Buying a home or selling a home in this market can be a challenge. My husband and I went through the process recently. Although we heard many real estate stories that ended badly, our experience was positive. You need to weigh the facts and figures to determine if selling and/or buying is the right choice for you. I will be happy to share our experience with you so sit back, kick off your shoes and get comfy.
Mid-February of 2008 my husband and I decided we wanted a bigger home and more property, even though we heard so many negative real estate stories. Our house was 13 years old and a little on the small side at 1500 square feet. It had a country kitchen that we updated with stainless steel appliances. Every room on the main level was given fresh paint and new carpet. It was a three bedroom, 2 bath house that had a warm and inviting feel. There was a full basement; a two car attached garage plus a separate garage/workshop with electric and water. Along the back of the house was a 1,000 foot long deck that ended at an above the ground pool. The house sat way off the road in a very small sub-division. It was a great house for 5 years, but it was time for a change.
I began searching on line and had several sites I frequented. A house didn’t hit the market without me knowing. The Realtor who originally sold us the house was our first choice to represent us in the sale. He came over and gave us a suggested selling price. It was a very high number much to our surprise. (We did wind up selling for $20,000 less than the original asking price but we were very please nonetheless.) At that time the market was still pretty good in our area of Tennessee. It is a haven for retirees and that group of people turned out to be the majority of our “lookers”. We listed the house the end of March, 2008. We had a brochure box on the Realtor sign. Although I lost count toward the end of the listing period, I know of over 150 brochures that were taken. Sunday afternoons meant a parade of windshield lookers. Some even had the nerve to drive up the long driveway (uninvited might add), turn around and leave. We had people sit by our mailbox for 15 minutes at a stretch. It was interesting for us to watch and try to read their minds.
Less than two weeks into it we got a call that we were to have our first showing. Finally we were taking baby steps toward selling the house. The showing was to be the next day around noon time. It was not through our listing agent, and we were asked to leaving the house and stay out for a few hours. We did as instructed and when we returned we assumed the potential buyers had been there already. Much to our surprise a short time later an out of state SUV pulled up the driveway. The agent introduced himself, while his clients looked off into the distance with their mouths hanging open. The reason for their dazed expressions was the fact that we had a clear view of the Smoky Mountains. The view was breathtaking and we hoped it would be a big selling feature.
The wife (I’ll call her Caroline) sat at our table and just stared at the view. She said she could sit there forever. Her husband (I’ll call him Ted) was also impressed and he toured the home with video camera in hand. Their Realtor basically sat back and watched as my husband and I took over the showing. We gave them a thorough tour inside and out. They wanted property, a view, a pool, an easy to maintain home, a nearby lake and privacy, and we had all of those features. Unfortunately, their home was not even on the market at that point. They own a new home and rental cabins in the UP of Michigan. No offer was made that day.
When they returned to Michigan they listed their home and business and sat back and waited for buyers. We kept in touch almost daily, via e-mails and a phone call or two. They really wanted to buy our home and we really wanted them to buy it because they loved it so much. Other potential buyers soon asked for showings and we had high hopes for a contract.
A little short of four months and 10 showings later we did sell the house. Unfortunately, our Michigan friends did not sell in time and they lost out to a couple from Florida – the only non-retired couple who looked at the house. People have different reasons for buying a home. The buyers had also been looking for a view; it was high on their want list.
The FL people made an offer, we countered, they countered, we countered one more time (only because I love to get the last word in) and they accepted. We were officially under contract. They wanted a three week closing – they had cash in hand as their home was already sold. We had toured a house the day before and started the ball rolling to buy it. We made an offer; the seller agreed to be out in three weeks then changed her mind the next day. That left us in a bad position, potentially homeless. We went into overdrive at that point. Thank goodness I had seen a “fast sale” on a website. I told our agent and he got us an appointment for the next day. We came here on a Sunday and by the time we got to the top of the 1,000 foot long driveway my husband said “Sold, we don’t even have to look inside.” We love the city of Cleveland, the house, and our little piece of tranquility.
Obviously we didn’t just base the decision on the long driveway. We loved the whole package. We have doubled the size of our home, doubled the size of our property and we paid less than what we sold our last home for. Thank goodness we had a little extra money as buying a fast sale usually means you have to spend money on repairs and/or replacements. The previous owner sold the stove, fridge, garbage disposal, outside lighting, bushes and plants and other things that normally would have been part of the house.
This is the last house for us. No more buying a home or selling a home. I am not supposed to watch HGTV’s House Hunters ever again, but I do anyway! Buying a “fast sale” was a lesson in patience and everyone knows I have no patience. Those were the longest three weeks of my life although everything moved at an extremely fast pace. We moved out exactly 20 days after signing the contract, so we met the three week deadline. We packed everything ourselves and worked at it almost 24/7. All of this was done in the August heat and humidity. It was draining but not one of the worst personal stories you will here about I am sure.
Our Michigan lookers are still sad that they were not able to buy our home. We have become long distance friends and hopefully they will have selling success this spring so that they will be able move to Tennessee and talk about their personal stories.
As for my husband and I, our buying a house or selling a house days are over. We can sit back and enjoy this home and listen to our friends tell their real estate stories. We are staying put and loving it!