Should I sell on or off market? #682

#682 in a series of true experiences in real estate

We got a call from a woman who said she wanted to talk to us about selling her house off-market.

Coincidentally, we were talking to another woman who wanted assurance that our marketing for her house would be worldwide. She wanted a big price and had come to believe it would come from someone who maybe lives far away. How would this buyer know about her house?

We went to visit the off-market seller. She showed us her house and explained her plan. She’d been in her pleasant and neat and very fully furnished house for more than a dozen years. She’d commuted to work in the city. Now she was retired and she wanted to move out of state to be near family.

We liked her and we liked the house. No question that the house was saleable. Did she plan to move before selling? No. Paint or thin out furnishings? No place to move anything. Window washing? Many done recently.

How about inspections? Pre-inspections, we stressed, are a very good idea. They inform a buyer about the condition of the house before he decides to make an offer. If, for example, the water heater or furnace are bad, or the foundation is crumbly, the buyer can take this info into consideration. Generally, if the buyer knows about a problem from the first, he is not looking to the seller to fix it or credit him money for it.

She understood and agreed to have inspections done. She explained that the sewer lateral inspection would not be needed because the entire block where she lived had joined a city-sponsored program to replace the sewer laterals the year before.

She told us that she did not intend to move until she had her money from the sale of her house in hand. She would need at least a couple of weeks after closing to move. She was looking at houses in the new location and might be buying one quickly but she hadn’t found it yet.

She did not want her house on multiple listing or included in the usual websites. She said she had for years been looking at neighboring houses on the web when they were for sale and she did not want that to happen for her house, or have people see photos of her things, her life. She also did not want people walking through during an open house.

Would she want us to post a for sale sign? No. Lockbox, one that records who uses it? No. Basically this seller wanted to sell but didn’t want anyone in her house.

OK, we said, we could send an email to a bunch of agents inviting them to know about the house, price, street but not the exact number. If they wrote back that they have a buyer who might be interested, we’d send more. We could then arrange with the seller to get clients inside. Would that work? Yes, the seller said, but not too many. She wanted to herself make appointments with agents and meet them at the door.

Not the best for her to stay there while the house was being shown, we advised. Fine, she’d open the door, take her inside-only cat with her and drive somewhere. She’d come back when the showing agent texted to her that the coast was clear.

Not the easiest showing plan, but we thought it would work. All of this, plus inspection reports once we had them, completed disclosures, and with our client’s permission, inside and out photos, were posted on a web page. No one knew how to get to the page until we told them the address.

The first email was sent to a list we selected of about 200 agents, local and known to us. About 40 responded. All of a sudden we were worried that there would be a scary-to-our-seller deluge. But it all turned out great.

The seller had offered showings over 5 days before looking at any offer. Total showings: 8. Number of offers: 2.

The seller continued to live in her house with all her belongings until she moved to her new house. She did not do any painting or floors or staging. She got a price that worked for her.

The buyers, who had made other offers without success, were able to buy with a low down FHA loan. They got a good house in quite good basic shape.

The other seller who wanted wide exposure got what she wanted: multiple listing, all sorts of internet sites, brochure, inspections, work including sewer done before she moved, sign, lockbox, open houses, and so on. She also received more than 1 offer, she has relocated and is happy all around.

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