There is a need for a plan #690

#690 in a series of true experiences in real estate

If you hired an agent to sell your house today, it is very possible that you would have your money in hand within 45 days.

Not every house everywhere sells so quickly, but for many, many houses in our area, 45 days is plenty to market and close a sale. Quite a few sales go even faster.

Maybe you have, for example, a pretty house in Albany with three bedrooms, a roof that’s tight, a furnace that works fine, and a grassy backyard. Unless there is something very unusual about the house and/or you overprice it, it will sell right away.

“But where would I go? What would I do with my things?” you ask. Ah, there is a need for a plan. This is why offering one’s house for sale doesn’t usually occur in a flash. We’ve never known of anyone who gave away all his possessions, took his money, and went beach combing. All the would-be sellers we’ve known were looking for a plan. They were seeking information and a way of organizing it so they could decide if they wanted to go ahead. Selling doesn’t always make sense; many factors have to be considered.

Sellers want to know where they would go and how they would get there. They are concerned about selling for the highest price. Does it make sense to do termite work, painting and cleaning, install a new kitchen? What about all that stuff they own? How would they deal with it?

A few of the sellers we talked to already knew where they were going: they were moving to South Carolina to take a new job, were divorcing and renting, or were selling a house they had inherited. They were following a time plan that was already in place and clear: moving forward as quickly as possible.

But most of the time when we talk to sellers, we find that they aren’t sure yet what they are going to do. They might choose to do nothing.

A couple of years ago we were invited by an older woman to visit her house. She told us that she can’t handle the stairs anymore, also that the maintenance of her house was getting her down. She’d been thinking of moving to a retirement home while she is in her present good health.

A man called who showed us his dilapidated house. He asked if he can avoid making any repairs but still buy a better house. What would that cost; how long would it take?

A couple who has lived in their large two-story house for 35 years inquired about selling. They love the house and their neighborhood; it would be a wrench to leave. Their children are urging them to buy a condo in Honolulu where one daughter lives. What should they do, think about, and in what order?

None of these people was ready to sell. The older woman felt ambivalent. She wasn’t anxious to give up her house, her autonomy. She hadn’t visited any retirement homes so didn’t know yet what the possibilities were, and it was easier just to go along as she had.

The man was also in need of some research and thinking. He needed to investigate areas where he thought he would like to live, find out housing costs there, figure out his timing. He had to find if he could get a loan to buy a new house before selling his present one, and if he could, then consider whether he would be comfortable owning both houses for a time. He also needed information about his present house: Is it saleable as it is? For how much? What if he made some repairs?

The couple had decisions to make. Do they want to move to Honolulu? How do they feel about living in a condo? Leaving their house, car mechanic, dentist, friends? What amount of money would be available to buy in Hawaii? Will it be enough?

We frequently talk to sellers long before they finally decide whether or not to sell; six months to a year ahead of time isn’t unusual. We give them as much of our experience as possible, focusing on the whole picture while providing the nitty gritty. We talk about why and when they might sell and move, and we estimate their net sale proceeds, with and without repairs. We tell them about closing costs, termite work, disclosures to buyers. And describe how we would go about presenting their particular house.

If they wish, we give them names of workmen we know: cleaners, haulers, roofers, electricians and the like. We help sellers arrange for reports, inspections, repairs, and clearing possessions.

We don’t know anything about the market in Honolulu so we weren’t much help with purchase prices for the couple described above. But we did refer the man to a mortgage broker through whom he learned that he would have to sell before buying.

Because we’d recently had other clients who had moved to an extended care facility, we told the older woman what little we knew about local retirement homes. In each case, we wrote out the information we’d discussed so it could be read over as often as wanted.

It has been about two years since we met these would-be sellers. Only one has sold. We still talk to the couple fairly often. They still don’t feel comfortable about making a decision. The man has done nothing further, and probably won’t.

It took the woman about six months to choose a retirement community and another three for an apartment to become available for her. We helped her hire people to polish up her house before we put it on the market. The house sold immediately, and closed in 35 days. The moving van came the next day. She is content in her new home and tells us that she’s quite sure she did exactly the right thing.

This entry was posted in Seller Information. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: