When I moved out of the family home and listed it for sale, I had absolutely no idea that it would take almost an entire year to sell. Well, it took 10 and a half months. The sales price was $26,000 lower than the initial list price, we gave the buyers $5,000 in closing cost credit on top of that and paid more than $23,000 in fees and commissions. Absolutely everyone from the buyers’ agent to the title company took a big bite out of our apple. Here’s the ugly truth.
Our first offer came in less than two weeks after the house hit the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and was for $5,000 above asking price. I hadn’t even had a chance to have the carpets cleaned at that point (the winter holiday gift-giving extravaganza was well underway and I ran out of time). Unfortunately, that deal fell through and also gave us the insane idea that we* didn’t need to do anything else to make the house attractive to buyers.
Wrong. Very, very wrong.
For three months, we endured the nastiest feedback I’d ever heard about the house. We received at least a half dozen very low-ball offers, all citing the terrible condition of the house. I finally had the entire interior repainted, all the carpet and tile cleaned, and replaced all the faucets (upgrading from the crappy builder grade stuff). I also had the fridge removed and painted the pantry shelves.
Then we received no feedback at all, but still got really low offers. Apparently real estate is something that lives by the creed, “If you can’t say something negative, don’t say anything at all.”
We lowered the price three times. We accepted three or four offers out of the dozens we received and opened escrow three times (I think, it’s become a blur of disappointment and aggravation).
One thing that really stood out was that no one offered our list price in their first communication. Most of the offers were a solid $20,000 or more under our reduced asking price and then would negotiate up to list price or would fizzle out. Since we’d been in escrow multiple times, the house had been appraised multiple times and we knew the value. The house was priced accordingly. Buyers’ agents knew this and still wrote appallingly low offers. It was a huge waste of time.
It felt like everyone was out to get a steal of a deal. It made me as a seller feel like I was being robbed. And who volunteers to be robbed?
Another thing that was astonishing were the neighborhood comparables. Buyers’ agents routinely ignored valid comps and used the ones that would support their buyers’ desired price — meaning the comps were for homes that were appreciably smaller. Like we wouldn’t notice?
At the very end of the process, we had multiple offers. One of those offers was a VA buyer, who predictably offered $35,000 under list price and demanded $8,000 in closing cost assistance from us. This was the same routine we saw from every single VA buyer.
You know who we didn’t sell the house to? A VA buyer. Between the price concessions, the closing cost concessions, and the realtor commissions, those buyers were asking us to pay or lose upwards of $65,000. As a buyer, at some point you’ve got to ask yourself, “Would I pay $65,000 of someone else’s real estate costs?”
No, you wouldn’t.
That final VA offer included neighborhood comps, too. The agent cited a home right around the corner which was built by the same developer and had similar square footage. It was priced $50,000 less than our house.
Want to know why?
Half the rooms were painted black and there was dog feces all over the floors and carpets.
Hmmm, is that a valid comp to a freshly cleaned and painted home that’s move-in ready?
The family who bought our house and finally closed escrow had their own share of market-related insanity to deal with in selling their old home. That difficulty dragged escrow out, but was ultimately worth it. They have three young children and this is exactly the house for them to grow up in. I hope they have many happy and healthy years there.
It’s safe to say that I’m relieved the house has sold. I may be even more relieved to be out of the real estate game. It’s rigged.
*When I say “we” I’m referring to myself and my realtor-friend. Voldemort was pretty much invisible throughout this entire process. In fact, my realtor-friend has never met him in person or even spoken to him on the phone. They interacted via email exclusively.