Happy Friday, Friends! Just a quick update on our current house situation. Remember when I told you we were listing our house as “For Sale By Owner”? (FSBO) Well, things have changed, so not FSBO anymore!
A few weeks ago we decided to list our house as For Sale by Owner on Zillow, just to test the waters. We figured, why not? After all, wouldn’t it be great to save some money on realtor fees? Plus, this time of year there is a low inventory of houses on the market so we thought we would try to beat the spring rush and put our house on the market before everyone else.
So, we listed the house on Zillow as FSBO and meanwhile continued our house selling preparations.
~We had the carpets and the entire house professionally cleaned.
~We did minor repairs we knew would come up in an inspection.
~We purged closets, drawers and cabinets and donated boxes of things to Goodwill.
~We sold several items on our community Facebook page (and still have more to go)
~Our talented and sweet neighbor, who also happens to be a fantastic photographer, took beautiful pictures of our house to put on Zillow. (Thank you, Libby!)
Meanwhile what we discovered is many realtors troll Zillow for “FSBO’s” and call to see if they can list the house for us or “help” us sell the house. And why wouldn’t any realtor want the job? Typically a seller pays a 6% commission rate divided equally between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent-3% each. Doesn’t that seem like a large chunk of money for selling a house? And the seller pays the entire thing! (Jesus only gets 1%, Just saying.)
Conclusion? After 3 weeks of fielding calls from mostly realtors and brokers, we decided to list the house with a realtor after all. We chose a realtor recommended to us by a family friend and our financial advisor and negotiated a 3.75% fee with him. When the house sells, the buyer’s agent will get 2% and our agent will get 1.75%. In my mind, still not a bad deal, right? So, the sign went up last week. It was bittersweet seeing the sign in the yard. Suddenly it became real.
Our realtor held an open house on Sunday and said he got lots of positive feedback. (People thought the house was “priced well and showed beautifully”.) After just a few days on the market we might possibly have an interested party. I’m happy at the prospect of selling, but at the same time isn’t selling your home such a personal thing? Knowing strangers are traipsing through your house and looking in every cabinet and closet without you there? Feels odd. And when you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into a house for 15 years you expect folks to feel the same way about the house as you. This will be our 7th home we’ve sold and have learned a few things along the way. Here’s what I’ve learned and recommend:
1-Give yourself a little wiggle room with your initial asking price. Because everyone wants a bargain and will push the limits. Allow room for negotiating in your favor.
2-Do as few exclusions as possible because when someone thinks they can’t have something, they want it even more. Take down those light fixtures, mirrors or anything else you hold sentimental or dear before the first showing. You’ll save yourself a world of headache and heartache. One wouldn’t think such a silly thing can be a deal breaker, but it can.
3-Negotiate a lower commission fee with your realtor. Especially if you know the market is hot and chances are your house will sell quickly. This can save you thousands of dollars while still netting a nice commission for both agents. And if one realtor won’t accept it, another will.
4-Most appraisals are not equal to the selling price of a home. They can be up to 20% less. Naturally, a home is only worth what someone will pay and market will bear, but keep that in mind when negotiating your contract. Some contracts are contingent upon the selling price being equal to the asking price and it most likely will not be the case. Check for this caveat in your sales contract and proceed with caution.
5-Apparently in Pennsylvania there is no such thing as “earnest money”. Typically (in the South anyway) when a buyer signs a contract with a seller, the buyer puts down earnest money. Usually 5-10 thousand dollars which is non-refundable if the buyers back out for no reason. This seems fair since once the contract is signed the house goes off of the market until the settlement date. But in PA, that is not the case. So, the buyer can walk away and the seller is left to begin again with perhaps precious time lost with no compensation whatsoever. (Just so you know. It was news to us.)
6-Find a good agent that you trust to go to bat for you. After all, they are representing you, the seller, and should have your best price and interests at heart. We chose our realtor instead of one of them choosing us.
So, these are a few discoveries I’ve made in the selling process over the last few decades. If any of this will help someone else in the selling process, I’m happy.
On a side note, as if house selling crap wasn’t enough, we are having our attic at Happy Hill remediated. At some point in time we had bats in the attic and they left behind bat poop, (aka guano) which is harmful to humans. The pest control company has been here three days straight removing the insulation, cleaning, sanitizing and replacing the insulation. And they still are not finished. What a mess! And we are having our septic tank pumped out. Earlier in the week I shared a post about chamber pots. I’m sensing a theme.
Between trying to sell one house, fixing another house and looking for a house, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. If you feel so inclined please send a little prayer my way. I have a feeling the guano is about to hit the fan.