without a Realtor. I know my experience is not typical in this market, but here’s how I did.
It’s Got to Look Good
First of all, my house was in good shape. No, it was in an amazing shape for a 25 year-old-house (that’s the kind of endorsement you want from your wife after 25 years of marriage). In the past decade, we remodeled most everything about the house. New roof, new landscaping, Bathrooms with travertine counter tops, glass bowls, multiple showerheads. Our kitchen was my favorite room. Since I love to cook, we put in a 48 inch Wolf range with six gas burners, a grill and two ovens. The Subzero fridge was paneled to match the custom cabinets that included a warming drawer as well as Fisher and Paykel double drawer dishwasher. Ok, enough, I’m making myself regretful here.
No Excuse for Bad Photos
I took pictures of the house with a good camera and wide-angle lens. Rooms look twice as big as in real life with a wide-angle lens. Just make sure you don’t use the lens on your mother in law. The fall out is tremendous. I’m just sayin’. Make sure you have great pictures. You might have a ton of traffic on your ad but if you’re pictures are lame, people won’t give you a second look. (on another though, what does that say about your profile pictures? Ok, that’s for another blog post)
Go Online and Go for It
We listed our house on several online services like Zillow.com, craigslist.com, forsalebyowner.com. I spent about $300 on ads on some of these sites and uploaded my best pictures along with key words that are always associated with the area I live and the benefits of my house: best schools system in Tennessee, great house for entertaining, amazing upgrades, gourmet kitchen (interestingly, a lot of people love to upgrade their kitchens so they can have a nicer place to heat up their frozen fish sticks). We also created a microsite for the house that showcased it better than other online services.
There’s No Love Without the MLS
You can put your house everywhere on the web, but without a MLS (multiple Listing Service) listing, it’ virtually impossible to generate traffic. I believe that the MLS is key to real traffic. But in order to be on the directory, you need to work with a licensed Realtor. I did some research and found myigloo.com. They will list your house on the MLS for about $375. However, you have to fill out a ton of paper work that includes the size of each room, your property lines, taxes, and your weight history for the time you owned the house–well, just about.
Buyers Realtor Gets In the Deal
Even though we did not have a Realtor representing us, we knew that if we didn’t give a commission to the buyers’ Realtor, our house would, somehow, not make into the buyers’ list of properties to tour. That proved to be wise.
Priced to Sell
Now this next step was the most critical: pricing. How to reach the right price is both an art as well as a science. We looked at the prices of houses being sold in our neighborhood—well, those who were sold in the past year—and their price per sf. We looked at houses in our area that have been on the market unsold for a while, some of them for over a year. We also looked at the upgrades we made compared to those houses that were not moving and felt good about the curb appeal our house had. We settled on a price that was very competitive and realized that even though our per-square-foot asking price was on the high end, so was all the extras our home had to offer. Again we knew that we had an extra 3% we didn’t have to pay at closing to a realtor. That’s a significant amount of money.
We put our house on the MLS on a Thursday, had an open house on Sunday and had an offer on Monday. Some may say we didn’t ask enough and that we left money on the table. Well, while that might be true, we knew the pain and suffering some of our friends were going through selling their home, not to mention the expense of keeping up with two mortgages and expenses. We knew that the longer the house stayed on the market, the more difficult it became to sell. We had already closed on a new house at the end of January. Needless to say, we were very motivated to sell.
At the end, I’m thankful to God that we had a very short sale and everything went very smoothly. Last thursday we closed on the sale.
What has been your experience in selling real estate in this market?