Monday, December 30, 2013

Double Sold

So I just thought I'd offer you a little real estate update from our corner of the world.

As you may remember way back in March, we put our cute little house on the market.

We got an offer six days later, right after our first open house.  We accepted the offer.  The buyer was preapproved.  We took our preapproval letter and made an offer on a new house.

Our offer was accepted.  Everything looked like it was coming up roses.

And then our buyers kept pushing back the closing date.  Our realtor continually assured us that it was going to be fine.  We had worked out a rental agreement with the new house so we could have a couple of weeks to paint and get things settled before moving in.  Pushing back our closing date made us really nervous, although the sellers of the new house agreed to work with us.  I remember asking our realtor "Should we cancel the moving truck?" and she told me no, she'd been in contact with the buyer's agent and it was going to be fine.

And then it wasn't.  The buyers had issues in their credit history that popped up and they weren't approved for their loan.  The sale fell through right after we had moved everything into the new house.

We had gotten such a quick sale at a good price that we were pretty confident it would happen again.  So we scrambled, we talked to our mortgage lender, we talked to our Edward Jones advisor, and we decided to go ahead and buy the new house, fingers crossed that the old one would sell quickly.

It didn't.

By this time it was May and the market was on the upswing, but there were a lot of houses in our area and price range available.  Ours was the cutest, but it didn't have a basement and it was no longer furnished and staged.  I asked our realtor if we should pay to have it staged (HGTV tells me that buyers make emotional purchases even if they don't think they do, and I know our house looks bigger when it has furniture in it).  She said no and never mentioned it again.

Each time we would talk to her about our house (which wasn't often), the outlook was depressing.  She kept insisting that the problem was that it didn't have a basement.  She assured us that the price was right at the beginning (and we got the original offer for close to our asking price) but then kept saying we had to come down--to the point where we would barely break even on our mortgage!

She had extended her contract with us through Thanksgiving, but in October we had had enough of her negativity.  David broke up with her and we took the house off the market.

(Note:  Breaking up with a real estate agent is awkward when she lives in your new neighborhood and you run into her at Target.)

Meanwhile, I'd talked to a good friend of mine about the situation and she recommended another realtor who'd helped her buy her house.  They'd actually become friends in the process.  Also this realtor works with her identical twin, which I found adorable.

So I called her.  At this point, we hadn't even broken up with our old agent, but the new realtor called me back and spent thirty minutes on the phone with me, discussing our situation and offering her recommendations.  The biggest one?  Staging.  She even gave me the name of the person she uses, as well as the name of a rental management company, if we decided to go that route.

David and I talked it over after he broke up with the first realtor.  We decided that rather than mess with renting the house for three months (which felt like a risk since you never know who will be living there and how they'll treat your property) and paying a management company to handle it, instead we would just let the house sit and then stage it and put it back on the market in the spring with the new realtor I'd been talking to.

I called the new realtor back to let her know our plan, and in a surprising twist (!) she convinced us to go ahead and let her list the house now--this was November.  Our old realtor had told us we wouldn't have any luck after October, but the new realtor said that if it was just going to sit, we might as well put it out there and see what happens.  She'd give it a new listing number and a new price to get it back at the top of the search engines, and we'd see what happened.  She pointed out that while the market is slower in the winter, there are still some people who need to buy a house at that time for whatever reason and there are much fewer houses on the market.

So we payed to have it staged, and paid to have part of the dining room floor repaired--it had gotten warped without the climate control running all the time since the house was sitting empty.

Our new realtor took photos of the staged house and listed it.  David and I were not getting our hopes up.  We would be happy if it sold by March.

Two weeks later, we had an offer.

BUT it was a disappointing, low-ball offer.  (Our agent actually called it "insulting," which made me love her more.)

She said that there was one other couple who wanted to look at the house, so she was going to wait and see what they thought of it before responding with our counter offer.

And then we got a SECOND offer.  It still wasn't quite the price we wanted, but we were over the moon and ready to negotiate.

So our agent went to the first offer and said we'd gotten a second offer, closer to our asking price, so we were going to be negotiating with them.

The first offer obviously wanted the house, because she raised her bid $15,000 and said she'd move up the closing date to early January (before our mortgage payment is due).


We signed a contract with her, but it is contingent upon the sale of her current property.  Her agent is acting as a dual agent in that sale (meaning he's representing her as the seller and the buyers who are purchasing her current property).  The only reason this matters to us is because he has all the information on the sale and is confident it is going to go through.  Plus, as our agent pointed out, he's quite motivated because he stands to make a lot of money on that sale, representing both sides.

However, our agent talked to the other couple who made us an offer and they ended up signing a back-up contract with us.  So if our first contract falls through, we'll close with the second couple on February 1.  BOOM.  DOUBLE SOLD.

I cannot even tell you what a relief it is.  David and I are both just giddy at the thought of only having one mortgage payment in 2014.

Since I'm still somewhat superstitious about this kind of stuff (you all know how I feel about counting chickens and whatnot), it makes me a little nervous to post anything about it before it's signed and sealed, but I just had to share a bit of good news at the close of this year.

Wishing all of you the good kind of closure at the end of 2013 and the start of 2014.


  1. I broke up with a realtor once- our first when we were buying a house. He hemmed (sp?) and hawed on wanting us to put in an offer because it was 6pm on a Friday and he had plans with his wife for dinner.. Scott actually said to him (and why I love my husband even more), "do you want to go to dinner or do you want to sell a f*cking house?". That house had termites so we had to walk away after all that work, and he kept saying he felt awkward about it and he wished we would just let the seller remedy the issue but we were gun-shy and wanted out. He was such a wimp about it I just couldn't stomach having to deal with this guy about such a large financial decision and so I had to break up with him (and write a letter to the sales brokerage to make it legal). ugh.

    Glad you found a new realtor you love and who was that much more optimistic. I think it's GREAT that it sold (again) so quickly. And not for anything, but what was your old realtor planning to do, other than complain about your basement? Like did she think one would grow? The marketing is her issue, you would think she could be into it.

    all this to say, congrats!

  2. I love your new realtor too! How exciting.

    I think staging houses would be a sweet job. Wonder if I could get hired to do that with no real credentials?

  3. Man that sound so awful! So glad there is an end in sight!! ~M

  4. I missed this post with the plague our family came down with at this time. Selling your house is scary, frustrating and emotionally intense. I think I would have broke open if that happened with the Hole on Pol. I am a nervous house seller. I can only imagine how difficult on all of you this must have been. Such a stress!